Drug testing is the evaluation of a urine, blood or other type of biological sample to determine if the subject has been using the drug or drugs in question. The majority of drug tests are for pre-employment, court ordered or probationary purposes. It is important for the test subjects, employers and drug screening facilities to be aware of the process so that there are no surprises along the way. Here are some answers to those common drug testing questions:
What happens during a workplace drug test?
A potential employee will be notified that he/she has to pass a drug test before they begin working at the establishment. Often times, this drug test needs to be administered within a given time frame so that the subject isn’t able to prepare themselves to pass the test. Once you arrive at the specified facility, you’ll have to provide a sample (usually urine) to the laboratory personnel. Once you have submitted the sample, it will be passed down a strict chain-of-custody to prevent any tampering. The law requires everyone who touches the sample to document their work and keep it on file. Some employers will choose a 5 panel test that includes your most common street drugs like marijuana and cocaine. They could also elect to use a 10 panel test that widens the drugs being tested for to prescription drugs like oxycodone. It all depends on what the company and drug testing facility have agreed to.
How long can drugs be detecting with a test?
This is the most frequently asked question and unfortunately, there is no right answer. A drug’s presence in your system all depends on the half-life of the drug in question. For example, Xanax has a half-life of around 10-20 hours. But that does not mean that everyone can rid themselves of the substance in one day. Chronic users might see the drug stay in their system for as long as a month depending on their weight, hydration and other variables.
How long does it take to receive results?
Typically, you will receive your results within a few days. If your test comes back positive, you should receive a call from a Medical Review Officer (MRO) for further questioning. If it comes back negative, the drug testing facility will contact the employer and let them know. Sometimes you won’t hear back from an employer about your test at all. They will only let you know if you have been hired or not.
How common are false positives or negatives?
They’re certainly possible when it comes to the initial drug screening. But once it goes through the confirmatory test, it is highly unlikely that a false result will come out the other end. You can actually help prevent false positives or negatives by being diligent with your pre-test evaluation. Be sure to note any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you have taken in the last 30 days. If you fail to, the facility won’t be aware of that drug’s presence and it could perceive it as a positive test.
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