Help and Advice, with Solutions for Drug Testing!

  1. What are drugs of abuse?
  2. What is the function of a drug test?
  3. How often should I test for drugs?
  4. What’s the best type of drug test?
  5. Why do tests have panels?
  6. How accurate are drug tests?


Let us put the pieces together and equip you with information for drug testing.

We will help you with solutions to the daunting task of testing individuals for illicit drugs. We discuss drug abuse, what drug tests are, how to use them, and how to interpret the results plus questions about testing.

What are drugs of abuse?

Drugs of abuse are the use of illicit drugs or prescription medication taken for longer than prescribed by the doctor to get high. Prolonged use or unintended use of certain drugs can lead to severe addiction and even death.

What is the function of a drug test?

To establish if an individual is using an illicit drug or abusing a prescription drug. The process for testing can be achieved very simply with a rapid drug test. Rapid drug tests are inexpensive to buy and available to analyze urine or saliva. Either method is the solution for detecting prescription drugs or illicit drugs. And it’s possible to detect many different drugs simultaneously.

The most commonly abused illicit and prescription drugs are Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Ecstasy, Cocaine, and Heroin. Commonly abused prescription medications include Ambien, Oxycodone, Percocet, and Adderall. These can mostly be detected with a rapid drug test kit.

How often should I test for drugs?

  • The frequency of testing an individual depends on the circumstances. If they are a frequent abuser then we recommend initially they are tested at least three times a week. This helps to establish what drugs are being abused and what to test for in the future.
  • Employers will often test new hires to establish they are free of commonly abused drugs.
  • Parents use them when they suspect there is a problem with their teen’s attitude, or they find drugs or parafinalia in the home.
  • There is also what we call reasonable suspicion. This is when you suspect abuse but can’t prove it. Test randomly at least once a week or twice a week for the first month.
  • One final note, never give an individual notice you are going to test them in the next few days.

What’s the best type of drug test?

We recommend urine tests as they are inexpensive to buy, and results are almost instant. There are also Oral Saliva tests which produce similar results to Urine tests. Both are categorized as an immunoassay which produces a qualitative result with a “YES” or “NO” answer much like a pregnancy test. It will tell you yes there is a drug present or no there isn’t but not by how much.

Here is a comprehensive chart for drugs of abuse with detection times for urine and saliva tests.

What are Oral drug tests

An Oral saliva test requires saliva from the mouth instead of urine for detection purposes. Why use an oral test instead of a urine test? Well, oral analysis is difficult to compromise or ‘cheat’, there are no gender issues so that either sex can administer the product and it can be used without the need for a bathroom. And now there are FDA Exempt Oral Drug Screens available that can be officially be used in the workplace.


Why do tests have panels?

A panel determines the size of the test. For example, a 5-panel analyzes five drugs of abuse. The panels are an integral part of a drug test that collects and displays the information. There are many panels available, and each one will show the result of a particular drug. For example, when someone says “a five-panel drug test,” what do they mean? They mean a drug test that detects five drugs, but this could be any combination of any drug. There are many combinations available, the most common being:

  1. Cocaine
  2. Amphetamines
  3. Marijuana
  4. Opiates
  5. Methamphetamine.

Did you know, the more panels there are the more likely you are of catching the abuser; more panels mean more drugs are detected.

What does each panel represent on a drug test?

Each panel is color-coded or marked in some way identifying what substance is analyzed. The packaging will also indicate what substances are tested.

Solutions for drug testing
  • The image above shows pictures of the package and the assay. Panel 1 Red, Amphetamines (AMP). Panel 2 Blue, Barbiturates (BAR). Panel 3 Black, Buprenorphine (BUP). Panel 4 Green, Benzodiazepines (BZO). Panel 5 Light blue, Cocaine (COC). Panel 6 Cyan, Methadone (MET).

How accurate are drug tests?

A urine test is over 90% accurate. An Immunoassay as it is called is very sensitive at detecting drugs of abuse. The ‘cut-off level‘ is what determines if a drug of abuse is detected. Cut-off levels are preset to specific values for each drug, and so if a drug is detected it will be over the cut-off level.

What are the test lines?

These are the lines or bars that appear in the window of a drug test. Identified with a letter (T) and (C). These lines are apparent when the result is negative. See the image below.

○ What is a Negative result?

It means that no drugs were detected. A negative is determined by the cut-off level. This is the threshold, below the cut-off is negative.

○ Does a faint bar mean it’s slightly positive?

Solutions for drug testing

No. If you see a line, it indicates a negative result. The presence of a test line, no matter how faint, is an indication that the test was negative. Some test lines may be weaker than others; this does not indicate that more or less of a drug was detected. See the image below.

○ What are the control lines?

The control line or bar is the area identified by the letter (C); If its visible it indicates the test worked correctly. See the image below.

Solutions for drug testing

Why is the result negative when I know it should be positive?

Several factors can impact whether the result reads positive or negative, particularly when you know the person is abusing drugs:

If the sample was correctly collected and analyzed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then probably none of the drugs screened were present in the sample. However, it could mean you are testing for the wrong drug!

Does a presumed positive mean drugs of abuse were found?

Solutions for drug testing

No. Take no action until you get the result from the lab; If you get a presumed positive result, it is essential that you send the urine sample to a laboratory, they will test it using specialized equipment to confirm the preliminary result.

Remember that a positive result for a prescription drug does not mean the person is abusing drugs. Use the services of our Medical Review Officer. They are trained physicians who understand lab results and will advise accordingly.

Here are some solutions for drug testing successfully.

If you get a negative test result, but still suspect that the person is abusing drugs, test them again without notice. Use a device with more panels to potentially detect another drug of abuse missed with the last test. Make sure the sample provided has not been diluted or substituted. Checking the temperature before testing is a quick way to establish whether the example was sustituted. Talk to your doctor if you need more help on what steps to take.

What is the timeframe for detecting drugs?

The table below shows the detection period for common drugs of abuse. These are only guidelines as times can vary significantly; often due to how often the person used the drug, the amount they used and the person’s metabolic rate.

DrugUrine AnalysisSaliva Analysis
Marijuana1 to 45 daysLess than 24 hours
Amphetamines1-3 days24-36 hours
Barbiturates1-4 days24-36 hours
Benzodiazepines5-7 days24-36 hours
Buprenorphine3-6 days24-36 hours
Cocaine1-3 days24-36 hours
Ecstasy1-3 days24-36 hours
Methamphetamine2-4 days24-36 hours
Methadone1-3 days24-36 hours
Opiates1-3 days24-36 hours
Oxycodone2-4 days24-36 hours
Phencyclidine1-30 days24-36 hours
Propoxyphene1-7 daysN/A
Tricyclic Anti-Depressants5-7 daysN/A

Why are cut-off levels on a drug screen different from lab cut-off levels?

After consuming a drug, the body metabolizes the parent drug into another substance. A drug screen is designed to detect these metabolites. Back in the seventies, the government established levels that determined whether the result was positive or negative. These are called cut-off levels. Laboratory analysis is designed to detect only one primary breakdown product compared to a drug screen; therefore, the minimum amount needed to be present in the urine is generally lower. (see chart below)

DrugIdentifierTest cut-offLab cut-off
AmphetaminesAMP1000 ng/mL500 ng/mL
EcstasyMDMA500 ng/mL250 ng/mL
MarijuanaTHC50 ng/mL15 ng/mL

Lab drug testing.

After ingesting a drug, the body metabolizes the substance into as many as eight different breakdown products. These combine to cause a test to read as a presumed positive result. At the lab, the confirmation test is designed to detect only one. In the example above, Marijuana would have a cut-off screen level of 50 ng/mL, whereas a lab confirmation level is only 15 ng/mL. Only one substance must be present at 15 ng/mL for the lab to consider the sample positive. If the element is present at 14 ng/mL or lower, the sample is deemed to be negative.

How long does Marijuana stay in your system?

With occasional users, Marijuana may stay in their system for up to 10 days. Many variables make it difficult to project precisely how long the drug may be detectable. We have found that Marijuana can stay in your system for over 60 days; this all depends whether they are an occasional user or a chronic user. The metabolite of Marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and tends to stick to fatty areas in the body. Moreover, consuming no amount of fluids – even diuretic fluids – will permanently “flush” it out of one’s system. The best solution is to abstain and take plenty of exercises.

One of my teens admitted to using drugs last week, but the test result was negative. Why?

Most drugs are excreted from the body within a few days, except for Marijuana. If your child admitted to using Marijuana, and he or she is an occasional user, the drug has likely cleared from the body before testing.

More help can be found on the U.S. government web site. Teen help can be found here.

Questions and Solutions for drug testing

○ Why is the process of urine drug testing so important?

It’s crucial that you thoroughly understand the process of testing. Before using a urine drug test, establish the urine temperature is within range; typically 93 to 98º F. Test for adulteration, dilution, and substitution. The urine you are about to test has to be fresh and clear from adulterants. Be very strict about this, and don’t accept excuses as it’s a sure sign of a cheater. If you do it right, you will get the correct result!

For a complete guide on testing an individual, select Drug Testing Instructions.

○ Can I use urine out of the toilet for the test?

NO. Urine in the toilet has been diluted and may have been exposed to cleaning agents that would affect the test results. We do not recommend using urine collected in this manner; the results would be inconclusive.

○ Solutions for drug testing.

Let’s get started; you must grasp the basics of drug testing so you understand what to expect and how a drug test works. The first rule is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and the second rule is to use our guide to get the best from testing.

  • Check the urine temperature and validity of the sample before testing.
  • Test to see if the sample has been adulterated or diluted.
  • Check to see if it’s in range. 93º to 98º F is the acceptable urine temperature range; a typical temperature is 96º F.
  • Don’t accept excuses as to why it’s not in range; if you observe anomalies, it’s a sure sign of a cheater.
  • Follow these fundamental rules to get the best from a drug test with the expected result.

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