For people that now take drug tests at the workplace, or maybe even before starting work, when a job offer is made, there are some new things to learn, especially if you’re curious about the process. Workplace drug testing started in the 1980s, but since then, it has grown in popularity, not just as a way for some businesses to get a bit more peace of mind, but for some government agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, to make a mandatory part of the work experience.
This may mean that you’ve encountered something during your work experience known as panel drug testing. But what is this, and what does it mean to you?
Panels Are Specific
The easiest way to think of a panel drug test is that each panel represents a type of drug. So when you are asked to take a 5-panel drug test, for example, that means that the test is capable of testing for at least five different drug types. Fortunately, this testing is simultaneous, so that doesn’t mean, for example, that with a 5-panel urine drug test, you have to somehow come up with five separate urine samples.
The 5-panel drug test is the most common test administered, and that’s because it tests for the most common drugs. 5-panel drug tests look for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, and opiates. However, within the opiate class, the test is capable of detecting codeine, morphine, and heroin.
Testing For More
Today, there’s more than the 5-panel test. There are 10 and even 14-panel tests that look for a broader range of substances. A 10-panel test includes the substances of a 5-panel test but also looks for prescription drugs, such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines, PPX, quaalude, and methadone. Due to the drop in quaalude usage, some drug tests offer a 9-panel test instead, withdrawing that particular panel if there’s high confidence it won’t be an issue.
For organizations more concerned with more conventional, prescription drugs, especially the painkilling type that is now considered parts of the opioid crisis, an expanded opiates panel may be used instead. This can test for opioids—modern, often synthetic opiate derivatives—such as oxycontin, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. There are also tests for alcohol if it’s required.
Different organizations will have a different focus for which drugs they are concerned about. It all starts with the 5-panel drug test but can expand easily from there.