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Medically Reviewed

How to Pass a Mouth Swab Drug Test

- 5 sections

Medically Reviewed: April 12, 2023

Medical Reviewer

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 10.9 million people who reported misusing drugs in 2020 stated that their substance abuse had increased in frequency.[1]

Keeping this in mind, millions of people abuse drugs every year. Whether you are addicted to a substance or occasionally use drugs, you may have been concerned about passing a drug test before. Many people in America share the same fear, especially when the new job they are interested in tells them they will have to pass a drug test.

Whether you were just offered a new job or have to submit to yearly testing, knowing how to pass a drug test is vital. Unfortunately, drug tests are extremely accurate, providing employers with an easy way to determine whether their employees are under the influence.

Oftentimes, jobs use mouth swab drug tests instead of urine, hair, or blood tests. If you are concerned about passing a saliva drug test, you must become familiar with what they are and how they work.

What is a Mouth Swab Drug Test?

Mouth swab drug tests use your saliva to determine if certain substances are in your system. While blood, hair, or urine tests require complicated equipment or invasive needles, saliva tests are completed with a quick swab. These tests are ideal for employers who are conducting routine drug tests.

Because of the simplicity of saliva tests, the results can be received within minutes of swabbing an individual’s mouth. However, it is important to note that saliva tests do not test for all drugs. Saliva tests are most commonly used to detect marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamine, and even alcohol.

How Long Can Saliva Drug Tests Detect Different Drugs?

The amount of time drugs stay in your system varies depending on a variety of factors. For example, some of these factors include the type of drug, how often you abused it, and the speed of your metabolism.

However, most substances are only detectable in your saliva between 12 to 72 hours after you last abused it. In general, saliva drug tests can detect the following substances:[2]

  • Alcohol – up to 24 hours
  • Opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine – 4 days
  • Heroin – 5 to 24 hours
  • Fentanyl – 3 to 7 hours
  • Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan – 3 days or more
  • Ecstasy (MDMA) – 24 to 48 hours
  • Methamphetamine – 24 to 48 hours
  • Prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin – 1 to 2 days
  • Cocaine and crack cocaine – 1 to 2 days
  • Marijuana (THC) – 1 to 3 days
  • PCP – up to 3 days

Frequent and heavy users of marijuana may test positive for the substance for up to 4 weeks because the consistent marijuana use causes THC metabolites to build up in your saliva over time.

Drugs like psilocybin mushrooms (shrooms) and LSC (acid) are usually not tested for in saliva tests.

How Do People Attempt to Trick a Saliva Drug Test?

If you have been worried about passing a saliva drug test, you may have been looking on online forums. Maybe you have found some at-home tricks that people claim are effective for beating a mouth swab drug test. Unfortunately, none of these are very reliable.

People might attempt to pass a saliva drug test using the following techniques:

  • Using a saliva-neutralizing mouthwash or detoxification product such as “Toxic Rid,” a detox mouthwash, or “Oral Clear,” a detoxifying chewing gum
  • Snacking on sour or citrusy candy to increase the acidity of their saliva
  • Not taking cough medicines that have codeine
  • Gargling water regularly in an attempt to dilute saliva to the point where drugs and alcohol can’t be detected
  • Using hydrogen peroxide in an attempt to rinse or sterilize the mouth
  • Brushing their teeth and gums vigorously right before the test to try to remove traces of illicit substances
  • Chewing gum to alter the makeup of their saliva, making it more sugary and altering the pH
  • Eating meals that are high in fats to flush substances out of their system
  • Ringing their mouth with vinegar to make saliva more acidic
  • Swishing a cap of bleach in their mouth

While some of these techniques are harmless, swishing bleach in your mouth can be dangerous. It is important to refrain from resorting to extreme measures even when you are worried about failing a drug test.

What is the Best Way to Pass a Mouth Swab Drug Test?

While techniques like rinsing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide or bleach may sound effective, there is always a chance that it will not work. The only surefire way to pass a saliva drug test is to abstain from drugs for at least a week before your test. This ensures that no matter what drug you are using, your system will have enough time to eliminate it from your saliva.

However, you must remember that saliva drug tests have a shorter window of detection than other substances. If someone is testing you because they suspect drug abuse, they might decide to use a urine or blood test when you pass the saliva one, so you will need to have abstained from substance abuse for much longer to ensure a passing result.

If you are subjected to a hair drug test, these tests can detect any substance in your system for the past 3 months. However, staying sober for any amount of time, even when a drug test is coming up, can be difficult for people struggling with addiction. If you find that you can’t stay sober even with an upcoming drug test, attending an addiction treatment program can help you get back on track.

Find Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction

If you are constantly worrying about passing drug tests, you could be suffering from an addiction. Drug addiction is incredibly difficult to overcome on your own, especially if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. As a result, you should always seek help from a drug and alcohol detox program.

At Charlotte Detox Center, we can provide you with the medications and treatments you need to overcome withdrawal symptoms safely and comfortably before you transition to the recovery program of your choosing. Contact us today to get started.