Clinical trial of a new technique for drugs of abuse testing: a new possible sampling technique

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2015 Jan;48(1):132-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2014.09.003. Epub 2014 Sep 26.


Exhaled breath has recently been proposed as a matrix for drug testing. This study aims to further explore, develop and validate exhaled breath as a safe and effective non-invasive method for drug testing in a clinical setting. Self-reported drug use was recorded and drug testing was performed by mass spectrometry and immunochemical methods using breath, plasma and urine samples from 45 individuals voluntarily seeking treatment for recreational drug use. Cannabis was the most prevalent drug detected by any method. Urine sampling detected most cases. The exhaled breath technique was less sensitive (73%) than plasma analysis for detection of cannabis uses but captures a more recent drug intake than both plasma and urine. Exhaled breath was the preferred specimen to donate according to interview data of the participants. Testing illicit drugs with the exhaled breath sampling technique is a sufficient, non-invasive and safe alternative and complement to plasma and/or urine sampling.

Keywords: Cannabis; Drug testing; Exhaled breath; Illicit drugs; Self-report.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Exhalation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / analysis*
  • Illicit Drugs / blood
  • Illicit Drugs / urine
  • Male
  • Self Report
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Illicit Drugs