Professional Drug Testing Methods
There are many professional drug-testing
methods available for employers or organizations to use, including
those using hair samples, saliva samples, and the most
commonly-used sample for testing: urine.
Here, First Check explains what you can expect during a
professional workplace drug test. First Check understands the
technology used in professional drug screening . Many First
Check® Home Drug testing products are
more than 99 percent accurate.
- Once a company has determined an employee should
be drug tested, the company may outsource the collection of a urine
sample to a third party collection agency, which in turn may
partner with a testing laboratory.
The employee is given a specific
amount of time to go to the collection lab to give a urine
After a sample is produced (usually
under observation if the individual being tested is on parole or a
rehabilitation clinic is involved), a chain of custody form is
signed. Here is an example of what the form might say:
- “I certify that I provided my urine specimen to
the collector and that I have not adulterated it in any manner. The
specimen was sealed in my presence with a tamper evident seal and
the information provided on this form and on the label affixed to
the specimen tube is correct.”
- The specimen is then sealed and a preliminary
screening takes place, usually on the premises of the collection
Under Federal government guidelines
issued by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA),
companies that test their employees must test for five specific
categories of drugs, sometimes known as the “NIDA 5.”
- The five categories are:
- Cannabinoids (marijuana, hash)
- Cocaine (cocaine, crack, benzoylecognine)
- Amphetamines (amphetamines, methamphetamines,
- Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
- Some companies or facilities may opt for
additional drug screening, testing for drugs such as Ecstasy and
- Most companies adhere to SAMHSA-identified
cut-off levels. However, some industries may test for higher or
lower cut-off levels than the SAMHSAidentified cut-off levels,
depending on their standards.
- However, some industries may test for higher or
lower cut-off levels than the SAMHSA-identified cut-off levels,
depending on their standards.
- The urine sample is then tested for the
presence of drugs by using a screening device.
- If the preliminary results are Negative for all
drugs, the sample does not require confirmatory testing.
- If the preliminary results are Positive for any
or all drugs, the urine sample is shipped to a laboratory for
further analysis. The laboratory uses a highly sensitive testing
method called gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS)to
confirm and quantify the drugs of abuse present in the urine
sample. GC/MS is considered the gold standard in laboratory testing
for most drugs and can determine the amount of drug or drug
metabolite in urine and rule out any substances that might cause a
false positive through cross-reactivity.
- When confirmatory testing of the urine sample is
complete, test results are provided via mail, fax, or the Internet
to the company that ordered the test.