Drug Testing FAQ

drug testing

Drug testing is one action an employer can take to determine if employees or job applicants are using drugs. It can identify evidence of recent use of alcohol, prescription drugs and illicit drugs.

There are a variety of employment-related drug tests used by employers. The types of drug tests which show the presence of drugs include:

  • urine drug tests
  • blood drug tests
  • hair drug tests
  • saliva drug screens
  • breath alcohol testing

Blood Drug Testing

A variety of drugs can be tested for in blood:

  1. amphetamines
  2. cocaine
  3. marijuana
  4. methamphetamines
  5. opiates
  6. nicotine
  7. alcohol

Blood tests take longer to develop than urine tests, but this method is very effective at detecting concentrations of alcohol and other drugs. Blood testing can determine your level of intoxication, but only for up to 24 hours after you’ve been drinking.

Urine Drug Tests

A urine drug test is the most commonly used test when job applicants or employees are screened for illegal drugs or alcohol use. Urinalysis shows the presence of drug residues that remain in the body after the effects of the drug have worn off.

By far the most common test for drug use is the 5 panel urine test. It checks for the presence of cocaine, opiates, amphetamines/meth, marijuana, and PCP. Less common is the 10 panel, which tests for the same drugs as the 5 panel, with the addition of benzodiazepines, quaaludes, methadone, propoxyphene, and barbiturates.

Saliva Drug Screen

The saliva holds traces of alcohol, hormones and other chemicals that can indicate drug use. Saliva testing is no longer as popular as blood or urine testing. Drugs can usually be detected in the saliva for only a few hours to a few days.

Hair Drug Testing

A hair drug test provides a 90-day window of drug use. It doesn’t indicate current impairment due to drugs, only past use. A hair drug test does not detect alcohol use. Hair can be tested for cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine. Hair analysis requires more processing time than urine or blood testing.

Breath Alcohol Testing

Breath alcohol testing, similar to that performed by law enforcement, is the most commonly requested method of detecting alcohol in workers. A specially trained technician using government-approved equipment is able to quantify the percentage of alcohol currently in the body. It does not test for prior intoxication. Should an employee test positive for alcohol consumption with a breath test, the levels are often verified with a lab blood test.

Drug detection times

  • Alcohol: 3-5 days in urine, 10-12 hours in blood
  • Amphetamines: 1-3 days in urine and around 12 hours in blood
  • Barbiturates: 2-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in blood
  • Benzodiazepines: 3-6 weeks in urine and 2-3 days in blood.
  • Cannabis: 7-30 days in urine and up to 2 weeks in blood
  • Cocaine: 3-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in blood
  • Codeine: 1 day in urine and up to 12 hours in blood
  • Heroin: 3-4 days in urine and up to 12 hours in blood
  • LSD: 1-3 days in urine and up to 2-3 hours in blood
  • MDMA (ecstasy): 3-4 days in urine and 1-2 days in blood
  • Methamphetamine (crystal meth): 3-6 days in urine and 24 – 72 hours in blood
  • Methadone: 3-4 days in urine and 24-36 hours in blood
  • Morphine: 2-3 days in urine and 6-8 hours in blood

Where do I find the special requirement and laws for each state concerning drug screening?

Your state bar association can lead you to many publications and sources that will answer this need. You might also want to contact the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace, which offers many publications dealing with state and federal drug testing laws, as well as many other drug testing topics. Their website address is http://www.drugfreeworkplace.org/.

Urgent Care Network Omaha

All three Urgent Care Network of Omaha clinics can perform urine drug screen testing for drugs of abuse. We offer options, whether you want electronic or strictly lab-based testing.

We are part of the eScreen electronic testing network. This system utilizes a quick-read initial screening, with lab confirmation, if needed. The eCup tests for the five most-common drugs: 

  • cocaine
  • opiates
  • amphetamines/meth
  • marijuana
  • PCP

We collect a urine specimen and place it in a machine that uses a chemically-reactive reader. The initial results will either be “negative” (which is good- nothing showed up in the screening), or it will be “non-negative” (which means something showed up that needs further testing in a laboratory environment- it could be a “drug of abuse” like marijuana, or it could be a prescription drug that needs to be verified.) Negative results are available within 15 minutes; non-negative results need to be sent to the lab for further testing, which will take between 1-4 days.

Our clinics can also do strictly lab-based testing, for either five-panel or 10-panel testing. The 10-panel test includes the five drugs mentioned already, plus

  • benzodiazepines
  • quaaludes
  • methadone
  • propoxyphene
  • barbiturates

The urine specimen is collected and shipped to Alere Laboratory for gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis. Results are available in 1-4 days.

Disclaimer
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