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What is being tested in a Urine Drug Test?

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A urine drug test (UDT), also known as a urine drug screen (UDS), is the most common way of toxicology testing due to its ease of sampling. A urine drug test is used to measure the presence of both prescription medications and illegal or prohibited drugs in your body. 

What is the purpose of a urine drug test? 

Several scenarios exist under which a urine drug test must be conducted. It can be used to detect the use or even the abuse of any drug. In this case, abuse of drugs refers to the scenario where patients often use the medications prescribed to them by doctors improperly or unintentionally. The urine drug tests the doctors prescribe also check for stimulants which are used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. 

Which drugs can be detected by a urine drug test?

Depending upon the requirement, the urine drug test is done to detect the following types of drugs – 

  • Cannabinoids 

Cannabinoids are a type of chemical that is present in Marijuana. It causes a drug-like effect throughout one’s central nervous system as well as the immune system. Cannabinoids may also offer relief to people with symptoms or side effects of cancer. The types of cannabinoids that can be detected by a urine drug test are:-

  1. THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)  cannabinoids
  2. Synthetic cannabinoids 
  • Depressants

Depressants are medicines that reduce stimulation and arousal by affecting the CNS. These types of medicines are generally used to treat – anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disorders, and also stress. The types of depressants that can be detected by a urine drug test are:-

  1. Methaqualone
  2. Barbiturates
  3. Benzodiazepines
  • Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are a group of drugs that are capable of making alterations to a person’s thoughts and feelings, thus, making them unaware of their surroundings. These types of drugs are reportedly used by people recently for relieving stress, or even for recreational purposes. The ones that can be detected by a urine drug test are:-

  1. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
  2. PCP (phencyclidine)
  3. Alcohol
  • Narcotics

Narcotics are the kind of drugs that are used mainly for pain relief as it produces analgesia. The types of narcotics that are detected by a urine drug test are:-

  1. Oxycodone
  2. Opioids
  3. Buprenorphine
  4. Methadone
  5. Hydrocodone
  6. Heroin
  • Stimulants

Stimulants are the types of drugs that increase the activities of the CNS. These drugs are used for various purposes like – medicinal purposes, recreational purposes, and even for the improvement of the performance of a human being. The stimulants that are detected by a urine drug test are:-

  1. Cocaine
  2. Methamphetamines
  3. Cotinine
  4. Amphetamines

What are the circumstances under which a urine drug test needs to be performed?

There are several circumstances under which a urine drug test needs to be carried out. They are as follows:-

  • Forensic testing 

Among all other shreds of evidence that are needed to prove a crime, a urine drug test also plays a vital role, and thus it can be randomly carried out during an investigation mainly in cases where a person is on probation for a drug-related offense. 

  • Professional testing

Before hiring an employee, many employers require potential employers to take a urine drug test. This ensures whether the employee is under any illegal drug addiction, thus, keeping them out of high-risk or safety-sensitive jobs that require the employees to stay alert and focused. This also lowers the risk of on-the-job accidents. This type of drug testing is mainly required in the department of defense, and also in the department of transport. 

  • Medical testing

In the case of hospitalized patients, testing for drug use or misuse is not required. Still in certain circumstances, performing a urine drug test may be important for cases like an organ transplant, or suspected drug overdose. 

  • Athletic testing

A urine drug test falls among the list of important tests when it comes to testing professional athletes as they need to stay completely focused each time they are on the field. 

  • Military testing

Some drugs can be performance-enhancing. Thus, military personnel needs to go for random urine drug tests often.

What does the urine drug test measure?

In general, a urine drug test is unable to detect any sort of current addiction or intoxication. A urine drug test is usually conducted to detect any kind of past drug use or abuse within the detection window. There are several factors with the help of which drugs can be detected in a urine blood test. They include:-

  1. There may be the presence of the drug itself in the urine sample. 
  2. There may be certain drug biomarkers  (i.e., a measurable substance that is present in the body after taking any kind of drugs) in the urine sample, that can suggest the use or misuse of any drug.
  3. There can also be a drug metabolite (biomarkers that remain in the body after ingesting a drug) in the urine sample, that can suggest the use or misuse of any drug. 

All these factors determine whether a person is under the influence of any sort of drug or not with the help of initial or confirmatory urine drug tests. The initial urine drug tests may or may not give accurate results, whereas the confirmatory urine drug tests give a more specific result. 

What are the methods by which a urine drug test can be performed? 

There are four different methods by which a urine drug test can be performed. They are:-

  1. Immunoassay (IA) drug testing.
  2. POC (point of care) drug testing
  3. Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)
  4. Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS)

What is the detection window for different types of drugs in a urine drug test?

The detection window of drugs in the urine sample of a human being depends upon various factors which include:-

  • The frequency at which the drug was used.
  • The metabolization rate of that particular drug, and also the rate by which it is eliminated from the body.

However, at times, certain drugs are tested combinedly using a broad screening panel, and once the results come out positive, the urine samples go for more specific testing. The detection window for different types of drugs is as follows:-

                             Drug                  Detection Window
                            Alcohol                              5 days
                      Amphetamines                               4 days
                        Barbiturates                     24 hours to 21 days
                    Benzodiazepines                            1 month
                          Cocaine                              7 days
                      Marijuana (THC)                            6 weeks
                    Nicotine & Cotinine                              7 days
                            Opioids                            10 days
                  Phencyclidine (PCP)8 days to 30 days
                        Methadone                          3 days
                      Propoxyphene                        24 hours

What are the SAMHSA cut-off values for initial and confirmatory urine drug testing?

The SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) cut-off values for a urine drug test are as follows – 

      Type of Drug  Initial Test Cut OffConfirmatory Test Cut           Off
Amphetamine & Methamphetamine500 ng/mL250 ng/mL
Cocaine metabolite150 ng/mL100 ng/mL
Marijuana (THC)50 ng/mL15 ng/mL
PCP 25 ng/mL25 ng/mL
Heroin metabolite 10 ng/mL10 ng/mL
Codeine & Morphine2000 ng/mL2000 ng/mL
Hydrocodone & Hydromorphone300 ng/mL100 ng/mL
Oxycodone & Oxymorphone 100 ng/mL100 ng/mL

Why choose Affordable Rapid Testing in Phoenix, AZ for a urine drug test?

Urine drug testing falls among the important tests that are required in various professions. Affordable Rapid Testing at Phoenix, AZ, provides affordable, reliable, easy, drug testing services which also include urine testing. You can take prior appointments for getting your test done. We also accept walk-ins. We are DOT and DHHS-certified urine specimen collectors. Schedule an appointment with us to get a hassle-free UDT experience. 

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