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Drug testing facts
tee's Avatar
Posts: 4,130
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Drug testing facts - 07-05-2005, 08:24 PM


First, let's dispel a myth. There is no single drug test that will detect each and every substance consumed by you. Each drug must be tested for independently. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) specifies that the minimum test be for the following 5 catagories (this is commonly referred to as a 5 panel test by the drug testing industry):
-Amphetamines and methamphetamines (Ectasy will show up here,as well as the diet pill Phentermine)
-Cannabinoids (Marijuana and Hashish)
-Opiates (this includes Heroin, Opium, Morphine and Codeine)
-Phencyclidine (commonly known as PCP and Angel Dust)
While this is usually the minimal test, additional testing can include:
-Anabolic steroids (Stanazolol, Nandrolene, etc.)
-Barbituates (includes Amytal, Fioricet, Nembutal, Seconal)
-Benzodiazepines (includes Ativan, Klonapin, Librium, Valium, Xanax)
-Methadone (used to overcome withdrawal symptoms from Opiates)
-Methaqualone (Quaaludes)
-Propoxyphene (includes Darvon and Darvocet)

While not tested for, under NIDA guidelines, here's info on alcohol that might be helpful. It is usually metabolized and undetectable after 18 to 24 hours. If you ever wonder what your blood alcohol might be, after a few drinks, try this link

Amphetamines and Methamphetamines---------------------------1 to 4 days
Anabolic steroids (orally)------------------------------------------14 to 28 days
Anabolic steroids (parenterally)----------------------------------30 to 60 days
Barbiturates----------------------------------------------------------2 to 3 days
Benzodiazepines-----------------------------------------------------21 to 30 days
Cannabinoids, Marijuana
Single use---------------------------------------- 3 to 7 days*
Moderate use (once or twice a week)--------21 to 30 days*
Chronic use (at least once a day)-------------up to 60 days*
(*These times relate to outdoor grown "street" marijuana, which has a typical THC level of 2% to 3%. Indoor grown "cryppie" can have THC levels as high as 7% to 10%, so keep that in mind.)
Cocaine-------------------------------------1 to 3 days
Codeine-------------------------------------2 to 4 days
Methadone---------------------------------4 to 7 days
Methaqualone------------------------------2 to 4 days
Opiates-------------------------------------2 to 4 days**
(**Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are synthetic versions of morphine, found in pain medications such as Lorcet, OxyCotin, Perocet, Vicodin, etc. Normal dosage of these is not usually detectable as an opiate, but excessive use can be detected. As use of these medications become more wide spread, however, specific tests for synthetic morphine are being added to the opiates list.)
Phencyclidine------------------------------3 to 5 days


History of use (the greater the frequency of use, the longer the detection period)
Metabolism (a faster metabolism gets rid of the substance more easily, so exercise)
Body weight (the more body fat, the longer the detection time)
Potency of drug (this is obvious)
Tolerance (prolonged use brings higher tolerance and shorter detection times, as the body metabolizes the substance more quickly)

To view laws for your particular state, click this link

Drug testing basically falls under two categories, "screening" and "presumptive". Screening, as the name implies, is used to screen out drug users, either thru pre-employment testing or ran*** testing. It is intended to be a deterrent to drug use. The most common screen test is urine analysis, although a hair test is sometimes used.

Presumptive testing is used when you actions raise suspicions of drug use. These suspicions can range from slurred speech to being involved in an accident. A blood test is usually administered, in these cases, but sometimes saliva testing will be used.

By whatever method a drug is taken, it winds up in your bloodstream, where it gets converted to metabolites. The traces of most drug metabolites become undetectable, in urine or blood tests, within a few days, but marijuana presents special problems. While it is the most popular drug and thus the most commonly tested for drug, it is also the drug that hangs around the longest in our bodies.

It contains a psychoactive compound, known as THC, that becomes attached to fat cells in our bodies. These fat cells slowly release the THC back into the blood stream, where it is then excreted via urine. It is still being released days after the last use of marijuana. The length of time, it is detectable in urine, depends on the potency and how often it is used. This is why a casual user can have undetectable levels after just a few days, while a heavy user may have to wait up to 30 to 60 days.

Additional factors affecting detection times are weight and metabolism. The bigger you are, the more fat cells you have, making you a bigger warehouse for THC. The higher your metabolism, the faster you burn these fat cells, ridding yourself of the drug metabolites. Being skinny and hyper is a definite advantage.

Other drugs that hang around for a long time are sedative benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax and Librium. This is okay. Just be able to produce a current prescription before the test.

Hair testing presents a more difficult problem and a common question is how drugs even get into your hair. Well those drug metabolites, running around in your blood, are getting absorbed by the hair follicles in your scalp. As your hair grows out of those follicles the hair strands are also picking up those traces of drug metabolities. This is true for any and all absorbed drugs.

Your hair retains a history of drug use for a long time. A strand of hair grows an average of 1/4" per month, so just a 4" length can show drug use as far back as 8 months. Shampoos, bleach and dyes are not effective in masking the drugs, but will only reduce the metabolite level embedded in the hair, never eliminating it.

African-Americans are at a particular disadvantage with hair testing. Because of the melanin in their hair, which really soaks up the drug metabolites, they can be up to 50 times more likely to test positive.

Hair absorbation of second hand smoke is not likely unless you're in a very confined area, like a car, and there is an extreme concentration of smoke. Simply being in a room, club, bar, etc., where there is smoke, is not a problem, so don't use that as an excuse.

As previously mentioned, the most common test is urine analysis. It involves the use of a chemical compounds called immunoassays. These are special antibodies that are attracted to the specific drug or drugs, for which a person is being tested.

If drugs are present, in the urine, these antibodies bind to the drug molecule and this binding is detectable with the appropriate laboratory test equipment.

The EMIT (Enzyme Multiplied Immunoassay Test) is the prevailing test procedure. This is primarily because it is the least expensive method, costing $60 to $100. It is also the least reliable test. The immunoassays used, often have trouble distinguishing between the drugs for which they are searching and other substances in the urine sample. They can bind with numerous over-the-counter and prescription medications, giving a "false positive" result.

Other immunoassay test are the RIA (Radioimmunoassay) and FPITA (Fluorescent Polarization Immunoassay). The RIA procedure is widely used by the U.S. military. While these tests are more costly, sensitive and selective, they are far from being infallible. The inherent problem, with any immunossay test, is the inability to absolutely distinguish between specific drugs, whether it be illicit drugs, prescription medication or over-the-counter medication.

If you should test positive by immunoassy testing, demand confirmation by a more sophisticated method. Immunoassay test are so unreliable, the results are not even admissible in a court of law. They are wrong as much as 25% of the time. The laboratories won't admit this and your employer or pending employer are just going to believe whatever pitch the laboratory gives them. Don't be afraid to challenge the test results!

To top all of this off, you are probably being tested by a laboratory that put in the lowest bid and does not have to meet any particular guidelines. This is what you're up against. Only federal employees and those engaged in public transportation are required to be tested by National Institute of Drug Abuse certificated laboratories.

More expensive and refined testing procedures are GC (Gas Chromatography), GLC (Gas Liquid Chromatography) and GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry). GC/MS is by far the most precise testing method and the results meet forensic specifications and can be used in court. If you are positive, GC/MS will get you! This test can also be used on all body fluids.

Blood testing, most often used when there is an accident, will show the real level of drug intoxication, whereas other testing methods only show the presence of drugs. This is important to remember because being tested positive, by other than a blood or saliva test, does not mean you were under the influence of drugs at the time of the test.

Just as a note, all test results can be flawed by such things as incorrectly calibrated test equipment, contaminated samples, incorrect interpretation of results, clerical errors and just about any other way a person can make a mistake.

By the way, most of the advertised cleansers are simply high priced diuretics or some type of herbal tea. Drinking alot of cranberry juice will work just as well

If it's test day, don't eat any poppy seed bagels for breakfast. Recently digested poppy seeds can make you look like you just came from an opium den.

Even if you're clean, you're fighting an uphill battle. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause "false positive" results. Some of the categories include:

-headache and pain medications that contain ibuprofen

-allergy medications

-cold remedies

-PMS medications

-sleep aids

-sinus medications

-appetite suppressants

-nasal and throat sprays

-nasal inhalers

-pain medication

-antibiotics--(amoxicillin is notorious for giving a "false positive" for cocaine use.. also just having diabetes or a kidney or liver infection or disease can show a "false positive"..)

-kidney infection medications


So it's obviously necessary to list any and all medications, taken within the last 30 days. If you have been taking anything that requires a doctor's prescription, be sure you'll able to provide proof, such as the bottle, etc. Don't forget that those sedative benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax and Librium, hang around for up to 30 days.

One strategy, people consider before a drug test, is to substitute or alter the urine sample. Be aware that if you are caught, there can be serious consequences. In some states it is a criminal offense.

If your job application is rejected. You may never know the test results, as you will probably be given some other excuse. If you are told that the test was "positive" you can ask for a confirming test. They may or may comply; this can depend on how badly they want your services. Don't think that you are buying time and can give another sample. Most likely, your original sample has been stored and will be tested again. Try to find out if this is the case.

Now suppose your present employer, through ran*** testing, gets you, what happens? They are legally required to give you a confirming test only if you request it.

Employers are becoming less aggressive about termination of those who test "positive" unless your safety, the safety of your follow workers or the safety of the public is at risk. Some companies may offer a suspension, rehab or some other compromise. The more valued you are, as an employee, the more they will work with you.

The bottom line is that there are no absolute guarantees that you will pass a drug test. Follow the procedures, we have laid out, and you will definitely improve your odds. This is especially true if you consider yourself borderline.

If you want to fight the system, then there is always legal recourse. Some of the below links will direct you to that area. Of special interest may be the ACLU and NORML sites.

We think we have laid out the truth, without any hype, and sincerely hope that you will benefit by this. Just e-mail us if you have any thoughts or questions. We'll do our best to help.

Our e-mail address is [email protected]
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SandMan-WES's Avatar
Posts: 223
Join Date: May 2005
07-05-2005, 11:45 PM

Wow even though im never getting tested this is a good read.
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