Category Archives: Drug Testing

Drug Testing

A Comprehensive List Of Compounds That A Urine Test Can Identify

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Drug addiction has been one of the major problems in the world. Despite all efforts in trying to prevent these illicit substances from circulating further, drug traders seem to have a way to get past authorities. This is the reason why detection of drug use has become popular, particularly through the use of a urine test.

The Reality of Drug Abuse and Addiction

Taking illicit substances usually start out as an outlet for something unfavorable in a person’s life. However, due to the habit-forming nature of these drugs, the intention of just trying it once becomes a frequent activity until it gets out of control.

Drug addiction does not only affect the user, but also hurt his family and the people around him. Some of these drugs have caused broken relationships and destroyed lives. Unless somebody cares to help a user get out of the hole, drug addiction will continue to entice more people to go through with the vice.

What’s worse is that a lot of people receive wrong information that could eventually lead to their early demise.

drug addiction

Drug Testing

Drug testing is a process by which an individual is asked to provide a sample of urine, blood, hair or saliva to detect the presence of drug metabolites in his system. This has been a controversial issue within the workplace, as employees perceive the activity as an invasion of privacy if they were asked to undergo drug testing. For some people, as long as they are able to perform their jobs well, whatever they do outside of work should be not of any concern by their employer.

While this may be true in some sense, a large percentage of workplace accidents are caused by employees who report to work heavily intoxicated with either drugs or alcohol.

Workplace drug testing may be an additional expense on the employer. However, apart from the goal of becoming successful in the business that they are in, company owners need to provide assurance to employees that they are working with a healthy and safe workplace environment for everyone.

Drug testing as part of the pre-employment process can be a big help in identifying applicants who may be using drugs. This may be perceived as a form of discrimination, but people should start seeing the whole picture in a different perspective. The end goal would mean success and safety for the employers, employees and the customers.

Here are some of the benefits of implementing a workplace drug testing policy:

  • Pre-employment drug testing can screen drug users prior to employment.
  • Allowing to have drug testing promotes a healthy and safe workplace. Employees who are handling different types of heavy machinery are at high risk of succumbing to accidents and injuries. Therefore, they should always have a clear mind to be able to make decisions with the best intention of performing their respective jobs dutifully.
  • Employees who may have problems with drug problems can receive assistance by recommending to them a rehabilitation facility where they can be treated.
  • A safe workplace promotes better productivity among employees. It creates little to no obstruction with the normal flow of everyone’s work, and it provides everyone with peace of mind that they are working in a safe environment.
  • Changing jobs frequently will not be a problem because drug-free employees are able to perform well in their assigned jobs. It can significantly drop the rate of employee turnover.
  • It helps reduce conflicts between employees and employers. Individuals who use drugs may have an aggressive behavior. By having a drug testing program, the company can detect employees who are using drugs before conflicts arise.
  • Having a drug testing program allows the employees to have awareness regarding the dangers of drugs. Information dissemination can be done through seminars, workshops, drug forums and distribution of flyers and post anti-drug ad campaigns within the company premises.

Drug Testing Methods

Drug testing has been proven to be one of the best solutions for maintaining company reputation. It also promotes the production of high-quality products and services backed up by employees who work their individual jobs in a healthy and safe environment.

Below are the drug testing methods used to detect the presence of drugs in the body.

  1. Urine test
  2. Blood test
  3. Saliva Test
  4. Hair Test
  5. Sweat Test

Each of these drug testing methods has their own window detection time. This is the period in which the drug test can still detect the drug metabolite in the sample.

The testing method should be conducted appropriately to ensure accuracy and reliability. It is likely to have a negative test result when the test has been done beyond the detection window. The drug detection time can be affected by the amount of drug intake, the type of drug, the type of specimen used, and the frequency of drug use.

Urine Test

urine test same day drug testing

A urine drug test is the common method of choice because of its accuracy in detecting the presence of drugs. Although some would choose to perform other types of drug testing, urinalysis has been the commonly used method since it is less expensive and non-invasive.

Here are the drug detection times for urine test :

Substance Drug Detection Times
Alcohol 24-48 hours
Amphetamine 2-5 days
Anabolic Steroids 3 weeks- 9 months
Barbiturates 2 days- 4 weeks
Benzodiazepines 7-10 days
Cocaine 2-5 days
Codeine 5-7 days
Heroin 5-7 days
LSD 7-10 days
Marijuana 5-60 days
Mescaline 5-7 days
Methadone 1-2 days
Methamphetamine 3-5 days
Methaqualone 2 weeks
Morphine 5-7 days
Nicotine 4-10 days
Opium 5-7 days
Phencyclidine & Analogs 2-8 days


Can Urine Tests That Detect Other Compounds?

urine test collect sample in urinal

A typical urine test can detect various components of urine. It does not only detect the presence of drug metabolites, but can also determine the cause of existing symptoms.

Waste materials, fluids, and other substances from the blood are passed in the urine through the kidney. The kind of food consumed, the quality of lifestyle and the condition of the kidney will affect what is in the urine.

There are various tests which can be done just by simply using a urine sample. A regular urinalysis often includes the following tests:


Fluid balance, diet, medicines and presence of diseases may affect the color of the urine. A darker urine color may indicate low water content.


Urine is normally clear, but the presence of blood, pus, or bacteria can make it appear cloudy.


Normally, the urine does not have a strong odor. The odor may be caused by the presence of an existing medical condition, particularly bacterial infection.

Specific Gravity

This determines the balance of water in the urine. A high specific gravity indicates more solid materials in the urine while a low specific gravity indicates more water in it.


The normal pH of urine is 7. Anything lower indicates that the urine is strongly acidic, while higher pH values indicate that the urine is strongly alkaline. Abnormal pH level may show indication of formation of kidney stones.


This is not usually found in urine, but traces of protein may show an indication of fever, pregnancy or a kidney disease.


This is the type of sugar found in blood. An unusual amount of glucose in urine is a clear indication of uncontrolled diabetes. It is also possible to see glucose in urine when kidneys are damaged.


The presence of nitrates in urine is an indication of the presence of bacteria that cause a urinary tract infection.

Leukocyte/WBC esterase

This indicates the presence of white blood cells in the urine, which may mean the presence of a urinary tract infection.


Ketones are products from broken down fats. A large amount of this in the urine may indicate a serious condition such as diabetic ketoacidosis. It is also possible to cause ketones in urine when one has a diet that is low in carbohydrate or has severe vomiting episodes.

Red Blood Cells

This may show an indication of a disease, inflammation, or injury to the kidney, bladder, or urethra.


Casts are formed when there is a presence of kidney disease in the form of red blood cells, protein or fatty substances.


A large amount of crystals in urine is an indication of the presence of kidney stones.

Squamous Cells

The presence of squamous cells in a urine sample is an indication that the sample is not pure.

Bacteria, Yeast Cells or Parasites

Presence of any of these may indicate an infection.

Urine Test for Specific Medical Issues

urine test for medical purposes

Specific tests may also be required to exactly pinpoint any existing medical conditions based on the symptoms shown from an individual.


Creatinine is a chemical waste product that is produced by muscle metabolism. Normal functioning kidneys are able to filter creatinine out of the body. However, an increase beyond the normal range of 500-2000 mg a day is an indication of a kidney disease, kidney infection, urinary tract obstruction, or kidney failure.

Uric Acid

Uric acid is made up of broken down body cells and food. The kidney functions by taking out the uric acid from the blood to be transported to the urine. But if the body is not functioning normally, a high level of urine acid may be present in urine, which can cause the formation of crystals to form in joints. Such condition is called gout.

If left untreated, this can lead to building up of hard and lumpy deposits called tophi. High uric acid can also cause the formation of kidney stones.


The presence of urea can determine the condition of the kidneys and can also determine if the protein intake is too high or too low. It can also be a significant way in determining if an individual has any problem with protein absorption.


A human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) urine test is also commonly known as a pregnancy test. It is able to detect the presence of the said hormone, which is generally present in all pregnant women.


Bilirubin is the yellowish pigmentation found in bile. An excessive amount of bilirubin can cause yellowing of the skin called jaundice.

Final Word

We hope this list of compounds that are identifiable via urine test can help you optimize the use of this kind of testing procedure for your intended purpose.

Drug Testing Workplace Testing

Step-By-Step Process of A Standard Workplace Drug Testing

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Businesses are built because of individuals who want to earn and to provide products and services that the public may need. However, the crippling issue on drug use in the workplace continues to plague companies of all shapes and sizes. Now more than ever, conducting workplace drug testing has become a necessity.

No company can succeed without the help of people inside the business. It’s important for the company to employ the best people for the job, and it all starts with the hiring process. This is a crucial stage wherein each applicant is interviewed and needs to undergo background checking prior to finally being hired for the position applied for.

However, the hiring process does not stop there. Part of it includes pre-employment drug testing, which has become a very vital part in deciding which applicant can be fit to perform the job.

Reasons for Workplace Drug Testing

Workplace drug testing is being implemented by companies for the following reasons:

To protect the employees and its customers

Employees who may be working under the influence of drugs or alcohol may pose danger upon themselves, fellow employees and the general public. Aside from the possible accidents that can happen, most especially those employees who are working on heavy machinery, any wrong decision could bring huge problems for the company.

To maintain productivity

Employees who are into alcohol or drug use have a higher possibility of frequently being unable to report to work. If they ever find the opportunity to push themselves to report for work, they may not be as productive as usual due to drowsiness or lack of coordination.

To decrease health care costs

Companies suffer from having to pay worker’s compensation when an employee meets an accident at work. This is why some companies would deny coverage of any injury when the use illicit drugs or alcohol comes into play.

To help the community

Companies are able to do their part in addressing drug problems in their community by way of implementing workplace drug testing. The fight against drug abuse and addiction is not something that only the government can solve; everyone in the community has a role to play.

To hopefully prevent drug use

When applicants or employees are aware that the company supports a drug-free workplace, they are more likely to stop using illegal drugs. Otherwise, they may find themselves applying for employment elsewhere.

To help rehabilitate employees

Workplace drug testing is part of a comprehensive drug program that companies implement to provide assistance to employees who are found to be positive with drugs or alcohol. By conducting workplace drug testing within the bounds of a company drug policy, employees who are found using drugs may be referred to specialists who will help them in the treatment and recovery process.

In compliance with state laws or federal regulations

Some jobs require the clearance of workplace drug testing, especially those who are working in critical and safety-sensitive industries such as aviation, transportation and mining.

Drug-Free Workplace Policy

workplace drug testing employer

Some employers may be in denial that any of their employees are using illicit drugs. However, careful scrutiny and the conduct of drug testing can change all that. In contrast, the absence of workplace drug testing may allow employees to work without the employer knowing that some of them are reporting to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The best way for any company to be spared from accidents waiting to happen is by implementing a workplace drug testing program. The employer needs to come up with a policy that will hopefully address the company’s thrust in maintaining a drug-free workplace. A drug-free workplace advisor from the U.S. Department of Labor can help guide employers in formulating such policy.

A standard drug-free workplace policy should contain the following information:

  • The purpose or goal of the program
  • The individuals covered by the policy
  • The time and date when the policy will take effect
  • The type of behavior that will be prohibited
  • Employees informing the company about past drug-related convictions
  • Implementation of drug testing
  • The consequences if the policy has been violated
  • Return-to-work agreement
  • The type of assistance available for those who were found to be positive

It should be made clear in the policy that all current employees and new hires should be informed that any use of drugs or alcohol in the workplace – no matter how small or rare – will not be tolerated.

The policy should be cascaded to all employees, who should affix their signatures as proof that they understand. The same policy and other information pertaining to the dangers of drug use and its consequences should be handed out in the form of flyers or pamphlets. In addition, opportunities for education on workplace safety and substance abuse should also be available.

What Employees Should Expect in Workplace Drug Testing

Some employees may deem workplace drug testing unnecessary and an invasion of privacy. However, when visualized in a different perspective, employees should realize that workplace drug testing is not done for the sake of the company alone but rather for the safety of all employees.

The Drug Testing Index determines the status of drug users among employees. Despite the steady decline on rates of drug use in past years, employee drug use is starting to pick up again, particularly marijuana use. This should cause alarm to both employers and employees, as a rising trend in drug use increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries in the workplace.

A drug-free workplace policy should clearly indicate that workplace drug testing may be conducted in different situations, which include the following:

1. Pre-employment drug testing

Companies are now keener in ensuring that all prospective employees are free from any alcohol or drug problems that may interfere with the quality of work. Apart from the job interview and background check, pre-employment drug testing is now included in the hiring process.

2. Random drug testing

Upon the discretion of employers, random drug screening may be conducted on workers who have been under strict performance evaluation. Results of the drug test may be used by the employer as basis for referring employees to drug treatment specialists.

Employers are allowed to carry out random testing on employees. However, singling out a particular employee may be discriminatory unless it is justified by the nature of the job.

Searches may also be done, but this should be stated in the policy signed by the employee. Searches should be carried out by the same sex only, and should take place in the presence of a witness.

3. Return-to-work drug testing

All employees found to be positive for drugs should undergo therapy and treatment. The employer may only allow the employee to go back to the job when a return-to-work drug test produces a negative result. Otherwise, the employee will be denied to report to work or may be terminated.

The Standard Process of Taking Sample for Drug Testing

In most cases, a urine drug test is performed to determine if an individual is using any illicit substances that may interfere with job performance. It is a quick, non-invasive type of drug testing that can help detect potential substance abuse.

Drug testing should be done in the presence of a Medical Review Officer (MRO), a licensed physician who is qualified to interpret and evaluate test results as well as provide medical information.

A basic urine drug test can detect 5 types of drugs, namely:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine

Specimen collection procedure for a urine drug test is as follows:

  • The area should be secure.
  • A specimen cup is given to the individual. It is important that the genital area should be cleaned with moist cloth.
  • Collect the midstream urine.
  • The collection of specimen must allow the individual to have privacy unless the particular person is believed to have the intention of cheating the drug test.
  • At least 45 milliliters of urine should be collected. If the employee fails to collect as much urine sample, he is advised to drink up to 24 ounces of fluid before sample extraction.
  • If the toilet is to be used as the place of collection, water supply should be temporarily cut-off to avoid tampering of the specimen.
  • A split sample of urine is collected. In the event that the result is positive, a confirmatory testing may be performed by the testing laboratory.
  • The chain of custody form must be completed and shipped with the specimen.

urine same day drug testing

Processing the Urine Sample

The first test is performed by an immunoassay test. This test should be able to determine and quantify the amount of drug present in the sample provided. There are cutoff levels from which the results are based, such as:

  • Amphetamines – 1000 ng/ml
  • Cannabis – 50 ng/ml
  • Cocaine – 300 ng/ml
  • Opiate metabolites – 300 ng/ml
  • Phencyclidine – 25 ng/ml

Drug testing administrators usually give the results in terms of positive or negative and not the numeric values. A confirmatory test is performed on all initial positive tests. Should the second test remain positive, the sample may be tested in a different certified laboratory to be sent within 72 hours.

Reporting and Review of Positive Results

The MRO carefully examines each confirmed positive result to determine if there are any medical reasons for the positive result. Some medications that an individual is taking may produce a positive result, and this information should be relayed to the MRO.

The MRO will discuss the findings with the employee, and will ask if the employee is taking any prescription drugs, over-the-counter-drugs or herbal medicine that could have affected the result. If it has been found out that some medications are taken by the employee, the MRO may report to the employer that the test is negative.

On the other hand, any positive result that confirms the use of illicit substances may be used by the employer as basis for refusal to hire.

workplace drug testing mining industry

Fair Reasons for Dismissal

Workplace drug testing is very significant in any workplace as it maintains a healthy and safe environment for employees while generating quality products and services to customers. However, not all employees may be complying with the company policy for a drug-free workplace.

Based on the provisions of a workplace drug testing policy, the employer has every right to dismiss any employee who is found to be:

  • Frequently missing work
  • Positive for drug or alcohol abuse
  • Engaged in theft and dishonesty
  • Performing poorly at work
  • Exhibiting behavior issues

workplace drug testing

Drug Testing

3 Reasons Why You Should Drug Test Your Teenager

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The use of illicit drug among teens has reached a point where it is no longer something to be taken lightly. Now more than ever, the decision to drug test your teenager has become extremely essential. In this article, we will look into the troubling scenario of teen drug use, and some reasons why you need to drug test your teenager.

A Look Into Teen Drug Use

A lot of lives have been taken away because of the rampant trading at the black market. Twenty years ago, most cases involving illegal drug use were among young adults. However, in recent years, teenagers have become the target of drug dealers and manufacturers.

Teens are naturally curious, and a lot of adolescents want to explore things while they’re young. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the vulnerabilities of the youth by selling them illegal drugs, which has become a major concern of families and the community in general.

Causes of Drug Addiction

Parents may not be aware that most of the children who get into drugs have problems at home. If these issues are not properly addressed, some kids seek refuge from fellow teens.

Unfortunately, not all of the people around them really care what their issues are. Instead of providing solutions to their problems, what these people would offer would be drugs or alcohol. This could be the spark for your kids to start engaging in drug addiction.

Other causes of drug addiction include boredom, curiosity, ignorance, rebellion, and a mere search for fun.

Why Should You Drug Test Your Teenager?

Before you drug test your teenager, help them understand that everything you do for them is because of your love as a parent. Use the blanket of care and concern to make your children secure as they agree to undergo drug testing.

friends drug test your teenager

Here are some of the important reasons why you need to drug test your teenager:

1. Behavioral changes

Notice any change in behavior of your son or daughter? Each child has his own personality that parents should be aware of. Any sudden change in behavior should concern a parent, but not to immediately imply that the child is into drugs.

Try to observe further and talk to your children to confirm if there is something that they want to talk about. If you strongly feel that they are taking drugs, then slowly introduce the idea of conducting a drug test to validate all the signs and symptoms of drug addiction.

2. Safety of your children

When your teenager readily submits to drug testing, it is easier for your teen to refuse anyone who would taunt him/her into taking drugs. Peer pressure has a strong influence over teenagers who want to feel that they belong to a group. To say “no” may result to getting ridiculed by peers.

Letting their friends know that your kids need to undergo drug testing will increase the likelihood that your teenage children will steer clear of illegal drugs.

3. Peace of mind (for you and your kids)

A court-mandated drug test may not always give the correct result, and will result to stigma for you and your children. To validate any positive result, a home drug test may be done to give you peace of mind. If the home drug testing produces a positive result, then immediate intervention should be done.

There are a lot of home drug test kits in the market that you can choose from. Some of these testing methods include shipping to the laboratory for ease in handling the sample. Meanwhile, some drug screening kits may be bought over the counter, and are priced significantly less than they used to be.

The Right Approach to Drug Test Your Teenager

Some parents are wondering why their kids are hooked on drugs despite their seemingly good image. The truth is that no matter how good the relationship between parents and their children are, some teenagers are still susceptible to being swayed into using illegal drugs.

Because of this alarming reality, many parents are undecided on whether to have their teenagers undergo drug testing or not. They fear that despite their good intentions, their teen children may see it differently, and imposing such testing may jeopardize their relationship. Some parents are afraid that their children may lose trust in them.

If you are a parent, carefully explain to your teenager the importance of having to go through drug testing. This will help ease your mind and to ensure that your teenager is safe from these illegal drugs.

The very first thing that you need to establish as a parent is to build a good relationship with your children. The way you raise them up will definitely have a strong impact on how they would behave when they grow up. Despite how busy you can be with so many things, you should always make time for your family, especially for your children.

Here are some more tips in preparing to drug test your teenager without letting him/her feel the pressure:

  • Your teenager should be willing to take the drug test. Forcing your teen to take any kind of drug test may ruin your good relationship and may lead to more serious situations.
  • Let your teens know about the dangerous implications of using illegal drugs. You must let your child understand how much it could affect everyone’s life if he chooses to take drugs.
  • Once your teen agrees to the drug testing, make sure that you properly record all the test results so that you can understand your teen’s behavior and drug use pattern.
  • If the test turns positive, it is important that you get him the help that he needs There are many rehabilitation centers that can help your child overcome his drug addiction.

teen skateboard drug testing

Teen Drug Use Statistics

It is surprising how times have changed the way these teenagers value their lives. A lot of them seem to be more fearless in doing stuff, and are more focused on spending time with friends rather than getting serious with their studies.

Drugs and alcohol have penetrated the lives of these children at such an early age. Unfortunately, we could not blame them for getting hooked on illegal substances because they are exposed to these drugs every day – from their own parents, from their favorite actors and artists, and from the glorification of drugs on social media. Too much exposure to drugs will entice these kids to try and later on get hooked on them.

Here are some of the recent findings related to drug use by teenagers:

  • Statistics showed that there are more teens dying from prescription drugs than cocaine or heroin.
  • About 60 percent of high school seniors don’t think that regular marijuana use is harmful.
  • More than 35 percent of 12th graders have used marijuana in the past year.
  • About 6 percent of 12th graders are regular marijuana users.
  • 12th graders who are using marijuana are 65 percent more likely to crash their vehicles.
  • Some of the drugs taken by 12th graders include amphetamine, opioid painkillers, synthetic marijuana, tranquilizers, cough medicine, hallucinogens, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, sedatives and inhalants.

Drug Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Are you anxious to know if your teenager is involved with using illegal drugs? Remember that forcing your child to undergo drug testing would strain your relationship with them.

It is probably best to know the signs and symptoms of drug addiction, rather than have your child undergo drug testing based merely on suspicion. Here are some of the telltale signs of teen drug addiction:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Abrupt weight changes
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Bruises or infections (which may have been caused by an injectable drug)
  • Depression
  • Change in behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Poor decision making
  • Agitated
  • Almost always sleeping or widely awake
  • Hallucinations

What Should You Do If Your Teen Tests Positive?

Any wrong decision that a child makes may be a reflection of how his life is, and this can be a great burden on the parents. If you happen to find out that your child is positive for drug use, varying levels of emotion would probably be racing inside you – fear, anger and worry, at the very least.

The relationship between parent and child can be a major factor for young kids to get hooked on illegal substances. This is the reason why parents are encouraged to spend quality time with the whole family so that they would know what is going on with the lives of their children.

prescription drugs teen use

Here are some steps to do, in case you find out that your teenager is taking drugs:

1. Never create an aggressive environment.

Instead of helping your child speak up about what caused him to use drugs, aggression would lead him/her to become more distant. This may actually worsen the drug addiction situation.

Talk to your child in a non-confrontational manner. You need to let him/her know that you are concerned about his/her health and well-being.

Never show your child your anger because it could heighten his emotions that could make him more distant. Try to win back his trust.

2. Always let your child feel that you love them no matter what.

You may be mad at the drug use, but make it clear that you are not angry with your child. Insist on having a heart-to-heart talk so that your child will feel that you are giving importance to him/her.

A teen’s life is a very complicated stage wherein they are asked to think and behave older despite their young age. This can be confusing to them. This is the reason why families should always take time to be together.

3. Ask your child what is bothering him that led him to drugs.

Before you go all out and drug test your teenager, listen intently and provide potential solutions to the problem, if the need arises. Then, let him understand that despite what he is going through, the family remains to be by his side.

4. Gently remind him about the dangers of drug use.

Let your child know the consequence of using drugs and how it can affect his life. Part of the healing process is for your teenager to undergo rehabilitation, which he/she should understand. Explain how long it would take to completely recover. With his/her cooperation, the treatment can be shorter.

5. Introduce the idea of follow-up drug testing.

Let your child know that he/she would still need to undergo random drug testing after the treatment. This will ensure that he/she has completely turned away from drugs. Follow-up drug testing is important to help your teenager get back to his normal life by strongly refusing to get back on the old habit and to lead a life that any normal teenager should have.

Final Word

When you decide to drug test your teenager, reassure him/her of emotional security and the love of family.

Drug Testing

Hair Follicle Drug Testing Myths Debunked!

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Most employers would consider implementing pre-employment drug testing to ensure that job applicants will be able to work the way they are expected to, and to refuse applicants who are found to be using illicit drugs. In the midst of conducting drug tests across several industries, there are a lot of misconceptions and false truths that destroy the integrity of drug testing. In this article, we will shed light into some of the most common hair follicle drug testing myths.

The Push For Drug Testing

Despite debates on implementing workplace drug policies, companies continue to push for drug testing in the workplace to ensure high productivity and overall workforce safety. In fact, industries involved with transportation, aviation and mining consider drug testing as a primary requirement.

At its most fundamental core, drug testing is done to maintain a healthy and safe workplace.  It does not only provide a safe place for employees, but it can also save the company from loss of revenue due to low productivity and high insurance claims.

Urine Drug Test: The Most Common Method

urine same day drug testing

The most common type of drug testing done is urine drug test, mainly because it is less expensive. This kind of test has become so common that many individuals try to look for ways to cheat the drug test. The good thing about this is that drug testing companies are now more vigilant when it comes to drug test cheating attempts or sample adulteration.

Because of the possibility that a urine drug test can be contaminated and may end up producing a false result, some employers require additional drug testing with the use of the hair drug test.

What is a Hair Drug Test?

Hair drug test is a type of test that analyzes hair samples to identify the presence of drugs and their metabolites. For testing purposes, at least 1.5 inches of hair sample close to the scalp is taken from an individual’s body and is sent to a drug screening laboratory for screening.

Hair drug testing is considered to be more accurate compared to urine drug test, because the detection period can last up to 90 days. In comparison, an individual may stop using drugs for 1-2 days and would come out clean after a urine drug test.

hair sample drug testing myths

How Does a Hair Drug Test Detect Presence of Drugs in the Body?

As soon as a substance is ingested (orally, snorted, smoked or injected), metabolites are produced by the drug and processed by the body. These drug metabolites circulate in the blood stream, nourish the hair follicle, and then become deeply seated into each strand.

Hair Follicle Drug Testing Myths and Truths

A lot of drug testing myths on hair samples have been circulating online, and the wrong information may mislead people. Here are some of the most common hair follicle drug testing myths, and the truth behind each one:

Myth #1: Hair drug testing can detect the presence of all drugs.

One of the most popular drug testing myths is that hair drug test can detect all types of drugs. The only difference with other drug testing methods is the cost and method of sample extraction.


A standard hair drug test has the ability to detect the presence of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, opiates, PCP, and some prescription drugs. Meanwhile, a few special products like HairConfirm 12 Panel can also detect ecstasy, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and hydromorphone.

Despite this, hair drug testing – much like any other drug testing method – cannot cover every single substance in the market these days. This is due to the continuing development of illegal drug labs to come up with unique kinds of designer drugs and synthetic substances.

Myth #2: Hair drug testing is not accurate.

Some people would say that hair drug test could not possible provide valid results because there are factors that can affect the result of an individual’s test such as frequent exposure to secondhand smoke from other substance abusers.


Hair follicle drug testing is impossible to cheat because any drug taken by an individual is more likely to remain in the hair follicles for 90 days. Besides, positive results are crosschecked through a confirmatory test.

Myth #3: Individuals who don’t cut their hair for a year but have stopped taking any drug would still be tested positive.

Some people believe that the presence of drugs on the hair remains even beyond the 90-day detection period. As a result, it may be hard to prove that the individual has really stopped taking drugs.


Human hair grows an average of half an inch every month. Drug metabolites in hair follicles may still be found on the end of each strand, assuming that the hair has not been cut.

However, the standard procedure for the test is to take 1.5 inches of hair sample near the scalp, while the rest of the strand is discarded. Therefore, if the individual has long stopped taking drugs, the new growth of hair would no longer show any presence of drugs.

Myth #4: Individuals with shaved heads cannot undergo hair follicle drug testing.

A lot of people believe that hair samples to be used for drug testing should only come from the head. Therefore, people who are either bald or have their heads shaved cannot undergo a hair drug testing.


This is one of the most common drug testing myths, but it’s easy to disprove. Even if the individual is bald, hair samples from his legs, arms, or armpits can be used for hair drug testing. Only individuals who don’t have any hair at all – say, someone diagnosed with alopecia universalis – could pass up this kind of drug test.

Myth #5: Hair follicle drug testing is required before and during the course of employment.

Part of the anti-drug campaign in any workplace is a need to submit to a drug test, which includes urine drug test and hair follicle drug test.


Pre-employment drug tests laws vary from each state. In California, for example, employers may request drug screening on current employees whom the company may observe to have inconsistencies in terms of job performance. This may also be required for people involved in accidents or injuries in the workplace.

However, workplace drug testing is not conducted without considering other factors. If an employer decides to implement pre-employment drug testing, the procedure should be applicable to all applicants and not to specific individuals.

Myth #6: You may wash your hair with a special shampoo to wash away traces of any drugs.

Some drug users vouch on the idea that traces of drugs may be easily washed off the hair by using a special type of shampoo. After using the hair product, recent drug use will not be detected. In addition, bleaching is also said to help mask out the presence of drugs.


While it is true that any drug adhering to the surface of hair strands can be washed off, drug metabolites that penetrate deep into the core of each strand will be impossible to remove. Hair follicle drug tests determine the presence of drug compounds inside each hair strand, and do not test the surface of the each strand.

What are the advantages of hair follicle drug test?

drug testing myths hair follicles blonde

Although this method of drug testing is more expensive than urine drug tests, people should consider recommending this type of drug test over other tests because of the following benefits:

High accuracy

The presence of drugs can be detected by hair drug tests up to 90 days from last substance use. It is recommended to use 1.5 inches of hair sample cut close to the scalp, in order to easily detect current drug use.

Difficulty in cheating

Unlike using urine drug test wherein drug users may be able to temporarily stop taking drugs in 1-2 days to produce a false negative result, hair drug testing is much more difficult to cheat.

Hair drug tests cannot be cheated by using bleaching solutions or shampoos. This kind of drug screening method checks the core of the hair strand where drug metabolites could possibly adhere for a longer period of time. In comparison, urine drug tests may be tampered by making use of masking agents to cheat on the test.

Fast results

Negative results are released within 24 hours. Any positive result undergoes confirmatory in which the results are released within an additional 24-72 hours.

Simplified collection process

It is a convenient and non-invasive method of drug testing, and can be conducted anytime and anywhere.

Less risk of sample spoilage or adulteration

Hair samples are easier to transport without worries of being contaminated due to factors such as temperature and mishandling.

Eligible in court

Hair testing can be used as evidence in court proceedings. All hair follicle drug tests include a comprehensive report.

The Importance of Disproving Drug Testing Myths

More people are starting to understand the real importance of drug testing, but some individuals are still hesitant due to possible infringement of privacy. This – along with other drug testing myths – has led some people to be skeptical about the need for drug tests.

However, if the drug testing procedure is carefully discussed, people will realize that it is not going to be used as a means for discrimination. Rather, drug testing is a way of keeping the community safe.

Drug testing is performed for pre-employment purposes, for confirmation of suspected drug use by current employees, for return-to-duty requirements, and for follow-up after rehabilitation. Imagine how much safe and secure the workplace can become, if the company decides to embark on a drug testing program.

Companies are required to provide an Employment Assistance Program to help employees who have been found to be positive. The program refers the individuals to rehabilitation centers in order to help them completely stay away from illicit drug use.

Hair Drug Testing Kits

Hair follicle drug testing is a trusted method of drug testing. Fortunately, there are a lot of drug testing kits available to choose from in the market. However, not all drug test kits are made by legitimate manufacturers. It is advisable to purchase hair drug testing kits from reputable companies with years of expertise and experience to back up their product line.

HairConfirm is an ideal testing solution for individuals who want fast and accurate results. This drug testing kit is convenient to use and cheat-proof. Results are available in 24-48 hours, and may be viewed securely online.

Here are some of the reasons why HairConfirm can bust any drug testing myths:

  • Personal information is not required, which makes the test totally anonymous. It makes use of a unique specimen number and pass code for proper identification.
  • The testing facility makes use of the latest drug screening technology.
  • It is easy to use and convenient. It comes with instructions on how to take the hair sample. Mailing is easier as it comes with a pre-paid package.
  • The testing laboratory provides a comprehensive report on a positive result test.

Helpful Links and Resources

hair follicle drug testing myths

Drug Testing Real Drug Stories

Five Biggest Stories in TestCountry Blog for 2016

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Hello 2017! As we welcome the New Year, let us review the biggest and most viewed articles of 2016 in the TestCountry blog.

5. What is Clonazolam and Why Is It Dangerous?

Designer drugs have become popular in recent years, and that’s why a lot of people are looking for information about some of these drugs. One of the trending articles this year was our feature on clonazolam, a fast-acting benzodiazepine with a high potential for addiction and tolerance.

4. Kratom Ban Expanding In More U.S. States

As kratom emerges as one of the most popular topics of 2016, our article on the kratom sent online readers scrambling for more information about the kratom ban, which is increasingly expanding in more states. Although the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has not placed kratom under Schedule I, many U.S. states have pursued a ban on the use of this controversial substance.

3. All You Need To Know About U-47700

This drug has probably risen in popularity after the death of legendary music icon Prince was linked to his use of a cocktail of drugs that included U-47700. Our article about U-47700 discussed everything that you need to know about the substance.

2. Kratom Ban Lifted By DEA

Whether you are a supporter or part of the opposition, you cannot deny the fact that news on kratom ban have become very popular this year. This feature on DEA’s decision to dismiss an earlier move to categorize kratom as a Schedule I drug became one of our most read articles this year.

1. All You Need to Know About Urine Drug Testing Cheating

Whatever the motive behind the boost in readership for this particular blog post — whether to become more informed or to learn how to cheat drug tests — this article on drug test cheating became our biggest story of the year.


We hope you learned so much from our articles in 2016. Rest assured, the TC blog will provide a lot more information about drug testing and trending topics on drugs.

Drug Testing

FAQ on CPT Drug Testing Codes G0477-G0483

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urine test same day drug testing

There has been confusion among Medicare payers and laboratories with regards to the proper billing of drug tests. With the release of the new HSCPC “G” codes, some other tests that healthcare payers have taken were told to be not covered under these codes.

In this article, we will share answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the CPT drug testing codes:

What is the difference between the CPT codes and HCPCS codes?

CPT stands for Current Procedural Terminology and is administered by the AMA (American Medical Association). Meanwhile, HCPCS stands for Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System and is a standardized coding system for the description of specific services and items.

HCPCS codes having three levels, Level I, Level II and Level III. All CPT codes are HCPCS codes but are only found on Level I HCPCS.

When and how was HCPCS established?

HCPCS was established in 1978 which was based on AMA’s CPT processes. With the implementation of HIPAA in 1996, facilities started using HCPCS for transaction codes.

What are the HCPCS Levels?

Although HCPCS has its own guidelines, it works hand in hand with CPT codes. The different levels are as follows:

  • Level I codes consist of the AMA’s CPT codes and is numeric.
  • Level II codes indicate the HCPCS alphanumeric code set, and primarily include non-physician products, procedures, and supplies outside the scope of CPT.
  • Level III codes, also called HCPCS local codes, were developed by state Medicaid agencies, Medicare contractors, and private insurance companies for the purpose of specific programs and scope. These items may be found in the HCPCS reference coding book. Some coders are required to indicate Level III codes ont opt of code sets for Levels I and II, but these codes are not accepted in all states.

What are the non-physician services covered under HCSPC codes?

HCSPC Level II codes are used for billing and identifying items and services such as:

  • Ambulance services
  • Prosthetic devices
  • Drugs, infusion additives, and ancillary surgical supplies
  • Non-physician services not covered by CPT codes (Level I codes)

How would you determine which code to use along with your health plans?

Different health insurance companies may use different kinds of codes. It is best to know which codes your health insurance company uses by knowing the following:

  • When the CPT and a HCPCS Level II code for a specific service or procedure have pretty much the same narratives, using the CPT code is recommended. Otherwise, the HCPCS Level II code should be used instead.
  • Check for a HCPCS national code when a CPT code description contains an instruction to include additional information, such as describing a specific medication.

What are the newly released “G” Codes?

The following codes are the newly released “G” codes that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) currently recognize:

HCSPS code G0477

A presumptive drug test used in any number of drug classes, any number of devices or procedures capable of being read by direct optical observation only (such as dipsticks, cups, cards, and cartridges) that includes sample validation when performed per date of service.

HCPCS code G0478

A presumptive drug test used in any number of drug classes, any number of devices or procedures read by instrument-assisted direct optical observation such as dipsticks, cups, card and cartridges that includes sample validation when performed per date of service.

HCPCS code G0479

A presumptive drug test used in any number of drug classes, any number of devices or procedures by instrumented chemistry analyzers (utilizing immunoassay, enzyme assay, TOF, MALDI, LDTD, DESI, DART, DHPC, and GC mass spectrometry) that include sample validation when performed per date of service.

HCPCS code G0480

A drug test definitive that uses any of the following:

  • Drug identification methods able to identify individual drugs and distinguish between structural isomers (but not necessarily sterioisomers), including, but not limited to:
    • GC/MS: any type, single or tandem)
    • LC/MS: any type, single or tandem and excluding immunoassays (IA, EIA, ELISA, EMIT, FPIA)
    • Enzymatic methods: such as alcohol dehydrogenase
  • Stable isotope or other universally recognized internal standards in all samples, such as to control for matrix effects, interferences and variations in signal strength
  • Method or drug-specific calibration and matrix-matched quality control material, such as to control for instrument variations and mass spectral drift; qualitative or quantitative, all sources, includes specimen validity testing, per day, 1-7 drug class(es), including metabolite(s) if performed. [source]

HCPCS code G0481

A drug test definitive that uses any of the following:

  • Drug identification methods able to identify individual drugs and distinguish between structural isomers (but not necessarily sterioisomers), including, but not limited to:
    • GC/MS: any type, single or tandem)
    • LC/MS: any type, single or tandem and excluding immunoassays (IA, EIA, ELISA, EMIT, FPIA)
    • Enzymatic methods: such as alcohol dehydrogenase
  • Stable isotope or other universally recognized internal standards in all samples, such as to control for matrix effects, interferences and variations in signal strength
  • Method or drug-specific calibration and matrix-matched quality control material, such as to control for instrument variations and mass spectral drift, qualitative or quantitative, all sources, includes specimen validity testing, per day, 8-14 drug class(es), including metabolite(s) if performed.

HCPCS code G0482

A drug test definitive that uses any of the following:

  • Drug identification methods able to identify individual drugs and distinguish between structural isomers (but not necessarily sterioisomers), including, but not limited to:
    • GC/MS: any type, single or tandem)
    • LC/MS: any type, single or tandem and excluding immunoassays (IA, EIA, ELISA, EMIT, FPIA)
    • Enzymatic methods: such as alcohol dehydrogenase
  • Stable isotope or other universally recognized internal standards in all samples, such as to control for matrix effects, interferences and variations in signal strength
  • Method or drug-specific calibration and matrix-matched quality control material, such as to control for instrument variations and mass spectral drift, qualitative or quantitative, all sources, includes specimen validity testing, per day, 15-21 drug class(es), including metabolite(s) if performed.

HCPCS code G0483

  • Drug identification methods able to identify individual drugs and distinguish between structural isomers (but not necessarily sterioisomers), including, but not limited to:
    • GC/MS: any type, single or tandem)
    • LC/MS: any type, single or tandem and excluding immunoassays (IA, EIA, ELISA, EMIT, FPIA)
    • Enzymatic methods: such as alcohol dehydrogenase
  • Stable isotope or other universally recognized internal standards in all samples, such as to control for matrix effects, interferences and variations in signal strength
  • Method or drug-specific calibration and matrix-matched quality control material, such as to control for instrument variations and mass spectral drift, qualitative or quantitative, all sources, includes specimen validity testing, per day, 22 or more drug class(es), including metabolite(s) if performed.

What are the limitations of these drug tests?

Only one presumptive/definitive test may be billed to a patient per DOS. This means that subsequent tests will be denied.

What problems did Medicare payers and laboratories experienced after the release of the new “G” codes?

The release of the “G” codes created confusion in properly coding for the right test as well as proper billing of the tests provided.

What could be the effect of not being aware of using the right codes for billing?

It will have a negative impact on the revenues of the laboratories as well as the insurance payers paying incorrectly or insurance companies denying them for incorrect reasons.

Helpful Links and Resources


Drug Testing

Can Bleaching Remove Drug Metabolites From Hair Samples?

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Are you scheduled for a hair follicle drug test? And is this one of your pre-employment requirements?

A hair screen is a drug examination wherein it uses a sample of hair to check and identify if a person being tested has used a specific drug. The hair follicle drug test measures specific metabolites and drug molecules produced after the human body processes a particular drug.

One of the myths circulating hair follicle drug tests is that you can pass by bleaching your hair. The truth is that whenever you consume drugs whether by smoking, injecting, or ingesting, the drug stays and metabolizes within the body. Bleaching the hair may be able to remove drug compounds in hair follicles by up to 80 percent. Moreover, they can even remove all traces of drugs found in a hair strand when multiple bleaching attempts are made.

Hair bleaching can remove the traces of drug metabolites because it cracks and damages the strands that can cause percolating of metabolites out of the hair follicles, thereby removing any evidence of drug use.

However, this is still not a guaranteed method in passing or cheating a drug test because the removal isn’t totally complete. Although the possibility of drug detection via hair screen decreases with the number of times the hair is bleached, the drug testing company may use another alternative in detecting drugs and that is through fingernail testing. Fingernail testing is extremely accurate, although it can’t provide month-by-month overview.

In short, there’s no absolute way to cheat on drug screening given that drug testing technology is now becoming more and more accurate in detecting drug use.

[Image by amber via Flickr Creative Commons]


Drug Testing

Popular Cases of Cheating in Drug Tests

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The number of drug users has soared for the past years. It is no secret how many famous personalities were caught using these drugs and how some of them found several means of cheating their way through drug tests. With the help of online resources, more people have resorted to ways on how they could get themselves out of the hole.

The spotlight is often cast on celebrities and athletes when it comes to drug issues. The world has witnessed how some famous personalities have been exposed for their addiction on certain drugs. In fact, some have been busted for trying to alter their drug tests by doing questionable methods. Here are some of them:

Mike Tyson

He admitted using a fake penis to excrete fake urine to be able to pass his drug test and be able to proceed with a fight.

Alex Rodriguez

Popular Major League baseball player A-Rod took a mid-stream urine sample based on the assumption that drug metabolites are present at the start and end stream of urine excretion only.

Young Buck

This G-unit rapper was caught sneaking a yellow substance into his urine specimen but was eventually identified as being positive for marijuana. He initially claimed that he was not a user of marijuana but was just a “victim” of famous rap artist Snoop Dogg’s marijuana use.

Lance Armstrong

The world renowned cyclist ended his career in 2012 when he got busted for using, trafficking and administering erythropoietin (EPO), testosterone, and blood transfusions. He admitted that he has done these so many times during his career, leading him to winning several races.

While Armstrong was not busted at any time during drug tests, some of his fellow athletes broke their silence. News of his drug test cheating methods has reached the authorities, who conducted a drug test and found the champion cyclist to be positive for EPO.

Other athletes get away from these drug tests because they just use them in “micro-doses” a night before the race. Unfortunately, some have even asked the help of other physicians to help them with the administration of certain drugs. This has caused revocation of the medical licenses of the physicians found guilty in helping these athletes.

Tom Sizemore

The actor was caused cheating on his drug test by using a prosthetic device to falsify his urine sample. He was charged with the possession of methamphetamine.

John Anzrah

The Kenyan Coach was sent home after authorities in the recently concluded Rio Olympics found out that he was trying to pose himself as an athlete and gave sample urine to hide the doping activity of one of his athletes. He was immediately sent back to Kenya after authorities confirmed that his face does not match the photo of the athlete to be tested.

Russian Athletes at Rio Olympics

A group of Russian athletes have been found to be using performance-enhancing drugs to win themselves a gold medal. However, it has been discovered how rampant it was among their athletes. In fact, one female athlete for the track and field category accidentally leaked her adulterated urine sample onto the floor. She was trying to provide a urine sample through a device that was hidden under her clothes.

Apparently, some of these Russian athletes have their unusual way of evading drug tests. Some of them just disappear in the middle of the race or go missing among the crowd in such a way that the drug testing staff won’t be able to get to them.

There was also one incident wherein two athletes were found to be missing their drug tests. When they learned that their cheating ways have been discovered, they filed for retirement.

How People (Attempt To) Cheat on Drug Tests

The desperation of some drug users have led them to consider cheating their way through drug tests. Here are some of the most popular and infamous drug test cheating methods:

Dilution of urine

One common way of cheating a drug test is by taking in large amounts of water at least 4 to 6 hours prior to submission of the sample. In doing so, the individual is forced to urinate and by doing so, whatever chemical may be in his system will somehow be flushed out.

There is only a specific range of drug presence in the urine that can determine if the individual is indeed positive with a drug. Other individuals, however directly put water with the urine to dilute the sample. Unfortunately, this is easily detected by laboratories because now, they add a dye to their toilets and their faucets are turned off.

Sample Substitution

Some individuals would submit urine samples from another individual who is 100 percent free from any drug substance.

Surprisingly, there are concentrated urine products in powdered form, which can be bought online. Adding water to it would produce urine. However, this could be easily detected if the urine sample does not maintain the specific temperature. Too warm or too cold would mean demanding for another urine sample to be taken.

Adding a chemical

There are certain chemicals that can alter the chemical composition of the urine. This, however, is easily detected. Any urine sample that is found to have chemicals that aim to disrupt the testing process is tagged as an “adulterated sample”.

Vinegar overload

Drinking vinegar may alter the ph level of the urine and may “mask” the presence of any drug. However, with testing, vinegar is easily detected.


Performance-enhancing drugs are being injected by athletes through their tattoos. By doing this, only a small amount of the drug is enough to provide the needed strength or endurance that an athlete may need.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

This is used to boost performance of energy-inducing drugs.  By using HGH with regular low dose of blood-boosting hormone EPO, the presence of this drug may be difficult to detect, as some users would vouch.

Exemptions from Drug Testing

Some athletes who were found to be positive with some disorders like attention-deficit disorder are prescribed with Adderall or Ritalin. These drugs are highly addictive. Howver, athletes who abuse these drugs make an excuse not to undergo drug testing because they say that their use of the said drugs would affect results.

Gene Doping

This involves altering the normal DNA structure of the human body.  A gene, after it has been isolated, is injected with a “virus” (the deadly components taken out) to produce superhuman strength. This is introduced back into the body and generally improves overall performance of an athlete.

Blood Doping

There are two techniques of blood doping:


The blood of an athlete who has injected EPO is extracted, stored in a blood bank, and injected back to the athlete at a later date.


This is when the blood coming from another donor has been transfused to the athlete. The purpose is to dilute the concentration to evade detection but the effect of the drug will not alter the athlete’s performance.


Using diuretics have been used to evade detection of any presence of drugs. Frequent urination will flush out traces of drugs from the system, but this strategy isn’t fool-proof.

Using Testosterone-Based Ointments

When an individual takes on drugs, the testosterone levels greatly drops, which can sometimes lead to a “0” reading. However, with the use of this kind of ointment, it retains the normal level of testosterone in the body.


It has been found out that the presence of benzolkonium chloride in a urine sample can mask the presence of THC metabolite in drug analysis, but this hasn’t been confirmed to be effective.

Drug-Evading Kits

Whizzinator is a kit that has been marketed all over to fraudulently evade detection of presence of drugs during a drug test. This is made up of a syringe, heater pack, dried urine and a penis-shaped appendage to attempt to dispense fake urine into a drug testing cup.

Drug Tests To Prevent Cheating

Urine or blood tests may have been the most common means to detect presence of drugs in an individual. However, there have also been several strategies in trying to evade a positive result. To combat any attempts of drug test cheating, some drug tests have been developed to determine the presence of these substances with little to almost no possibility of being tampered and adulterated.

Because the urine drug test is probably the most adulterated and tampered method of all, some companies and testing firms use other kinds of drug tests. Saliva or oral tests, for instance, are much more difficult to cheat because the drug testing staff will extract the sample themselves. This is done by swabbing a piece of cotton onto a person’s inner cheek.


It really comes as no surprise as to why celebrities and athletes would involve themselves into drug use. After all, fame can be so overwhelming that they wouldn’t want to lose their sparkle or downgrade their performance.

Drug abuse in some celebrities start as early as childhood, when they take drug cocktails to remain awake and alert for shoots. As a result, a lot of child stars who are now in their teens or adult life have gotten themselves hooked on drugs because society dictates that they should remain active with what they do.

Sadly, the same thing also happens to athletes. The thought of bringing home a medal or trophy is something that every athlete would dream about. Unfortunately, they try to make use of these drugs to help them push beyond their limits.

Drug users will always find a way to manipulate the results of drug tests so that they can continue to use them for longer periods of time. However, knowing that drug abuse may also lead to a downfall of society at large, there should be a need to prevent individuals from getting away from it. As technology progresses, more drug tests are now becoming fool-proof to ensure that the prevalence of drug addiction may be completely eradicated from the society in the coming years.


Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Heroin Abuse Truths, Detection, and Treatment

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Heroin addiction has become a serious epidemic in the United States. The report entitled “Results from the 2014 National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health” prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services (SAMHSA) showed that for that year, about 586,000 people of ages 12 or older  who were living in the country had a heroin use disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported similar findings and pointed out that between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths had quadrupled. In 2013 alone, more than 8,200 people died from heroin overdose.

Following the warnings issued by the CDC, the White House called for intensified efforts to address the growing crisis and to prevent further escalation of the heroin abuse problem.

Heroin Use and Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive substance that is synthesized from morphine. The latter is derived from the opium that naturally occurs in an Asian poppy plant. After being chemically processed, heroin is sold in white or brown powder form. It can also take the form of a black sticky substance (black tar heroin). Black tar heroin, however, is tainted with other substances such as coffee, burned cornstarch, or dextrose.

The drug may be smoked, snorted, or injected directly into the veins. When used intravenously, it is two to four times more potent than morphine.

Heroin may be introduced intravenously via injection.

Heroin may be introduced intravenously via injection.

Regardless of the manner of ingestion, the substance enters the brain rapidly where it is quickly converted back to morphine. It then binds itself to the opioid receptors, the cells in the brain which are associated with perceptions of pain and reward. The effects are similar to those caused by prescriptive opioid analgesics.

When administered intravenously, users immediately experience a “rush” or an elevated sense of pleasure and euphoria that can occur within a few seconds from the use. This is followed by a feeling of calmness and the users would shift between states of drowsiness and wakefulness.  Heroin is used and abused for the “rush” or pleasurable feelings that the drug elicits.

Immediate Effects of Heroin

Aside from experiencing euphoria, followed by a sense of general well-being and calmness, users have also reported negative effects. These include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, flushed skin, and clouded mental abilities. Soon after, the users are likely to experience a different set of symptoms. The “delayed” symptoms include drowsiness, slowed breathing, slowed heart rate, heaviness of the extremities, and uncontrollable itching of the skin.

Heroin overdose can cause a suppression of breathing that affects the delivery of oxygen to the brain. It can also cause respiratory depression. Both effects are fatal and can lead to coma, permanent brain damage, and death.

Long-Term Consequences

Various studies have been conducted to determine the long-term effects of heroin use disorder. Among the effects that have been established are the following:

Health consequences

Heroin abuse has been linked to a number of serious health risks and medical complications. These include bronchial and lung infections such as pneumonia, liver diseases such as hepatitis, kidney diseases, heart diseases, collapsed veins, skin abscesses and infections, arthritis, seizures, constipation, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Sharing of needles among fellow drug users also tremendously increases the chances of contracting HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne viruses.

Pregnant women are at risk of miscarriage and premature birth. They also place the unborn child at risk of low birth weight and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS is a condition where a child is born with drug dependence and exhibits withdrawal symptoms.

Among non-pregnant women, heroin abuse can cause hormonal imbalance and inconsistent menstrual cycles.

In addition, those who consume street heroin are at a high risk of overdose and death because these variants may be mixed with other addictive and toxic substances.

Tolerance and addiction

Chronic use of heroin can lead to tolerance and a user will need to use higher amounts of the substance in order to achieve the same results. Over time, he will develop a physiological dependence on heroin which is manifested by an uncontrollable compulsion to consume the drug despite knowledge of its harmful effects. This compulsive behavioral pattern is called substance use disorder, abuse, or addiction.

As with other cases of substance use disorder, the abuser will experience several withdrawal symptoms whenever he tries to quit using the drug. These symptoms include restlessness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, body malaise, cold sweats, chills, involuntary spasms, muscle and bone pain, fever, and intense drug cravings. These can manifest anywhere between 6 to 24 hours from discontinuation of drug use.

Heroin is extremely addictive and regardless of the chosen route of administration, a user has a high probability of developing tolerance and dependence. Once addicted to the substance, an abuser’s solitary objective is to use the drug.

Behavioral and social changes

Heroin addiction substantially affects a person’s behavior and character. As an abuser’s life revolves around drug use, drug acquisition, and recovery from use, his daily routines and concerns are significantly altered.

Addicts may begin to display sudden changes in behavior such as lying, stealing, underperformance in school or work, loss of motivation, loss of self-esteem, lack of concern for personal appearance and hygiene, lack of interest in hobbies and social activities, disassociation from friends and family members, and hostile behavior.

These changes will give rise to more serious problems that are likely to upset his family and home life, interpersonal relationships, employment, social standing, and financial stability or status.

Effects on the brain

Some research studies have shown that repeated use of heroin alters both the physical structure and function of the brain. These changes can lead to long-term neuronal and hormonal imbalances that are difficult to reverse.

Heroin use disorder also causes a corrosion of the brain’s white matter. This affects the person’s ability to make decisions, analyze and solve problems, control behavior, and cope with stressful situations and environments.

Heroin abuse affects a person's brain, health, and psyche.

Heroin abuse affects a person’s brain, health, and psyche.

Detection and Diagnosis

Knowing the initial signs and symptoms of heroin use and addiction can help a person detect if a family member, friend, or co-worker is abusing the drug. Tell-tale physical indicators include flushed skin, vomiting, sweating, and shallow breathing.

The behavioral changes that indicate drug abuse include impaired reasoning and judgment, changes in mood, aggression, irritability, depression, neglect of appearance, underperformance in work or school, financial problems, frequent lying, and criminal tendencies.

Heroin addicts also use a number of paraphernalia such as syringes, hypodermic needles, spoons, cotton or q-tips, cigarette filters, lighters, aluminum foil, glass or metal pipes, and rubber balloons where they sometimes store heroin. Finding these in their possession or hidden in their drawers or medical cabinets strongly suggest that they are abusing heroin.

The drug is retained in the body and may be detected via drug test within 24 to 48 hours from last use. A urine test is the most common method for determining whether a person has recently smoked or ingested an opioid. A hair opiate test may detect heroin for up to 90 days from the last use.

What’s great about recent developments in the field of heroin drug testing is that home-based test kits are now available in the market. Some of these products include IDenta Confirm Heroin Substance Detector and iCassette Premium Complete OPI2000 Urine Drug Test Kit.

Aside from these standard drug tests, a person suspected of heroin use must also be evaluated by a physician or drug counselor to confirm whether or not he suffers from heroin use disorder.

Treatment Options

Treatment options are available for heroin abuse including behavioral and pharmacological approaches. Either treatment method may be resorted to in order to re-establish a person’s normal brain functions. For most abusers, however, a combination of both approaches is necessary to achieve effective results.

Below is a brief discussion of these therapies:

Pharmacological treatment

Research investigations have established that the use of medications in the treatment of opioid and heroin addiction effectively manages withdrawal symptoms, promotes abstinence and supports retention of learning gained from behavioral therapies.

During the detoxification phase or the period during which the body eliminates the effects of the drug, a patient experiences withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be managed or relieved by the administration of certain medications. Some of the medicines that have been clinically proven to be effectual are the following:

  1. Methadone

Methadone is a slow-acting opioid agonist that has been used to treat heroin addiction since the 1960s. It is designed to deliver the same effects of an opioid but at lower doses to control drug cravings until the patient can successfully wean off the substance.

  1. Buprenorphine

This drug also suppresses drug cravings but unlike other opioids, it averts harmful side effects. Like Methadone, it is also administered orally and as such, prevents the “rush” or “high” that is produced by heroin or other opioid drugs.

  1. Naltrexone

Naltrexone works by blocking the opioid receptors and preventing the drug from taking an effect on the patient. It is non-addictive. Recently, the FDA approved a long-acting formulation in an injectable form called Vivitrol which is administered once a month.

  1. Naloxone

As with Naltrexone, Naloxone also blocks the effects of opioids. It is used as an emergency treatment to reverse the effects of heroin overdose. It is available in injectable and nasal spray forms.

Behavioral therapies

Following detoxification and withdrawal, a patient must undergo behavioral therapies that involve counseling sessions delivered individually or in group sessions. These forms of counseling are available in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Therapists utilize a number of psychotherapy approaches to help the patients develop coping mechanisms, self-control, and new life skills, among others. The goals of behavioral therapies include strengthening the patient’s motivation and commitment to treatment, helping him sustain abstinence, and rebuilding his self-esteem to enable him to regain a normal and productive life.

The various techniques include contingency management, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivation enhancement therapy, 12-step facilitation therapy, and family counseling.

In addition to group support programs, specialized treatment facility centers also offer various outdoor, sports, and recreational activities to help patients utilize exercise as a stress-coping technique.

Other forms of therapies include journalizing, art, drama, music, yoga, and meditation.

Heroin addicts need the help of their loved ones during recovery.

Heroin addicts need the help of their loved ones during recovery.

The Bottom Line

It is possible to recover from heroin abuse and to regain a normal life. However, in order to find the light at the end of the tunnel, an addict must first confront the problem head on and seek professional help. Sadly, most users are unaware of their deteriorating conditions and the inception of their treatment often lies in the hands of their family members, friends, and loved ones who must initiate intervention mechanisms.

As government agencies, state authorities, and private sectors contribute various efforts to combat this national epidemic, private individuals in the home, school, or workplace must also rise to join the battle. Anyone who suspects a loved one to be in danger of heroin abuse must strive to help address the issue by reaching out to the proper rehabilitation centers and health professionals for assistance.

If every person and sector in society is actively involved in this fight, the crisis can be conquered by saving one life at a time.


Drug Testing

How To Choose Between The Most Common Types of Drug Testing

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Drug testing has earned a massive following because of its importance in human life, particularly in office and industrial settings. Aside from reducing employee absenteeism, conducting drug tests helps increase employee productivity and promotes a healthier and safer workplace. Aside from that, implementing an effective drug policy could result to a significant reduction in workers compensation premiums.

In any testing program, the goal is to generate trustworthy results. Depending on the methodology of testing and the kind of medium, there are different levels of drug testing in terms of risk. It is important to select the testing method that caters to the needs of your company while providing an acceptable level of risk mitigation.

Drug and alcohol testing may help mitigate the dangers of injury and property damage. At the same time, it may strengthen corporate safety culture. Given the wide variety of drug testing options, you can decide on the testing service to use.

You may either conduct testing in your office or in an external clinic. You have the prerogative when to start the program and what method you are going to use. These are important considerations that you need to think about before conducting drug testing in your office.

The need for drug testing has increased dramatically, especially in high-risk industries.

The need for drug testing has increased dramatically, especially in high-risk industries.

Where To Conduct Drug Testing

If you choose to conduct your drug testing at a clinic or laboratory, ensure that the testing firm that handles the procedure is a reputable and certified one. Credible testing programs will usually involve two steps, namely initial and confirmatory.

With on-site drug testing, you can immediately see the results of the testing. On-site drug testing is becoming popular because the employer can make decisions at the time of the testing. For confirmatory tests, an employee can conveniently return to the testing facility and resume work immediately.

When the sample requires further investigation, your manager will immediately know and have the capacity to monitor your testing as indicated in your drug and alcohol policy. Your sample will be sent to a NATA-accredited laboratory for confirmatory testing. When the confirmatory test has been returned, your doctor will help you interpret the results.

On-site testing can be incorporated into your drug and alcohol testing program or you can train your staff to collect the samples based on the AS/NZS 4308:2008 or AS 4760. This way, you can test your own staff whenever you want.

On the other hand, laboratory-based testing is done at a NATA-accredited laboratory for screening and confirmation (if needed). This reduces the possibility of on-site false positive and false negative results. At the same time, it provides confidentiality of drug testing.

Negative results can be retrieved usually a day after the samples have been received in the laboratory. A confirmation positive result is usually available after two business days after receiving the sample within the laboratory.

Type of Drug Testing

Before proceeding to choose the right drug testing method for your business, let us first discuss the different types of drug testing procedures available in the market. A “panel” refers to a drug or family of drug that is included in a drug test. The more panels included, the wider the scope of the test.

5 Panel Drug Test

This panel examines a specimen in order to test for 5 different substances: THC, cocaine, opiates, phencylcidine, and amphetamines. This is the most common drug test method, and is used by the Department of Transportation and the Federal government.

There are other options available outside of the 5-panel drug test. With these procedures, you simply add more drugs to the panel. Although the number of drug panels is dependent on the employees being tested, combinations of drugs constitute a panel more frequently than others. If you want several panels tested, you will just add another drug to each additional panel.

6-Panel Drug Test

In this type of test, benzodiazepines are added. Benzodiazepines are designed for treating panic attacks, generalized anxiety, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal. Common examples of benzodiazepines are Valium & Klonopin. Although well-tolerated, the usual side effects associated with abuse of benzodiazepines  include fatigue, dizziness, and weakness. The 6-panel drug test is recommended for industries that require alertness, such as jobs that involve heavy machinery.

7-Panel Drug Test

In a 7-panel drug test, barbiturates are added to the panel aside from benzodiazepines. These substances are sedative-hypnotic drugs designed to reduce anxiety and fight insomnia. Also known as downers, barbiturates can affect the brain in the same way alcohol or sleeping pills do. These substances are frequently used in suicide attempts and may result to death or coma. When abused, barbiturates can lead to drowsiness and confusion. The 7-panel drug test can be used in industries where safety is a major concern.

8-Panel Drug Test

With the 8-panel drug test, the drug quaalude is added to the equation. Quaalude is a brand name for the drug methagualone. It is usually used recreationally for relaxing the muscles of an aphrodisiac. Currently it is not frequently used in North America, and that’s why the 7-panel drug test is more recommended than an 8-panel drug test within the U.S.

9-Panel Drug Test

In a 9-panel drug test, the drugs benzodiazepines, barbiturates, quaaludes, & propoxyphene are added to the list of substances identified by the test. Propoxyphene is a highly addictive narcotic pain reliever. Once it interacts with other drugs, it can slow down heart beat, create confusion, cause fainting, and trigger seizures.

Testing an employee using the 9-panel drug test may make sense. Employees who experience so much pain will require a narcotic pain reliever, but the risky complications and the addictive nature of propoxyphene cannot be denied.

10-Panel Drug Test

In a 10-panel drug test, methadone is added to the previous nine drugs. It can be abused as a pain reliever and result to extreme exhaustion and numbness.

When the test is conducted in the laboratory, the results are usually available 24 to 48 business hours after collecting the samples. Confirmatory tests will take 48 to 72 hours after completion of the test.

11-Panel Drug Test

An 11-panel drug test includes everything on an 8-panel drug test but adds methadone, oxycodone, & tricyclic antidepressants. The latter is no longer popular as an anti-depressant mainly because of its many side effects. The drug is known for causing moderate cognitive impairment, anxiety, and exhaustion.

12-Panel Drug Test

A 12-panel drug test usually tests everything a 10-panel drug test does, but adds on percoset/oxycodone and Ecstasy/MDMA. This type of drug test essentially checks for additional opiates and painkillers that may not be detected in fewer panels. This fairly comprehensive drug test is utilized in industries that have great responsibility for public welfare.

The 12-panel drug test is an accurate method for detecting recent drug use. It is widely popular for drug testing due to its speed and accuracy.

Employers need to know which type of drug testing works for them.

Employers need to know which type of drug testing works for them.

Which Drug Testing Method Is Best For You?

If you are not legally required to conduct testing beyond these substances, the 5-panel drug test is the most recommended procedure for drug testing. The test is designed to detect the presence of commonly abused street drugs. Larger panel drug tests aim to detect prescription drugs and painkillers as well.

However, determining the best drug testing method that is best for your company depends on several factors such as the industry you are in, the laws that govern the industry, and company culture.

Industry-Based Drug Testing Standards

  • In the Department of Transportation, the standard testing method for all drivers is the 5-panel drug test. They are required to undergo a pre-employment test, random drug test, and an annual drug test.
  • For home health aides, the recommended test method is the 8-panel drug test.
  • For construction and heavy machinery firms, the usual testing type involves 9 or more panels. These jobs entail alertness, and one of the side effects that need to be checked is fatigue, which can be extremely dangerous in high-activity industries.
  • Those who work in the civil service industry need to undergo and pass a 5-panel drug test, although some states require passing a 10-panel drug test.
  • For some employers looking to strictly enforce a drug-free workplace policy, employees need to pass a rigid 12-panel drug testing.

Corporate culture

For companies who employ wealthy and white collared workers, it is recommended to test them for designer drugs as well. These substances are designed to enhance focus. Although cocaine is still the most commonly abused substance, there has been a rise in the popularity of substances such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Provigil.

In addition, there are also companies that may have a culture that does not have any objection to a commonly tested drug. With the legalization of marijuana now extending to other states as well as different corporate views about the drugs, some companies might opt for a 4-panel drug test – that is, testing drug metabolites found in a 5-panel drug test but with the exception of THC panel.

More Details About Drug Testing

Although not unlimited when it comes to the number of drugs that can be tested, there are still several drugs that are available which includes: marijuana, cocaine, PCP, amphetamine, Ecstasy, methamphetamine, opiates, oxycodone, methadone, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, buprenorphine, tricyclic antidepressants, propoxyphene, tramadol, fentanyl, sufentanil, zolpidem, carisoprodol, meperidine, antihistamines, synthetic cannabinoids, designer stimulants (bath salts), dextromethorphan, direct ethanol biomarkers, high potency opioids, ketamine, propofol glucuronide, & Ritalin.

There is also an option for testing alcohol but since it cannot be detected from urine and the bloodstream, it is usually implemented for random testing and due to reasonable suspicion. Breathalyzer tests are best for detecting alcohol abuse.

Depending on the drug and testing medium, screening can make use of urine, hair, blood, or saliva for testing. The selected testing medium can have an effect on how far back the substances can be detected. Aside from that, the size, weight, health, hydration level, and similar factors may affect the extent of detection of drug abuse.

Bear in mind that opioid use can lead to further addiction (such as heroin), and so the standard 5- and 10-panel drug tests may not be enough to fulfill your requirements. A 12-panel drug test may be the right procedure that will satisfy your need as it also detects opiates and painkillers that will not be detected by a test that uses fewer panels.