Drug test

Drug test
Medical diagnostics

A drug test is a technical analysis of a biological specimen, for example urine, hair, blood, breath, sweat, and/or oral fluid/saliva — to determine the presence or absence of specified parent drugs or their metabolites. Major applications of drug testing include detection of the presence of performance enhancing steroids in sport, employers and parole/probation officers screening for drugs prohibited by law (such as cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin) and police officers testing for the presence and concentration of alcohol (ethanol) in the blood commonly referred to as BAC (blood alcohol content). BAC tests are typically administered via a breathalyzer while urinalysis is used for the vast majority of drug testing in sports and the workplace. Numerous other methods with varying degrees of accuracy, sensitivity (detection threshold/cutoff), and detection periods exist.

A drug test may also refer to a test that provides quantitative chemical analysis of an illegal drug, typically intended to help with responsible drug use.[1]

Detection periods

The following chart gives approximate detection periods for each substance by test type.[2]

The detection windows depend upon multiple factors: drug class, amount and frequency of use, metabolic rate, body mass, age, overall health, and urine pH. For ease of use, the detection times of metabolites have been incorporated into each parent drug. For example, heroin and cocaine can only be detected for a few hours after use, but their metabolites can be detected for several days in urine. The chart depicts the longer detection times of the metabolites.

Oral fluid or saliva testing results for the most part mimic that of blood. The only exceptions are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and benzodiazepines. Oral fluid will likely detect THC from ingestion up to a maximum period of 6–12 hours. This continues to cause difficulty in oral fluid detection of THC and benzodiazepines.[3]

Breath air for the most part mimics blood tests as well. Due to the very low levels of substances in the breath air, liquid chromatography—mass spectrometry has to be used to analyze the sample according to a recent publication wherein 12 analytes were investigated.

Rapid oral fluid products are not approved for use in workplace drug testing programs and are not FDA cleared. Using rapid oral fluid drug tests in the workplace is prohibited in only:[4]

Approximate values for detection periods[5]
Substance Urine Hair Blood / Oral Fluid
Alcohol 6–24 hours[6] Note: Alcohol tests may measure ethyl glucuronide, which can stay in urine for up to 80 hours up to 90 days[7] 12 to 24 hours
Amphetamines (except methamphetamine) 1 to 3 days[8] up to 90 days 12 hours
Methamphetamine 3 to 5 days[9] up to 90 days 1 to 3 days[9]
MDMA (Ecstasy) 3 to 4 days up to 90 days 3 to 4 days
Barbiturates (except phenobarbital) 1 day up to 90 days 1 to 2 days
Phenobarbital 2 to 3 weeks[10] up to 90 days 4 to 7 days
Benzodiazepines Therapeutic use: up to 7 days. Chronic use (over one year): 4 to 6 weeks up to 90 days 6 to 48 hours
Cannabis Passive inhalation: up to 22 minutes** Infrequent users: 7-10 Days; Heavy users:30 to 100 days;[11][12][13] up to 90 days[11] 2 to 3 days in blood, up to 2 weeks in blood of heavy users[11] However, it depends on whether actual THC or THC metabolites are being tested for, the latter having a much longer detection time than the former. THC (found in marijuana) may only be detectable in saliva/oral fluid for 2 to 24 hours in most cases.
Cocaine 2 to 5 days (with exceptions for heavy users who can test positive up to 7–10 days, and individuals with certain kidney disorders) up to 90 days 2 to 10 days
Codeine 2 to 3 days up to 90 days 1 to 4 days
Cotinine (a breakdown product of nicotine) 2 to 4 days up to 90 days 2 to 4 days
Morphine 2 to 4 days up to 90 days 1 to 3 days
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA's) 7 to 10 days[14] Undetectable[15] Detectable but dose relationship not established[16]
LSD 2–24 hours up to 4 days[citation needed] 2 to 4 days
Methadone 7 to 10 days up to 90 days 24 hours
Steroids 3 to 30 days
PCP 3 to 7 days for single use; up to 30 days in chronic users[17] up to 90 days 1 to 3 days[17]
Other Languages
Deutsch: Drogentest
Nederlands: Drugstest
slovenščina: Test drog
српски / srpski: Тестирање на дроге
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Testiranje na droge
svenska: Drogtest
中文: 藥物測試