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Frequently Asked Questions: Drug Testing

Click on the + to the right to view answers to your most frequently asked questions. Have a questions not listed here? Contact us at .

What's the difference between a drug screening and a drug test?

A drug screening is an instant drug test with a urine or oral specimen. Drug screen results are available within 5 minutes and is typically an inexpensive method of quickly screening for common drugs like marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine and others. Although accurate, a drug screening can result in a false positive for substances like poppy seeds or over the counter medicine. Drug screenings can also be adulterated or substituted. A drug test is what we call a “lab confirmation.” Since a drug screening cannot discern between a drug metabolite or ibuprofen, it is sent to the laboratory for a confirmation and if found positive, reviewed by a Medical Review Officer.

What is a Panel?

At Premier, we offer different drug testing panels (i.e. 5-panel, 6-panel, 9-panel, 10-panel, 12-panel etc.) A panel is group of drugs being tested at once or a multi-drug test. Panels can be customized and the choice of the number of drugs in a panel can be influenced by industry, profession, state laws, or a company’s drug free workplace policy.


How soon after use can a drug be detected in saliva?

Oral fluid testing can detect drugs in the saliva roughly 30-60 minutes after ingestion. This short time-frame makes it an excellent test for post-accident and reasonable suspicion testing situations.

How long can drugs be detected in urine?

Simple rule of thumb for most “street drugs” is about 2-4 days. It usually takes a few hours after drug use for drugs to be detected in the urine.

What is a false positive?

An example of a false positive is poppy seed testing positive for opiates. A false positive is the technical term for a substance which tests positive falsely for another compound.

What is a drug test confirmation?

A drug test confirmation, or lab confirmation, is a urine drug test sent to our accredited laboratory to provide confirmation of results. All instant drug screenings can be confirmed through further laboratory testing, such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), what we call a “drug test confirmation.” A drug test confirmation is recommended in case of a non-negative instant drug screening, false positives, or for when a person has a prescription from a doctor.

Do you send my drug test results to my probation officer?

Yes, if you require your results to be faxed or emailed, we will send them to your probation officer or authorized representative immediately after your test is complete. We also provide copies of previous drug tests if you need them in the future for any reason.

Is an instant drug screening acceptable for my situation?

This depends on your court order or the request of your probation officer. We recommend that you bring your court-ordered documents with you so we can administer the correct testing per your probation officer or court order.

What’s the Difference Between a Saliva Alcohol Test and a Breathalyzer Alcohol Test?

There are four methods to for one’s alcohol concentration, although generally only three are most commonly used:

  • Blood Alcohol Testing: Blood alcohol testing is Gas Chromatography and is the most accurate forensic quality test in the industry today. However, drawing blood is an invasive and expensive procedure that most companies prefer to avoid.
  • Breath Alcohol Testing: Breath alcohol testing ranges from disposable screening testers to the equipment that provides legally admissible results, including digital read-out breath alcohol monitors. Breath alcohol testing is also used as the method to confirm positive saliva alcohol test results.
  • Urine Alcohol Testing: Alcohol urine test will detect the presence of the Ethyl Glucuronide metabolite that is present in the urine when alcohol is consumed and provides a longer detection period than saliva or alcohol breath tests.
  • Saliva Alcohol Testing: Detects the presence of alcohol in saliva up to 8 hours and provides an approximation of relative blood alcohol level. Since the concentration of alcohol in saliva is very close to that in blood, saliva is the preferred specimen for alcohol testing.
What’s the Difference Between an Alcohol Test and a Drug Test?

Alcohol is legal to purchase and consume for adults over the age of 21 and it is also permissible in private settings. For this reason, when performing an alcohol test, only the immediate presence of alcohol in the body can be determined. Drug tests, on the other hand, typically look for evidence of illegal drugs consumed in the past several days (in the case of urine tests) or in the past several months (in the case of hair tests).

Does body hair give the same type of drug test results as head hair?

Body hair can be used for testing. However, while body hair is generally acknowledged as representing a more distant time frame than head hair, the approximate time period cannot be identified due to the high variability of growth rates.

How soon after use can a drug be detected in hair?

It takes approximately 5-10 days from the time of drug use for the hair containing drug to grow above the scalp where it can be collected.

Does hair color effect results for a hair drug test?

Hair color is determined by the amount of melanin in the hair. It has been shown experimentally, through actual hair samples, as well as determined in court that hair color has no significant impact on results.

Can Cold Medicine Affect a Drug Test?

Over-the-counter medicines have drugs including codeine, hydrocodone, and sympathomimetics which can in fact produce positive drug test results.

Codeine is used as a cough suppressant. It enters the body and is metabolized and then converts into morphine. Both codeine and morphine are used to relieve pain. Using products that contain codeine may result in a positive drug test for either codeine or morphine.

Hydrocodone is a highly addictive, FDA approved pain killer as well as used in medications as a cough suppressant. Hydrocodone will produce a postive drug test result.

Sympathomimetics include drugs such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylephrine. They are commonly used as decongestants in OTC cold and flu medicines. These drugs do not produce a positive drug test result.

Other medications like Ephedrine and natural Ephedra, herbal supplements also used for colds, can produce postive drug test results for Speed and Ecstasy.

It is recommended that employees keep a record of dates and medications consumed if positive drug test results do arise.

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