If you're going through drug screening for a new job, starting a job where regular drug screening is required, or are court-ordered for regular drug testing, you're likely wondering what's in store for you. In these cases, you'll usually undergo a urine test, since they're most effective, cheap, and results are quick.

Commonly known as a 5-panel drug test, they test for five major drugs that individuals are most likely to use in an illicit manner. Knowing what to expect and how they test helps you be aware of the process.

Learn more about what you'll deal with when you go in for drug testing.

1. Understand Urine Tests Are Most Common :

Urine Tests

When it comes to drug testing, urine is the most common way to find out if an individual has a substance abuse problem. Although other forms of drug testing get used in various circumstances, a 5-panel drug test that uses urine is the industry standard.

That's because these tests are:

  • Cheap
  • Provide quick results
  • Are just as effective as other methods of testing

While testing for drugs through hair and blood get used depending on an individual situation, if you're going to test for pre-employment or randomly get pulled out of work to test, this is what you should expect.

2. The 5 Panel Drug Test Provides the Most Common Drugs Employers and Court Officials Look For :

When it comes to finding out what types of drugs an employee uses, the focus is usually on five types of drugs. There are tests that are more comprehensive when seeking for a specific drug.

In most cases, you'll get a 5-panel drug test that seeks out the following:

  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamine/Meth
  • Opiates
  • THC
  • PCP

The 10-panel test focuses on various drugs that might get prescribed, so unless it's suspected that you're using those substances, you won't face testing for other drugs.

Because addiction to these drugs isn't always apparent at first, and the symptoms lead to serious problems, testing is a legal and definitive way for a company to find out if you have problems that could create a negative effect on your job.

3. Learn Under What Circumstances Testing is Likely to Occur :

Learn Under What Circumstances Testing is Likely to Occur

Consider the type of work you'll perform, and how the company would get concerned about drugs. If you're lifting heavy equipment or working with machinery, it's important that you're sober when working, even if you're given prescription drugs.

Anytime you're involved in an accident while working, you'll get asked to test. This is simply to rule out the possibility of drugs in relation to the accident.

If you're under court supervision, a drug test is an effective means of checking on how you're doing and making sure you aren't breaking parole or house arrest.

Knowing if you're using any of the above-mentioned drugs or not is important for various agencies when judging your character and abilities in relation to work or the law.

4. Know How Various Factors Influence Results on a 5 Panel Drug Test :

Drug Test

There are various factors that affect drug tests. Some of these relate to how your own body processes and breaks down a drug.

Since no two people process drugs in the exact same manner, it's important to understand what factors could alter a 5-panel drug test, without you doing anything to it.

Among factors that influence these tests are:

  • How fast your metabolism is, and how quickly you break down substances in the body
  • Amount of drugs used to get high
  • How often drug usage was
  • How sensitive the test is

A person who uses might unknowingly alter the results of their test without realizing it. For example, someone who is athletic and works out often normally has a fast metabolism which in turn, burns off the drug in the body.

A person who uses infrequently might not register at all on a drug test, making it look as though they've never touched drugs before. Those who use very little have the possibility of not registering the drug in their system.

Drug tests are mean to give an idea of what a person uses, but they aren't a foolproof way to know for sure. Read more about the types of tests commonly administered.

5. Discover How a Third-Party is Usually the One Testing :

If you're administered a 5-panel drug test, chances are that you won't take it at your company or place of work. Unless you've secured work through a recruitment agency, you'll get your drug test at a third-party drug testing site.

These companies focus only on administering drug tests and delivering them to the employer and sometimes the court system. You'll get watched closely in this environment, to make sure the test is getting tampered with.

When you arrive, you'll go into a bathroom along with a cup to collect a urine specimen. You're instructed not to flush, which invalidates the test results.

If you don't follow instructions or your caught tampering with the test, this gets reported back to your employer or the court system, which causes further issues for you.

Once you drop off the specimen, the worker at the test site uses it to find out if your test comes back negative or positive and reports the results to the correct agency from there. You should know within a day or so if anything was found, and what these results mean for you.

Testing is often performed at an outside place not only by someone who is certified and has experience but to prevent the company from being accused of somehow changing or adjusting the results.

A third party is effective for both you and the company and gives you the satisfaction of knowing no one is changing results to benefit themselves.

Learn More :

Understanding how the process works for a 5-panel drug test is important if you believe you'll need to take one.

Learn more about what you can expect when job hunting. Check out our blog on proper etiquette for job seekers, and prepare yourself for a new career.


Mashum Mollah is an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at Viacon, a digital marketing agency that drive visibility, engagement, and proven results. He blogs at MashumMollah.com.

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