Send to

Choose Destination
J Anal Toxicol. 1992 Jan-Feb;16(1):1-9.

Drugs of abuse in saliva: a review.

Author information

BioQuant, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI 48105.


There has been substantial interest in the use of saliva as a diagnostic medium for drugs of abuse because it can be obtained noninvasively. Although drugs of abuse have been investigated in saliva for more than a decade, the role of saliva remains uncertain. A clear picture is difficult to obtain because of variations in (1) the analytical methods used; (2) the dose regimen of subjects, which was either unknown or differed between studies; and (3) the elapsed time between drug intake and sample collection. This communication summarizes the studies on the quantitative determination of different drugs of abuse in saliva to elucidate the current status in this area. Marijuana, cocaine, phencyclidine, opiates, barbiturates, amphetamines, and diazepines (or their metabolites) have all been detected in saliva by various analytical methods, including immunoassay, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, and thin layer chromatography. Initial studies with cocaine and phencyclidine suggest a correlation between saliva and plasma concentrations of these drugs, indicating a dynamic equilibrium between saliva and blood. Tetrahydrocannabinol, the active component in marijuana, on the other hand, does not appear to be transferred from plasma to saliva. However, tetrahydrocannabinol is sequestered in the buccal cavity during smoking and can be detected in saliva. These findings point to the potential role of saliva in the analysis of many illicit drugs. To clearly identify the role of saliva as a diagnostic medium for drugs of abuse, research efforts should be directed towards (1) performing systematic studies on correlations between saliva, blood, and urine and (2) determining the concentrations of drugs and their metabolites in saliva as a function of dose and time after intake.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center