What Do Drug Tests Test for?

Drug testing involves checking a sample of your blood, urine, etc. to find if you have been using the drugs or a certain type of drug in question. You usually require a urine sample for the test but other types of biological sample may also be required in certain cases. In so many situations, you will have to undergo a drug test. You may require drug testing before being able to get an employment. Post-accident drug testing and drug testing for athletes are other common circumstances when a drug test helps find the answers. This often leaves people with a question, "What do drug tests really test for?" Let's find out more about it.

What Do Drug Tests Test for?

Different types of drug tests are now available to check the existence of certain drugs. The following tables show the drugs that can be detected in the drug tests.

1. Five-Panel Drug Test

Amphetamines

Meth, speed, crank, ecstasy

THC

Marijuana, cannabinoids, hash

Cocaine

Crack, coke

Opiates

Codeine, opium, heroin, morphine

Phencyclidine

Angel dust, PCP

2. Eight-Panel Drug Test

Eight-panel drug test includes five-panel drug test plus:

Barbiturates

Downers, secobarbital, butalbital, phenobarbital,

Methaqualone

Quaaludes

Benzodiazepines

Librium, Valium, Xanax

3. Ten-Panel Drug Test

Ten-panel drug test includes eight-panel drug test plus:

Methadone

To treat heroin addiction

Propoxyphene

Darvon compounds

4. Additional Tests

MDMA

Ecstasy

Hydrocodone

Vicodin, Lortab, Oxycodone

Anabolic steroids

Muscle-building hormones

Inhalants

Glue, paint, hairspray

Hallucinogens

Mushrooms, LSD, peyote, mescaline

How Long Can Drugs Be Tested in the Body?

Now you have got the answer to "what do drug tests test for" and got to know that different types of tests are available to identify drugs someone has used. However, these tests all have time limitations. Here is more about detection time of certain drugs in urine.

Drugs

Detection Time in Urine

Amphetamine

2 days

Barbiturates

Long-acting: 1-3 weeks; short-acting: 2 days

Cocaine

4 days

Codeine

2 days

Ethyl alcohol

Between 2 and 12 hours

Heroin

2 days

Marijuana

Prolonged use: 1-2 months; single use: 2-7 days

Methadone

3 days

Methamphetamine

Up to 2 days

Methaqualone

Up to 14 weeks

MDMA

Up to 2 days

Morphine

2 days

Phencyclidine

Up to a month in chronic users

Propoxyphene

6 hours to 2 days

Benzodiazepines

Chronic use: 4-6 weeks or longer; therapeutic dose: 3 days

What Are the Possible Results of Drug Tests?

What do drug tests test for? It is a common question, but many people also want to know about the possible results of different tests. To learn more about it, you first need to know about the two types of urine drug screens.  

  • Immunoassay: It is quite cost effective but may fail to pick up on all narcotics. It may also give a false positive.
  • Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS): If the result of immunoassay is positive and you deny drug use, you will need the GC/MS test. The test is more expensive as compared to the immunoassay. Test results will take longer to arrive but are usually more accurate.

Your test results will be expressed in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). There is a cutoff point for reference. If your result is above the cutoff number, you will have a positive result. Your test result usually only shows if it is positive or negative instead of mentioning numeric values. Click here if you fail a drug test.

Initial Test Analyte

Initial Test Cutoff Concentration (ng/mL)

Confirmatory Test Analyte

Confirmatory Test Cutoff Concentration (ng/mL)

Marijuana metabolites

50

THCA

15

Cocaine metabolites

150

Benzoylecgonine

100

Opiate metabolites

Codeine/Morphine

2000

Morphine/codeine

2000

6-Acetylmorphine

10

6-Acetylmorphine

10

Phencyclidine

25

Phencyclidine

25

Amphetamines

AMP/MAMP

500

Amphetamines, Methamphetamine

250

MDMA

500

MDA, MDMA, MDEA

250

How Long Does It Take to Get the Results?

Apart from "what do drug tests test for", you may want to know how long it takes to get the results. You usually do not have to wait much to get results from workplace drug testing. Employers can also ask to expedite things a bit and get results on the same day of testing. You usually get negative results within a day, but it takes more time to receive results if you have a positive screen. It can take up to a week in some cases. A medical review officer (MRO) will contact you for further questioning if your test result is positive. You will be asked some questions to determine if your test result is due to some medications that you may have been taking. The OTC, prescription, and herbal medications may affect your drug test results.

 
 
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