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Urine drug testing detects evidence of recent drug use or misuse in a sample of urine. Testing can detect illegal or prohibited drug use, prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, and legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco. Although drug testing can be performed on several types of samples, including samples of blood, saliva, and hair, urine is the most commonly used sample for drug testing.
Urine drug tests can be used in a wide variety of situations in which testing for drug use or misuse is required. Urine drug testing can detect evidence of recent drug use or misuse. Drug use refers to using an illegal drug, like heroin or cocaine, while drug misuse refers to the use of medication in a manner that is unhealthy or differs from what is prescribed by a doctor.
The most common role of urine drug testing is to screen for drug use or misuse in the workplace. A urine drug test may be requested by an employer when screening job applicants, for periodic or random drug testing of employees, and when drug use is suspected based on symptoms or workplace accidents. For patients taking prescription drugs that have the potential for misuse, a doctor may order a urine drug test to confirm that the patient is taking medication as prescribed.
Some of the most commonly misused prescription drugs include opioids, central nervous system depressants used to treat anxiety and sleep issues, and stimulants used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD.
Urine drug tests may detect the drug itself in the urine, a drug metabolite, or other biomarkers that suggest drug use or misuse. A drug biomarker is any measurable substance that is present after taking a drug. A metabolite is a type of biomarker that remains in the body as a drug is processed and broken down. Urine drug tests detect evidence of recent or past drug use or misuse but typically cannot diagnose current intoxication or addiction.
Drugs can be detected in the urine for a period of days, weeks, or months after use, depending on a variety of factors. These factors include the amount and frequency of drug use, as well as the rate at which the drug is metabolized and eliminated from the body. Drugs that can be detected by a urine drug test include:.
Time it takes drugs to leave the body
While a urine drug test may only look for evidence of the use or misuse of one drug, tests are often combined into broad screening panels that test for several drugs at once, like a panel drug test. Positive on an initial drug screening panel are considered presumptive positive should be confirmed by an additional, more specific, confirmatory test. Urine drug testing may be used in the workplace, the military, and in organized sports. Legal and ethical issues commonly arise when considering urine drug tests.
Federal, state, and local laws impact the use of drug testing. Due to the potential implications of drug testprofessional organizations recommend that patients should be given the opportunity to consent to drug testing when possible. Federal employees may be required to have periodic or random drug testing as part of a drug-free workplace program.
Drug-free workplace programs are mandated in several federal industries that involve public safety and national security, such as those in the Department of Transportation and Department of Defense. Urine drug tests are performed in a wide variety of settings. Testing can be conducted at hospitals, laboratories, substance use treatment programs, and other medical or legal settings.
Samples for urine drug testing can also be obtained at a workplace or other location before being analyzed at a separate laboratory. A urine drug test may be ordered by a doctor or an administrator of a program that requires drug testing. Urine drug tests can also be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription. At-home drug tests conducted using a urine sample are available for a variety of drugs. Individual at-home urine drug tests detect one drug, while at-home urine panel tests detect evidence of multiple drugs in one urine sample. At-home urine drug testing offers only preliminary and is not a substitute for laboratory-based testing.
If preliminary are positive, an additional confirmation test is necessary to reduce the risk of an inaccurate test result. Laboratory testing is the most reliable way to confirm a positive drug screening result. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using at-home drug testing in children and adolescents due to the lack of evidence that at-home drug testing reduces drug use in children and adolescents. Additional risks include the potential for misinterpreting test and the negative effect that testing may have on the relationship between children and parents.
Before purchasing an at-home urine drug test, parents may be advised to speak with a doctor or pediatrician. The cost of urine drug testing depends on many factors, including where the test is conducted and whether the test detects one drug or several drugs in the urine sample. The cost of urine drug testing may include the office visit and a fee for sample collection, in addition to the test itself. Workplace, military, and athletic drug testing may be paid for by the employer or organization requiring testing.
Length of time that specific drugs process out
Urine drug tests conducted in a laboratory are performed on a clean catch urine sample. Clean catch urine samples require that patients take several steps to reduce the risk of contaminating the urine sample. A clean catch urine sample can be collected in a laboratory, hospital, or other testing site. In order to prevent tampering with or contaminating a urine sample, patients may be monitored or observed during the process of collecting urine. During urine collection monitoring, a trained staff member checks the restroom before the patient enters to collect their sample.
During direct observation, a professional watches the patient while the sample is being collected. Before a urine drug test, tell your doctor or the test administrator about any over-the-counter or prescription medications or supplements that you have recently taken.
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In some cases, certain medication and supplements can trigger a positive screening result on a drug test. For a urine drug test taken at a laboratory, additional measures may be taken to prevent tampering with the urine sample. For example, patients are given a plastic container that is sealed in tamper-proof packaging. Additionally, the water supply in the bathroom may be turned off, and the water in the toilet may be tinted with a blue dye.
When preparing to take an at-home urine drug testing, begin by reading all instructions provided in the test kit. Test kits should include instructions, a collection container, and the test itself.
What to know about urine drug screening
At home urine drug tests may be test strips, a test card, or a test cassette. The clean catch method of collecting a urine sample begins with patients washing their hands with soap and water to remove any germs. Patients may also be instructed to clean their genitals with a pad or wipe provided by the test administrator.
Patients urinate into the collection container until it is filled to a pre-marked level. Once filled, the collection container is moved out of the urine stream and the patient finishes urinating into the toilet. Urine drug testing is painless, although some patients may experience anxiety during the collection process.
Collecting a clean catch sample of urine for an at-home urine drug test is similar to collecting urine for laboratory-based testing. For tests that can be fully completed at home, test kits include a testing device that is either immersed in the urine sample or allows the patient to place a drop of urine into the test cassette. Once a urine sample is collected for laboratory testing, patients may be instructed to close the sample container and return it to a trained staff member.
Laboratory staff may record the temperature of the sample and secure it in tamper-proof packaging before it is sent for testing.
Table of contents
The of a urine drug test are generally available within a few business days after the test is taken. Patients may learn about their from a phone call or from their doctor, a staff member at the facility conducting the test, or from the organization requiring drug testing. In some cases, urine drug test may be delivered in the mail. For at-home test kits that allow for testing in the home, test kit instructions should indicate how long to wait before reading test.
For at-home collection kits that are sent to a laboratory, it may take a few additional days for to become available.
How long do drugs stay in your system?
Initial drug tests typically provide within minutes, allowing patients and health care providers to interpret by looking for the presence or absence of a colored band on the test device or get the from an automated laboratory analyzer. Test from an initial drug test, including at-home urine drug tests, provide only preliminary.
A negative result on an initial drug test indicates that no evidence of drug use or misuse was detected in the urine sample.
If initial drug test are positive, the sample should be sent to a laboratory for a confirmatory test that uses more specific test methods. The of a confirmatory drug test conducted in a laboratory may be reported as positive, negative, or invalid. A negative test result on a confirmatory test indicates that no evidence of drug use was detected. If a test is found to be invalid, the laboratory will typically report the reason for this result.
Urine drug tests
While the amount of a drug that triggers a positive result can vary between labs, many labs use standards established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA for drug-free workplace programs. SAMHSA has established cutoff values for five drugs or drug classes in the urine that are included in federal drug-free workplace policies: marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine PCPand several types of opioids.
Special precautions may be taken during sample collection, transportation, and testing to improve test accuracy. Inaccurate test can occur, with several factors impacting test accuracy:. After an initial or at-home urine drug test, follow-up testing by the laboratory is necessary to confirm positive test.
In some cases, a doctor may evaluate a patient for a substance use disorder after a positive result on a urine drug screening test. During an evaluation for a substance use disorder, a patient is asked a series of questions to determine the pattern and effects of drug use or misuse. Treatment is available for drug use, misuse, and addiction. Patients may find it helpful to talk to their doctor about test. Questions may include:. Medical Encyclopedia. Updated February 7,