A drug screening can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you don’t have a basic knowledge of urine drug test facts. But even if you’re guilty of nothing, you’re still asking the question: Wait, did I eat a poppy-seed muffin this morning? More on that later.
We’ve all been there: you’re about to start a new job, and the employer requires urine analysis. But that’s a fancy way of saying, you need to go pee in this cup. Perhaps with someone watching. Talk about stage fright.
But let’s set aside the awkwardness and give you some real information to consider. If you understand the process, the advantages and disadvantages, and the weaknesses in the testing process, you have the power.
Urine is the Most Common Form of Testing
A urine sample is widely known as the most common form of drug testing for several reasons:
- It’s cheap. Compared to other types of testing like blood and saliva, a urine sample is cost effective and requires only the proper cup to store the urine. Other methods require more lab work as well as additional training for the person performing the test.
- It’s convenient. Urine testing is a simple process often performed on site with little room for error. It’s also less invasive than other forms of testing.
- It’s accurate. A urine test will reveal the presence of drugs in the system as well as those that have left even after the effects have worn off.
- But that also depends on the drug. At the employer’s discretion, they request a five-panel or ten-panel test.
5 Panel vs. 10 Panel Testing
When we say “5-panel”, we’re referring to a test looking for five specific drugs in the system. This list includes:
- Opiates (Codeine, morphine, heroin)
- Amphetamines (Methamphetamine)
However, some employers may want to dig a little deeper by going with the nine or ten-panel drug test which includes various prescription drugs like:
- MDMA (Ecstacy)
The time frame for detection from a urinalysis depends on the drug. For common “street drugs” like cocaine and PCP, the detection period can be 2-5 days. For opiates and meth, it’s closer to a week, and for marijuana, a positive test could happen two months after eating your friends “special” brownies.
And yes, in some cases, poppy seeds can cause a false positive drug test. The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) says that morphine can be present in a urine sample after ingesting poppy seeds.
So, try to cut back on those muffins and bagels you like so much.
The employer determines how extensive the test will be. But who does the testing?
The Companies That Drug Test
But who exactly is responsible for that cup of urine you graciously provide? Here’s a list of the companies that handle drug tests:
- Laboratory Corp of America Holdings
- Quest Diagnostics Inc.
- National Toxicology Labs, Inc.
- Phamatech, Inc.
All of these companies perform different types of drug testing, but is a urine sample really the best method for collection?
Disadvantages to Urine Testing
It’s a little awkward. Urine testing may be the cheapest and simplest form of testing, but it can also be embarrassing. There’s just something really awkward about peeing in a cup while someone is waiting outside for you to finish. Sometimes they have to be in the room with you to prevent any tampering. Have you tried peeing in front of someone before? Talk about stage fright.
Compared to other testing methods, urine testing just seems more intrusive.
It’s a Black & White Process
While a urine test can determine whether a person has tested positive for an illegal drug, it cannot accurately provide an estimate as to the amount a person has taken. Nor can it indicate how often. But an employer doesn’t care about how much you’ve taken. They only worry about a positive test.
A urine screening is a pass or fail process. It does not provide the necessary information needed for an individual to seek treatment.
Easy to Pass
Urine testing is by far the easiest to Pass. Samples are often subbed in the bathroom, and people can dilute a sample to create a false negative. One such way is using synthetic urine which can pass as the real stuff.
Of course, using other methods of testing can avoid these disadvantages.
There’s More Than One Type of Test
Urine is the most common type of testing, but there are other ways to test.
Blood testing is the most accurate form of testing, and there is less risk of tampering. They also determine the amounts of the drug in a person’s system at that very moment. But they must also be administered by medical professionals and as a result, are a costly method.
A saliva test is like urine in that it can detect drug usage from a few hours up to a number of days. It’s a relatively easy test where someone swabs the inside of your mouth. So no trips to the bathroom. It’s also nearly impossible to cheat.
Hair testing is usually better for determining long-term drug use; usually up to three months. The process involves one to one-and-a-half inches of hair removed from the scalp. Hair can be tested for any number of drugs, but for those follicly challenged, look elsewhere.
We’ve all had to do a drug test at some point in our lives. And while it can be stressful, knowing some basic facts such as the actual process, what they test for, who gathers the information and possible disadvantages can make you better informed.
Testing is necessary because it protects not only the employer and your fellow employees but yourself and whether you should seek treatment. We’re often afraid of what we don’t understand. By staying in the know and learning some urine drug test facts, you will be ready when your random number gets called. If you’re not ready you can order a bottle of Quick Fix.