Complete Guide to Drug Tests & Screening

Drug Tests 32 - Complete Guide to Drug Tests & Screening

Are you yearning for more information about drug testing? It can be quite intimidating to dig up all the facts, but fear not! Drug tests are a straightforward and effective way of giving employers insight or monitoring those we care about. Here is your go-to guide containing everything from knowledge on the different types of drug tests, methods used in testing, amount of time drugs remain detectable and much more – allowing you to make informed decisions with ease.

What is drug testing for?

Drug tests are a powerful and effective way to uncover the existence of certain substances in an individual’s body, from illicit drugs to prescription medicines. Employers regularly use drug tests for evaluating potential hires or keeping track of their workers, while healthcare providers often rely on them when monitoring patients who have been prescribed medications or exhibiting unusual behavior. Aside from larger organizations such as law enforcement and academic institutions, drug testing is also used on a personal level to look after family members or other beloved people. Drug tests are additionally utilized by sports entities in order to ensure that their athletes remain healthy and perform at optimum levels.

Methods of drug testing

From urine analysis, to blood measurements, all the way up to sweat and hair follicle tests – drug testing offers a wide range of options. However, healthcare centers most often rely on urinalysis for their screening needs; although in special cases they may opt for a blood test instead. Whereas saliva, sweat and hair are also viable alternatives for such evaluations – though results from these examinations can be less reliable than other approaches available.

Cutoff limits

As per SAMHSA, for any drug test to be categorically considered a “positive,” it must exceed the predetermined cutoff limit. This implies that even if trace amounts of certain drugs are present in your body, you can have a negative result on your urine drug test as long as it falls below the designated ng/mL threshold set by SAMHSA. If a drug is present in the urine at concentrations below what’s established as the threshold for a lab test (i.e., 300 ng/mL for morphine), then it will be reported by the laboratory to be negative, per SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) guidelines.

Detection times

The duration of time that a medication can be traced in the body may vary between individuals, and is reliant on the drug itself, its usage (e.g., inhaled or injected), as well as how often it was consumed and a particular laboratory’s cutoff boundary. This has been confirmed by medical professionals at Mayo Clinic. Depending on the type of drug test being conducted, detection times can vary greatly. Generally speaking, drugs are metabolized and no longer detectable within a few days. Nevertheless, some substances – such as cannabis – can remain in one’s system for weeks after use.

Complete Guide to Drug Tests & Screening


Evaluation of urine samples

Employers and other official agencies consistently turn to urine sample drug tests for the best results. These specific screenings are fast, accurate, and require no additional invasive measures like drawing blood. This makes them some of the most preferred methods available today!

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that any drugs ingested or inhaled are processed in the bloodstream, eventually making their way to be filtered out by the kidneys. When it comes to drug detection within a person’s urine, most substances can remain for several days post-ingestion. It is even possible for some drugs to linger much longer than others before being eliminated from the body entirely. Therefore, one may have trace amounts of a drug present in their urine long after its effects have worn off. Urine sample drug tests are typically divided into two main categories: the 5-panel and 10-panel test. Both will screen for some of the most commonly abused drugs, however opting for a comprehensive 10-panel test increases your chances of detecting any potential threats to safety or well being.

Length of time that drugs of abuse can be detected

Depending on the type of drug, an individual’s metabolism, dose size, and other factors such as half-life of the drug can influence how long drugs are detectable in urine. In general terms, it’s 1 to 3 days – according to Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Some outliers include phentyclidine and benzodiazepines that have been known to be detected up 30 days after heavy use; meanwhile marijuana is also detectable for months after excessive usage.

Specific drugs tested in urine

Urine tests can vary depending on the kind of drug panel used, ranging from a 5-drug to 10-drug test. Subsequently, numerous substances may be screened for in such examinations.


Beer, wine and hard liquor all contain ethanol (alcohol). When a job-related incident takes place, employers may opt to use urine tests as an indicator of alcohol consumption. According to Mayo Clinic Proceedings, due to the quick metabolism rate of alcohol in your body, such levels would only be visible if it had been consumed within the last 12 hours preceding a drug test.


Amphetamines like speed and meth can be identified through a urine drug test. Even certain over-the-counter cold medications, such as decongestants, may generate false positives for amphetamines according to SAMHSA. Generally speaking, these substances will remain detectable in the urine for up to two days after use.


Benzodiazepines are frequently used to treat anxiety issues, yet they also possess a few other therapeutic applications. Unfortunately, these drugs can be abused as illicit street drugs if not taken appropriately. Detecting benzodiazepines is contingent on which form of the drug has been ingested; short-acting medications like Xanax may be identified in urine samples for up to three days while long-acting forms such as Valium could remain detectable for 30 days according to SAMHSA standards.


Are you concerned that marijuana will show up on your drug test? Whether it is detectable or not depends largely on the quantity consumed. According to SAMHSA, single use may only be detected for three days while chronic consumption could remain in urine tests for over a month. But what about CBD oil specifically – would it appear as well? In fact, pure CBD should not register since these exams look out exclusively for THC – the component of cannabis responsible for its intoxication effects. With that said though, owing to its lack of regulation by FDA standards and unwitting contamination with other compounds such as THC, there are no guarantees when it comes to whether or not taking CBD might affect your results.


Derived from the coca plant, cocaine is a stimulant drug that goes by many street names such as blow, bump, coke and crack. As per SAMHSA guidelines, this illicit substance can be detected in urine samples for up to four days after its use.


Opiates are a powerful class of depressant medications with several legitimate clinical applications, but they also have the potential to be abused for their euphoric effects. Depending on the opiate formulation and its dosage strengths, these drugs can stay detectable in your system anywhere from 48 hours up to four days. Even something as seemingly innocuous as eating poppy seeds can lead to inaccurate or false-positive results! It’s essential to familiarize yourself with detection times so that you’re prepared if any tests arise.


Phencyclidine, or PCP as it is more popularly known, is a powerful hallucinogen that can be detected in one’s urine up to eight days after consumption. It should also be noted that common cough medicines containing dextromethorphan may occasionally lead to false-positive results when being tested for the presence of this drug.

Workplace drug testing

Workplace drug testing is now a universal practice. Notably, employers typically test prospective employees in industries where the health and safety of others must be guaranteed (e.g., healthcare or construction). Additionally, many companies require their staff to consistently undertake drug tests as part of sustaining an abstinent lifestyle within the workplace; sometimes randomly amongst members for extra assurance.

Reasons to test

Drug tests can be utilized for a variety of reasons, whether it’s out of curiosity or necessity. Monitoring family members and loved ones, medication agreements, legal matters and even employment are all common motivators for drug testing.

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