Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is probably the most common substance that individuals are found positive for on drug screening tests. It is found naturally, and exclusively, in the marijuana, or cannabis plant. A pharmaceutical formulation, which is basically synthetic THC, is available by prescription and is known by the brand name Marinol. Marijuana can be found in various forms, including the dried flower buds, processed into hash or oil, or baked into foods such as cookies or brownies.
Users can either smoke the hash, oil or dried buds, or eat the baked goods. Inhalation or consumption of cannabis produces mild to moderate analgesic effects. This includes feelings of relaxation and euphoria, but can also lead to feeling anxious or paranoid. Marijuana is also used to relieve pain since it alters transmitter release in the periaqueductal gray (PAG) and the dorsal root ganglion in the spinal cord.
THC has also been known to stimulate the appetite and is prescribed for such purposes when a suppressed appetite is the effect of a disease or cancer treatment such as radiation therapy. Although many states recognize the medicinal uses of marijuana and allow its legal prescription, the Federal government classifies it as a schedule 1 drug with no medicinal value. Therefore, THC is still tested for in all standard 5 panel drug tests, regardless if it is legalized in a particular state.
DOT strictly prohibits the use of marijuana for safety sensitive employees including truck drivers. Employers in all States have a right to implement a drug free workplace which can include a policy which prohibits marijuana use and allows the employer to have disciplinary consequences for a positive marijuana drug test.
Cocaine, or coke, is a strong stimulant generally used as a recreational drug. It is processed from the leaves of the coco plant that is native to South America. Cocaine is usually in the form of a white powder and is often mixed with similar looking powders, such as baking soda, as fillers. It is usually inhaled or snorted, or injected in order to produce its effects of wakefulness and/or numbing. It is also used as an appetite suppressant.
The Federal government recognizes cocaine as a schedule 2 drug with a much higher potential for addiction and abuse than Schedule 1 drugs. Habitual use of cocaine is likely to result in physical or psychological dependence so it is considered very dangerous and is tested for in all 5 panel drug tests.
Amphetamines are usually found in pill form and are susceptible to artificial fillers much like cocaine, since it is often crushed by the user for snorting. Some common forms include Adderall and Ritalin, which are used to treat ADD and ADHD. Amphetamines are also stimulants and appetite suppressants, much like cocaine but to a lesser extent. They are well known to be used among college and high school students as a “study drug” since they allow the user to stay alert and awake longer, and be much more focused.
Methamphetamine, or “meth”, is a form of amphetamine that is found as a powder or in crystallized form and is highly dangerous and addictive. Meth creates a strong and violent addiction, and requires a larger amount with each use to experience the same high. Prolonged use destroys dopamine receptors and will make it impossible to feel pleasure. Amphetamine, and Methamphetamine, is considered a schedule 2 drug with high potential for abuse resulting in dangerous physical dependence or psychological addiction. Although it is available by prescription, it is illegal to use amphetamines recreationally.
The five panel drug test when detecting Amphetamine, and Methamphetamine will also identify 3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) a synthetic drug known as Ecstasy or Molly.
Opiates are used to create drugs such as heroin, and other medicinal painkillers like morphine. It is derived from the opium poppy plant originating in South-East Asia. Opiates increase euphoria and reduce pain in the user. They can be snorted, smoked or injected. Both physical dependence and psychological addiction is very strong. There are many variations, some legitimately used in the medical field, so the DEA schedules them differently. For example, heroin is a schedule 1 while Vicodin is a schedule 3 drug.
Phencyclidine, also known as PCP or angel dust, is legitimately made as an animal tranquilizer, which is often stolen or made in laboratories illegally. It is either in the form of a clear, yellowish liquid or in a powder. PCP is taken in a variety of different ways, including snorting, smoking, and injecting. The effects are dangerous hallucinations, and prolonged use can result in states similar to schizophrenia. PCP is considered by the Federal government to be a schedule 2 substance.
Those are the most commonly abused substances that National Drug Screening will screen for during a 5 panel drug screen test. Although most private employers in the United States have a variety of options when it comes to the type of drug test (4 panel drug test, 5 panel drug test, 7 panel drug test, 10 panel drug test, etc.), as well as the testing specimen (blood, urine, hair, or saliva), most stick with the industry standard 5 panel drug screening test. For that reason, unless you have the need to test for a specific substance that is not included in the five panel drug test, National Drug Screening recommends sticking with the standard 5 panel. All drug testing panels can be ordered from National Drug Screening.