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New study: Fingerprints can now determine cocaine use

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fingerprint cocaine testDrug testing for cocaine can be a routine procedure for people around the country. It may be mandated by their place of employment, or a condition of parole. No matter what the reason, the four standard methods for testing an individual for cocaine have always included collecting and testing either urine, saliva, blood, or hair samples.

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is an addictive stimulant that’s made from the coca plant native to South America. It produces a short­term euphoric feeling of energy and talkativeness. Physical effects include a potentially dangerous increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Injecting or smoking cocaine delivers the drug more quickly into the bloodstream, which produces a quicker and stronger but shorter high than snorting. The high from smoking can last 5 to 10 minutes, while the high from snorting can last 15 to 30 minutes. To sustain their high, users take the drug repeatedly and at increased doses. This can easily lead to addiction and in some cases, overdose.

A new way to test for cocaine

According to a new study published in Analyst, there’s a new way to tell whether or not someone has ingested cocaine: their fingerprints. Scientists can already tell from fingerprints if someone’s touched the drug, but with this new method, they can tell if the person has actually used cocaine.

How the study worked

In the small study, researched analyzed fingerprints of a handful of patients in drug rehab facilities by a process known as mass spectromy. In its simplest form, this a technique that helps identify the amount and type of chemicals present in a sample.

When a cocaine user metabolizes the drug, their body excretes portions of it called benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine. What scientists were able to identify in this study, were those two elements left by the people on pieces of glass.

What does this mean for the future?

The fingerprint process provides a potential route of a secure and non­invasive method for drug abuse detection. One of the benefits to this test is the portability for law enforcement and other testing agencies, in addition to is being more hygienic than testing blood, urine or saliva. The sophistication of being able to tell if someone touched the substance versus ingested it will prove helpful and beneficial in many cases.

Getting help

If you or someone you know is addicted to cocaine or any other substances, The Watershed can help. Give us a call today. We’re here 24/7: 1­-800­-861­-1768.

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