New research, published in the journal Analyst, showed new fingerprint test that can be used to detect cocaine use. This innovation was led by a team of researchers from the University of Surrey, the Netherlands Forensic Institute, King’s College in London, the National Physical Laboratory and Sheffield Hallam University. The team of researchers conducted drug screenings on patients who were attending drug addiction treatment programs. They tested each participant’s fingerprints against the commonly used saliva sample tests to determine if the results coincided. Previous fingerprint tests have used similar tactics, but they only have been able to detect if someone had touched cocaine rather than ingested it.
Lead author Dr. Melanie Bailey from the University of Surrey stated, “When someone has taken cocaine, they excrete traces of benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine as they metabolize the drug, and these chemical indicators are present in fingerprint residue.” This method has been used for numerous forensic applications, but no studies other than this one have used it to detect drug use, said Bailey.
Where this test can help
Drug testing is used regularly by prisons, law enforcement and probation services, but their traditional tests do have some restrictions. For example, urinalysis does involve some privacy concerns and blood test requires that trained staff be present to administer and record the test. Drug screenings of bodily fluid require specific storage and disposals protocols and often need to be examined off-site. This type of testing will allow for easy administration and examination to be performed on-site with little waste to dispose of.
Bailey stated, “The beauty of this method is that, not only is it non-invasive and more hygienic than testing blood or saliva, it can’t be faked … By the very nature of the test, the identity of the subject is captured within the fingerprint ridge detail itself.” A possible future for this type of drug testing is portable fingerprint tests for law enforcement to use. “This will help to protect the public and indeed provide a much safer test for drug users.”
Cocaine addiction is a difficult battle to fight alone. Much like any addiction to drugs or alcohol, cocaine abuse should be counteracted with a proper treatment program to ensure a full recovery and long-lasting sobriety.
Sovereign Health Group is among the leading and more well-renowned drug addiction treatment providers in the country. We offer various inpatient and outpatient treatment options for patients who are struggling with drug addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of addiction treatment, please contact us online or over the phone. Our admissions helpline is open 24/7 and one of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer