Fingerprint Drug Testing May Help Fight Drug Abuse

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Updated 04/05/2023

A hand touching a finger on a touch screen, capturing a fingerprint

Fingerprints have long been used by law enforcement to identify specific individuals. Thanks to innovations in technology, fingerprint testing can also be used to detect the presence of drugs.

A team of researchers from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom recently developed a test that identifies whether or not a person has misused cocaine over the recent past. Within seconds, an accurate reading is provided.

The test, which makes use of a technique known as “paper spray mass spectrometry,” is also said to be able to detect the presence of other substances. The researchers have already detected heroin in addition to cocaine after using this technology.

The researchers behind the development of the test are citing it as a safe and effective means of drug testing in various platforms and for several purposes.

How Does the Fingerprint Test Work to Detect Drugs?

People who ingest cocaine produce specific chemicals that are present in their perspiration when the drug is broken down in the body. Cocaine metabolites are broken down and can be detected with 99 percent accuracy with the use of a special type of paper to take the fingerprints.

Cocaine molecules have a unique mass, and the spectrometer is able to detect them in a person’s sweat. Once the fingerprint is taken, a solution is then placed on the paper, after which an electrical charge is applied to the paper.

This charge, in turn, releases the molecules from the drug, which are then detected and analyzed by the spectrometer. More specifically, the mass of the molecules is measured and recorded.

The test is so effective that not even handwashing will hinder the ability to detect the presence of these metabolites.

A collection of thumbprints on a surface

Even after a person has washed their hands, innovative fingerprint tests can tell within moments whether the individual has ingested drugs.

How Can This New Fingerprint Test Be Used in Real-World Applications?

There are several people who require drug testing, including police officers, employers, school administrators and counselors. This innovative test could potentially be used in any situation where a drug test would be warranted, providing those who require the test with a quick and accurate result.

In the future, physicians may also be able to use this test to identify whether their patients are taking their prescribed medications as suggested.

Another potential application for this type of testing may include situations where a person has overdosed. The fingerprint test could help emergency personnel and hospital staff determine what drug was taken and take the appropriate treatment steps to save a life.

While tests like this can help identify those who may be struggling with a substance use disorder, more is needed to address this challenge. The good news is that resources are available for anyone with a substance use disorder.

Where Can You Go For Help With a Substance Use Disorder?

If you have come to the realization that you may have a substance use disorder, you have already made a big step. Take your next step by talking confidentially with an addiction professional who can answer your questions and help you on your recovery journey.

Contact The Recovery Village Palmer Lake today to learn about addiction treatment resources available to you.

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