Detailed information and solutions for drug testing.
Solutions for drug testing, help and advice when you need it, it’s all here. What are drugs of abuse? Identify drug abuse and understand what a drug test is and how to use it.
What are drugs of abuse?
Drugs of abuse. Abuse of a drug means taking a prescription drug for longer than the doctor prescribed or using prescription drugs illicitly to get a high. Then there are illicit drugs that are taken for recreational purposes. Both can lead to serious addiction and even death. Here are some most commonly abused: Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Ecstasy, Cocaine and Heroin (opiate). Not forgetting prescribed drugs like Ambien, Oxycodone, Percocet and Adderall. By following the information below, you can learn more about drug testing and understand what it’s all about.
What is the function of a drug test?
To detect if one or more illicit or prescription drugs are found when testing a urine or oral fluid sample. Test kits can detect the presence of many drugs including: Amphetamines, Barbiturates, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Opiates, Oxycodone, Marijuana, Methadone, Benzodiazepines, Methamphetamine, Phencyclidine, Tricyclic Antidepressants, Buprenorphine. Prescription drugs, with the exception of synthetic opioid drugs like Oxycodone will contain one of the above listed drugs mixed with another drug.
How often should I use a drug test?
You should test when you think someone might be abusing drugs, either illicit or prescription. We call this reasonable suspicion. The best option if you are concerned about an individual is to randomly test without notice. Supervisors will use them to test new hires, post accident and reasonable suspicion. Make sure you are testing for the right drugs test before ordering.
What type of test is it?
Instant or rapid immunoassays are a qualitative test, it’s a “YES” or “NO” test much like a pregnancy test, meaning it will tell you yes there is a drug present or NO, none were detected. That is where a lab test may come into play. If a drug is detected then the sample should be sent to a laboratory for analysis. They will confirm your initial test and quantify how much was detected. This is called a confirmation test, normally conducted using GC/MS technology (Gas Chromotography/Mass Spectrometry).
What is a panel?
A panel is the part of a drug test that collects and displays the information for a specific drug. There are many panels available and each one will display the result for a particular drug. So when someone says “a five panel drug test” what do they mean? Simply put it means a drug test for five drugs, but it could be a combination of any drugs. The most common being : Cocaine, Amphetamines, Marijuana, Opiates and Phencyclidine. There are many combinations available to suit your needs. The more panels the better that way you stand a better chance of catching the abuser.
What does each panel represent?
The diagram below is an example of a five panel drug test.
- Left to right.
- Panel 1 = Amphetamines (AMP)
- Panel 2 = Cocaine (COC)
- Panel 3 = Methamphetamine (mAMP)
- Panel 4 = Opiates (OPI)
- Panel 5 = Marijuana (THC)
How accurate are drug tests?
Our drug test kits are 99% accurate and very sensitive for detecting the presence of drugs. This means that if drugs are present, a line on the test window for that particular drug will be absent. This is called a preliminary or presumptive positive test result.
Note: If you get a presumptive positive result, it is very important that you send the urine sample to our laboratory, they will test the sample using special equipment and confirm your preliminary result. This is the most reliable way to confirm findings.
Solutions for drug testing.
It’s important that you thoroughly understand the process of testing. Check the validity of the urine sample. Put in measures to ensure the urine is not fake or substitute. Test to see if it been been adulterated or diluted. Is the temperature in range. Be very strict about this and don’t accept excuses. Urine you are about to test will always be within 93 to 98º F, typically 96º F. These things are serious and if you see anomalies, it’s a sure sign of a cheater. Do it right and you will get the right result.
What are test lines?
These are the lines that appear in the window of a drug test. Normally identified with a (T). These lines will appear if the test is negative.
What is a control line?
This is the line that appear in the window of a drug test. It is identified with a (T) This line indicates that the test has been performed correctly. If there is not line, re-test using a new drug test kit. (DO NOT USE THE SAME TEST AGAIN)
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What does a faint test line mean?
It does not matter how faint the lines are on the face of the panel after testing. Some lines may be fainter that others, this does not indicate that more or less of a drug has been detected. If a drug has been detected then there will be no line at all. A drug has to be present in the urine specimen for the result to be considered a presumptive positive or “non-negative”. The degree of what is considered a positive is determined by the cut-off level of the test, this is set by the manufacturer as recommended by SAMHSA. With some drugs, the minimum amount is relatively high, like amphetamines (1000 ng/mL). With other drugs like marijuana the minimum amount is relatively low, (50 ng/mL). Conclusion, no line, assume it’s positive, faint line or dark line, negative.
How faint does it have to be?
The presence of a test line – that’s the (T) line on the face of the test, regardless of how light, indicates a negative result. Some test lines tend to run naturally lighter than others. Our experience when testing at our facility using ProScreen drugs of abuse tests is that if we see no line and send the sample to our lab for confirmation, they result it as a positive. If the line is faint and we send it to our lab then it comes back negative. You are more than welcome to send the specimen to the lab for additional testing if you are not convinced the result is negative.
Does a faint line mean it’s slightly positive?
The presence of a test line, no matter how faint, is an indication of a negative result. Even if there is some drug in the urine, the urine does not have enough of drug needed to cross the cut-off level, so it is still considered negative.
What does a Negative result mean?
This means that if the sample was collected properly and if the test was performed according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then probably none of the drugs screened were present in the sample. However, if you are testing for the wrong drug, then you will never know. If in doubt, use a ten or twelve panel test; you have more chance of detecting an abuser.
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Why is the result negative when I know it should be positive?
There are several factors that can impact the test result knowing the person is abusing drugs:
- Did you test for the right drugs.
- You may have tested too soon. It can take a while for drugs to metabolize in the body and to be detected in urine.
- Drugs are only detectable in the urine for a few days.
- The sample may be too dilute or it’s also possible that the person either adulterated or substituted their urine sample.
- The drug test has passed its expiration date.
If you get a negative test result, but still suspect that the person is abusing drugs, test them again but don’t give notice prior to the test. Use a test kit with more panels to potentially detect a drug of abuse missed with the last test. Make sure the sample provided has not been adulterated or substituted. Checking the temperature prior to testing is a quick way to establish whether the sample has been substituted. Talk to a doctor if you need more help on what steps to take.
Use our simple guide to drug testing an individual.
Does a presumptive positive mean that you found drugs of abuse in the test?
No. Take no action until you get the laboratories confirmed result.
Remember that a positive test for a prescription drug does not mean that a person is abusing the drug. Use the services of our Medical Review Officer. They are trained physicians who understand lab results and will advise accordingly.
What is the detection window for drugs?
The detection window for common drugs of abuse are shown below. These are only a guideline as times can vary significantly from the table below because it depends on how long the person has been taking the drug, the amount of drug they use and the person’s metabolism.
Why are the cut-off levels on an instant drug screen different to a confirmation cut-off?
A drug screen is designed to detect drug metabolites from human urine. After consuming a drug, these drugs are metabolised by the body. Back in the seventies the government established levels which determined whether the result was positive or negative. These are called cut-off levels. Laboratory analysis is designed to detect only one major breakdown product compared to a drug screen, therefore, the minimum amount needed to be present in the urine is generally lower. (see chart below)
|Drug||Identifier||Drug cut-off||Lab cut-off|
|Amphetamines||(AMP)||1000 ng/ml||500 ng/ml|
|Ecstasy||(MDMA)||500 ng/m||250 ng/ml|
|Marijuana||(THC)||50 ng/ml||15 ng/ml|
After marijuana use, urine contains as many as 8 different breakdown products of THC. These combine together to cause a test to read a presumptive positive. At the lab, the confirmation test is designed to detect only one. In this example, marijuana would have a screen cut-off 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 in order for the lab to consider the urine positive. If the substance is present at 14 ng/mL or lower, the sample is considered to be negative.
How long does Marijuana stay in your system?
Occasional users: possibly up to 10 days. There are a lot of variables involved that make it difficult to project exactly how long the drug will remain 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. And consuming no amount of fluids – even diuretic fluids – will permanently “flush” it out of one’s system.
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 could affect the test results. We do not recommend using urine collected in this manner, the results would be totally inconclusive.
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, with the exception marijuana. If your child admitted to using marijuana, and he or she is an occasional user the drug has likely cleared from the body prior to you testing.