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Article Summary

Drug Testing

Drug testing can be done using a number of biological specimens including urine, blood, hair, oral fluid etc. to see if there are any types of drugs in a person's system. Drug testing can be used for a number of reasons, and some tests don't only detect recent drug use but past drug use depending on the type of testing being done. For example, urine only detects recent drug use of certain drugs while hair can be drug tested to determine drug use over the course of many years. Drug testing can be done for a number of reasons, and is most often utilized in the work place as a pre-requisite for employment or in sports to detect performance enhancing drugs.

Types of Drug Tests

As an example, a typical urine sample drug test checks for presence of 10 different drugs or their metabolites, i.e. what the drug is metabolized into once the individual ingests it or administers the drug. These 10 substances are

  • Amphetamines (Including methamphetamine)
  • Barbiturates (Prescription sedatives and central nervous system depressants)
  • Benzodiazepines (Prescription sedatives and central nervous system depressants)
  • Cannabinoids (Anything containing THC such as marijuana or hashish)
  • Cocaine
  • Methadone (Often utilized as part of opiate maintenance therapy but often illicitly diverted)
  • Methaqualone (A prescription sedative hypnotic which is often illicitly diverted and abused)
  • Opiates (This can include heroin or any type of prescription pain killer)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Propoxyphene (A prescription pain reliever which has been discontinued but is often illicitly diverted and abused)

Drug Detection Periods

How long a drug can be detected in one's system using drug testing depends on a number of factors including which type of drugs has been used at what dosage, how fast it is metabolized in the body, one's weight and overall health as well are urine PH levels. Drug testing has become rather sophisticated as well, and as stated before don't only test for the drugs themselves but their metabolites which remain in the body a bit longer. For instance, heroin will only show up in drug testing a few hours after one uses this drug. Heroin's metabolites however remain in the urine for several days. So when drug testing is done, it will show the metabolites for heroin resulting in a failed drug test even if heroin was used a few days prior.

Drug testing can be very helpful in bringing cases of substance abuse to light. While this may seem like bad news for the user, in the long run it is the best thing that could happen for them. This provides co-workers and loved ones an opportunity to get the individual the help they may need if substance abuse is a serious problem in their lives, which could ultimately save their lives.

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