The Most Common Questions We Get About Drug Testing

A drug test such as 5 panel urine drug test is a technical examination of biological samples, such as blood, urine, breath, hair, perspiration, or saliva, to check the presence or absence of certain parent substances or their metabolites.

As claimed by FMA Health, some of the substances tested include:

  • Amphetamines, including methamphetamine
  • Barbiturates, such as phenobarbital and secobarbital
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids, such as morphine, codeine, heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Steroids

If you need to check more substances, a 12-panel urine drug test or 9-panel urine drug test can be used. Here are some of the popular questions people would ask about drug testing.

What is a drug test used for?

A drug test is carried out to determine whether a person has taken an illegal substance or not. A person can be tested for one or more substances. A pre-employment drug screening may be necessary as an employment requirement, participation in organized sports, or as part of a police investigation or court proceeding. The test can be used for:

  • Employment: A drug test is conducted on you before and/or after employment to determine whether the person abuse drugs.
  • Sports organizations: College athletes and professionals need to take a drug test to check if they have used performance-enhancing drugs or other illegal substances.
  • Legal or Forensic Purposes: Drug test has been part of any criminal or vehicle accident investigation. It is conducted as ordered by a judge or part of an ongoing court case in some cases.
  • Monitoring Opioid Use: If you are using opioids for chronic pain or other medical condition, your doctor may request a drug test to ensure you are taking the correct dosage of the drug.

hair follicle test

If you exhibit signs of drug abuse, your doctor may request a drug test. Among these signs are:

  • Agitation
  • Blood pressure or cardiac rhythm changes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Delirium
  • Nausea
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Pupils that are dilated or small
  • Speech that is slurred or slowed

What types of laboratory tests are used for drug testing?

The five popular types of drug tests are as follows:

  • A blood test is effective at detecting alcohol concentration levels.
  • A breath test is used to screen for driver’s alcohol consumption using a Breathalyzer. Thus, the result is instant.
  • Hair tests make use of hair follicles taken at the scalp to test substances like marijuana, cocaine, or other drugs taken at least three months. The drug residues remain in the hair longer.
  • A saliva test is only helpful if the drug was taken a few hours or days ago.

The urine test is the most popular method used in detecting illegal substances. The urine can contain a concentration of parent drugs and their by-products. The urine drug test results time frame should not exceed two weeks.

What are the costs of drug testing?

The costs of drug testing may depend on the following factors:

  • The type of drug tests ordered
  • The frequency of the test
  • The number of individuals to be tested

The costs may vary from $30 to $60 per person.

What do I need to bring along with me when I have a drug test?

You must carry photo identification with you, such as a valid driver’s license, passport, or Site Safe ID.

Can the lab tell if someone else’s urine is used?

Yes, there are several methods a lab can use to identify whether you use someone else’s urine or if you try to evade a drug test.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

Drug test requires some preparation. You need to prepare yourself and the documents necessary. If you are using any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, or supplements, make sure to alert the testing provider or your health care provider because they may cause you to test positive for some illegal drugs. You should also avoid meals containing poppy seeds, which can result in a positive opioid test result.

How long can different drugs be detected in your system after their use?

The exact amount of time a substance remains in the body varies according to factors such as age, sex, dose, weight, and physical health. But, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the length of time the drug will show up in a urine test are as follows:

  • Heroin: 1-3 days
  • Marijuana/THC: 1-7 days
  • Cocaine: 2-3 days
  • Meth: 2-3 days
  • MDMA: 2-4 days

There is no way to forecast how long the drug stays or how long one smoke session stays in your system before it is cleared from your body. Therefore, the best way to pass a drug test is to avoid using them.

It can take several weeks, and often months, for a heavy or frequent user to have sufficiently low amounts of cannabis in their body to pass a drug test.

Does drinking a lot of water help pass a urine drug test?

Here, at FMAHealth, we think that it is not a good idea to drink a lot of water before a drug test. Although it technically dilutes any medications in your system, this approach mostly impacts the amount of creatinine in urine. The lab will refer to a positive dilute or negative dilute drug test depending on the test’s findings.

A re-screen may be necessary based on the authorities in charge of your drug testing. For example, if you are subjected to court-ordered or probationary drug testing, a dilute drug test is extremely suspect and may necessitate a second test.

Can heavy exercise help me pass a test?

While a rigorous exercise a month before your test may somewhat modify your results, a brief trip to the gym in the morning will not improve your chances of passing a surprise drug test.

Can Employers Drug Test in States Where Marijuana Is Legal?

Yes. Where marijuana is currently allowed for recreational or medical use, the legal laws vary by state. Furthermore, marijuana remains in the system for an extended time. So an employee may consume marijuana legally but be drug tested later and lose their job. Marijuana use is illegal under federal law, and many employers choose to keep their drug-free workplace policies in place.

However, laws are changing, and some states, including Maine, Arizona, and Minnesota, have implemented employee safeguards. Because each state has its own set of rules, it’s usually better to contact legal counsel before starting a job to explore relevant marijuana testing laws.

How can a student-athlete find out whether a medication or nutritional/dietary supplement is banned?

Some supplements may include prohibited substances, which may disqualify student-athletes from the competition. In addition, supplements may potentially include harmful or illegal ingredients. When selecting vitamins, avoid the following:

  • Claim to be anabolic steroid alternatives, cause quick weight loss, or treat or cure sickness or a health condition.
  • High doses of green tea extract, caffeine, and other stimulants may cause anxiety, restlessness, a racing pulse, or an irregular heartbeat, particularly in teenagers. Mixing supplements or taking them more than the recommended doses might also be harmful to one’s health.
  • Adulterants or synthetic stimulants that the FDA has not approved, such as DMAA, N,a-DEPEA, oxilofrine, or DMBA, may be present. In addition, ingredient names such as 4-amino-2-methyl pentane citrate or geranium extract may be found on product labels.

What happens during a drug test?

The usual drug test requires you to submit a urine sample in a lab. In addition, you will need to collect a clean catch sample. At this time, you can pour some synthetic urine into the cup. We will also provide instructions on how to do it.

A urine sample is usually essential for a drug test in a lab. You will be given specific instructions on how to submit a “clean-catch” urine sample. In some cases, a medical technician or another staff member may remain present while you collect your sample.

How long does it take to have a drug test?

It usually takes between 10-15 minutes, depending on how long it takes to answer any questions, complete the paperwork, for the person to pass urine, and whether the sample needs to be submitted to the laboratory for further testing. Thus, the drug screening test can last up to 5 minutes.

How long does it take to get drug test results?

Labcorp pre-employment drug test results are usually out within 24 hours from receipt of the samples. Confirmatory results are out within two working days. The results are either sent to the employer directly or emailed to the person tested.

How accurate are the results of my drug test?

Your drug test findings are quite accurate. If a screening drug test fails, the sample will be sent to a recognized laboratory for confirmation testing. Accredited laboratories employ rigorous testing methods. The laboratory results are the final, validated results.

What does a pre-employment drug test look for?

Marijuana is a common drug tested for in a pre-employment urine drug test. Other substances tested include amphetamines, cocaine, PCP, methamphetamines, and opiates, with employers having the option to test for various other substances.

Can drug and alcohol tests measure impairment?

An employee’s capacity to fulfill vital activities or requirements should be determined by drug and alcohol testing. Alcohol testing by the breathalyzer is viewed as minimally intrusive (compared to blood tests) and highly accurate. Therefore, the Code allows the use of breathalyzers in limited instances.

Drug testing is more difficult to measure impairment. Despite many technological developments, scientific research has not established the existence of a drug testing method comparable to the alcohol breathalyzer in terms of:

  • Detection of current impairment
  • High precision
  • Minimal intrusion
  • Quick reaction
  • Urinalysis can detect past use but not how much or if the person is still affected

What happens if student-athletes test positive?

The school may request a medical exception if the student-athlete tests positive for a substance used for medical purposes. However, suppose the student-athlete is tested positive for drugs that can be used for cheating or recreation. In that case, a positive drug test can result in the loss of eligibility and suspension from playing.

What happens if I ‘fail’ a drug test?

If the test is done before hiring you, failing to pass the drug test can lead to non-hiring. If the company conducts a random test to check on their employees, your employer can sanction a disciplinary action. Even worst, they can terminate you. If the company has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, they will see it as gross misconduct and can suspend you and subject you to further investigation.

How far back will a mouth swab drug test go?

To collect biological material, a cotton swab is rubbed inside the cheek.

If I believe the results are wrong, is there anything I can do?

Yes, you can request a retest. You need to disclose all the medications you are taking before taking the test. If you fail to do so, you can inform them and ask for a retest.

Can a workplace drug test be a false positive or false negative?

The likelihood of a false positive drug test is a concern for anyone undergoing an illicit drug screen (urine, hair, saliva, or blood). According to some estimates, 5 to 10% of all drug tests are false positives, whereas 10 to 15% are false negatives.

Who has access to my results?

The test results will be emailed to the specified person(s) as a secure PDF document. Only the person tested and the laboratory has access to the results.

How to pass a urine drug test for weed?

A detox drink can help you pass a urine drug test for weed. However, some detox drinks cannot provide the results you want. The best thing to do is to abstain from using the product.


  • Carolyn Gaughan

    Carolyn Gaughan is an ex-executive vice president of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians and represents the state associations of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians.