Drug testing is the evaluation of a urine, blood or other type of biological sample to determine if the subject has been using the drug or drugs in question. There are many circumstances that may lead to drug testing:
Drug testing is often done when applying for employment, especially for positions that may involve federal transportation, airline industries, railways, hospitals, and other workplaces where public safety is of the utmost importance. However, workplace drug testing is now common in general for many U.S. employers to lessen the impact from drug abuse, safety concerns, and low productivity in the workplace.
The urine drug test usually screens for:
Alcohol can also be included in screening tests, but it’s usually detected through breath tests rather than urine screens.
There are two types of UDS: a screening test and a confirmatory test. The screening test uses an immunoassay to look for the parent drug and/or metabolite. The confirmatory urine drug test is done by gas Chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) or high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC); this test is highly specific and is typically used when testing for the presence of a specific drug is needed.
Urine testing detection periods will vary greatly for drug to drug. Table below will cover the common drugs and detection time.
|Approximate* Substance Detection Time:|
|Substance||Detection Period||Substance||Detection Period|
|Amphetamines||2-5 days||Barbituates (Short-Acting)||2 days|
|Barbituates (Long-Acting)||3-4 weeks||Benzodiazepines||7-10 days|
|Cannabinoids (THC, Marijuana)||5-60 days (See Chart Below)||Clenbuterol||4-6 days|
|Cocaine||1-4 days||Codeine||5-7 days|
|Euphorics (Ecstasy, Shrooms)||5-7 days||Ketamine (Special K)||5-7 days|
|LSD – ACID||7-10 days||Methamphetamines||5-7 days|
|Steroids (anabolic oral)||14-28 days||Opiates||5-7 days|
|Steroids (anabolic parenterally)||1-3 months||Phencyclidine (PCP)||2-4 days|
|Phenobarbital||10-20 days||Propoxyphene||6 hours to 2 days|
|Cannabinoids (THC, Marijuana) Approximate* Detection Time:|
|1 time only||5-8 days|
|2-4x per month||11-18 days|
|2-4x per week||23-35 days|
|5-6x per week||33-48 days|
*Some variances in detection range can occur depending on certain characteristics of the individual being testing. These detection ranges are provided as a general guideline, but should not be considered as a concrete time frame.
There are some prescriptions that contain the same drugs that are commonly found “on the street”. There is no easy way to distinguish between the two forms of the drug. However, the problem is not as big as it would seem.
There are no prescriptions for PCP or cocaine. It is extremely rare to find cocaine used in a medical setting, although it happens occasionally, usually to control bleeding from the eye or nose. If used, it will be well documented in the person’s medical file. Such use would cause the urine to test positive for cocaine metabolite for a few days.
Heroin is rarely prescribed in the States, but again would be well documented. Other prescribed opiates may occasionally cause a positive screen, but are sorted out in a confirmation test.
There are some prescription diet pills that contain either amphetamine or methamphetamine, as well as a drug for Parkinson’s Disease that is a form of methamphetamine. Some doctors prescribe amphetamines for ADHD. Ecstasy is included in the amphetamine class of drugs, and is identified at confirmation.
The below table further explains some of the commonly prescribed medicines along with it’s street name and class.
|Drug||Class||Street Name||Prescription Brand Name Examples|
|Barbiturates||depressants / sedatives / hypnotics||downers, barbs, reds||Amytal, Fiorinal, Nembutal, Donna|
|Benzodiazepines||depressants / sedatives / hypnotics||bennies||Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Serax|
|Cocaine (benzoyl ecgonine metabolite)||Stimulant||coke, crack, rock cocaine||N/A|
|Codeine||Analgesic / Opiate||N/A||N/A|
|Ethyl alcohol, ethanol||depressants / sedatives / hypnotics||alcohol, liquor, beer, wine booze||N/A|
|Heroin||Analgesic / Opiate||smack, tar, chasing the tiger||N/A|
|Hallucinogen||pot, dope, weed, hash, ganja,hemp, MJ, mary jane||Marinol, Cesamet|
|Methadone||Analgesic / Opiate||fizzies||Dolophine|
|Methamphetamine||Stimulant||speed, ice, crystal, crank||Desoxyn, Methedrine|
|Methaqualone||depressants / sedatives / hypnotics||ludes, disco bisquits, 714, lemmons||Quaalude (off U.S. market)|
|Stimulant||ecstacy, XTC, ADAM, lover’s speed||N/A|
|Morphine||Analgesic / Opiate||N/A||Duramorph, Roxanol|
|Phencyclidine||Hallucinogen||PCP, angel dust||N/A|
|Propoxyphene||Analgesic / Opiate||N/A||Darvocet, Darvon (all forms of propoxyphene withdrawn from US market in November 2010)|
Since it takes multiple uses to test positive, and metabolites are checked when possible, it is pretty much impossible to test positive from passive exposure on a limited basis.
Employers may use a standard five-panel test of “street drugs” that includes:
Some employers may elect a nine- or ten-panel drug test that also includes various prescription drugs, such as:
Poppy seeds and dextromethorphan have been reported to lead to a false positive result for opiates. Decongestants (ephedrine) have been implicated in causing false positives for amphetamines. The body metabolizes codeine to morphine and both substances may be found upon testing.
If benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite of cocaine is detected, the person cannot claim that the result is a false positive due to Novocaine or any other “-caine” type of drug. Benzoylecgonine is only found in nature as a metabolite of cocaine, and there would be no other valid reason for it to be present in a drug screen. As previously mentioned, confirmatory testing with GC-MS will identify individual drugs or metabolites in a sample, and almost eliminate the chance for a false positive result.
|Confirmation Cutoff / LOQ Levels by Procedure—Cutoff levels updated periodically.|
|Alcohol (Ethanol)||.02 gm/dL
– alpha-Hydroxyalprazolam (Alprazolam)
– 7-Aminoclonazepam (Clonazepam)
– 7-Aminoflunitrazepam (Flunitrazepam)
– 2-Hydroxyethyl flurazepam (Flurazepam)
– alpha-Hydroxymidazolam (Midazolam)
– alpha-Hydroxytriazolam (Triazolam)
|Dextromethorphan (DXM)||50 ng/mL|
|Marijuana Metabolite (THC-COOH)||5 ng/mL|
Methadone Metabolite (EDDP)
– Total Morphine
|Phencyclidine (PCP)||5 ng/mL|
You will likely take the urine drug test in a bathroom specifically prepared for drug testing. The test procedure includes the following steps: