Urinary Drug Screening (UDS)


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.

What UDS Looks for?

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.

How is UDS Performed?

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.

Important Questions

How long does the drug remains in the bloodstream?

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
Daily 49-63 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.

Do medications interfere?

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
Amphetamine Stimulant speed Dexedrine, Benzedrine
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
Marijuana, Can-
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)

What if I’m in a room with someone who is using drugs?

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.

What is 5 Panel Drug Test?

Employers may use a standard five-panel test of “street drugs” that includes:

What is 10 Panel Drug Test?

Some employers may elect a nine- or ten-panel drug test that also includes various prescription drugs, such as:

Do poppy seeds cause a false positive drug test?

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.

What can cause a false positive for cocaine?

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.

What is the cutoff level for the drugs?

Confirmation Cutoff / LOQ Levels by Procedure—Cutoff levels updated periodically.
Alcohol (Ethanol) .02 gm/dL
– Amphetamine
– Methamphetamine
250 ng/mL
250 ng/mL
250 ng/mL
250 ng/mL
250 ng/mL
– Amobarbital
– Butabarbital
– Butalbital
– Pentobarbital
– Phenobarbital
– Secobarbital
200 ng/mL
200 ng/mL
200 ng/mL
200 ng/mL
200 ng/mL
200 ng/mL
– alpha-Hydroxyalprazolam (Alprazolam)
– 7-Aminoclonazepam (Clonazepam)
– 7-Aminoflunitrazepam (Flunitrazepam)
– 2-Hydroxyethyl flurazepam (Flurazepam)
– Lorazepam
– alpha-Hydroxymidazolam (Midazolam)
– Nordiazepam
– Oxazepam
– Temazepam
– alpha-Hydroxytriazolam (Triazolam)
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
0.5 ng/mL
Cocaine 100 ng/mL
– Cotinine
– Nicotine
– Hydroxycotinine
15 ng/mL
Dextromethorphan (DXM) 50 ng/mL
EtG 100 ng/mL
EtS 25 ng/mL
Fentanyl 5 ng/mL
GHB 10 mcg/mL
Gabapentin/Pregabalin 250 ng/mL
Marijuana Metabolite (THC-COOH) 5 ng/mL
Methadone Metabolite (EDDP)
100 ng/mL
Mitragynine 1 ng/mL
– Total Morphine
– 6-MAM
– Hydrocodone
– Hydromorphone
– Oxycodone
– Oxymorphone
– Noroxycodone
– Codeine
100 ng/mL
5 ng/mL
100 ng/mL
100 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
50 ng/mL
100 ng/mL
Phencyclidine (PCP) 5 ng/mL
Propoxyphene 200 ng/mL
Tricyclic Antidepressants
– Amitriptyline
– Desipramine
– Imipramine
– Nortriptyline
– Maprotiline
– Doxepin

25 ng/mL
25 ng/mL
25 ng/mL
25 ng/mL
25 ng/mL
25 ng/mL
Sedative/Hypnotic Agents
– Carisoprodol
– Meprobamate
– Zolpidem
– Carboxyzolpidem


100 ng/mL
100 ng/mL
1 ng/mL
10 ng/mL


How to take the test

You will likely take the urine drug test in a bathroom specifically prepared for drug testing. The test procedure includes the following steps:

  1. You will receive a specimen cup from the person administering the test.
  2. You’ll need to leave your purse, briefcase, or other belongings in another room while you take the test. You’ll also need to empty your pockets.
  3. A same-gendered nurse or technician will accompany you into the bathroom to make sure you follow all testing procedures. They should explain the reason for this type of supervised testing.
  4. Clean your genital area with a moist cloth that the technician provides.
  5. Urinate into the cup. You need to produce at least 45 milliliters for the sample.
  6. When you finish urinating, put a lid on the cup and bring it to the technician.
  7. The temperature of your sample will be measured to ensure that it’s in the expected range.
  8. Both you and the collector must keep visual contact with the urine specimen at all times until it’s been sealed and packaged for testing.
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