Urine Drug Test Timeline: Understanding the Window for Accurate Drug Testing

July 31, 2019

Drug Testing Articles

urine drug test

Ever wondered how long the window is to test someone that could be using drugs? This article should help you understand the urine drug test window & timeframe.

Whether it’s due to the stress of an ultra-competitive workplace, the desire to have enough energy to go out after a workday, or even because of an existing addiction, drug use while at work has been consistently on the rise over the past few years.

If you’ve received complaints from your employees that they suspect someone in your office is working under the influence of illegal drugs, it’s your responsibility as a manager or leader in the office to take action.

You don’t want to put your business’ reputation, the safety of other employees, and of course, the addict themselves, at any further risk.

If you’re not among the 57% of companies that conduct drug testing on your employees, now is the time to start. And even if you have a current drug testing policy in place at your business, you still need to make sure you’re getting accurate results.

That begins with understanding proper urine drug test detection times.

In this post, we’ll help you to better understand the urine drug test timeline.

A Quick Overview of a Urine Drug Test

Before we get into the specific testing window, let’s ensure that you know a few basic urine drug test facts first.

Urine drug testing still remains the most common method of drug testing in the workplace and beyond. This is likely because it’s familiar, completely painless, non-invasive, and affordable.

Urine testing can provide employers with results for a variety of specific illegal drugs including cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana, and more. Urine tests can also show results for some prescription medications such as tricyclic antidepressants.

Interestingly, some urine tests can also provide you with results for alcohol and nicotine use, though they’re not commonly used for this purpose.

You can choose urine tests that look for a specific drug or numerous different drugs at the same time.

The employee will give the tester a urine sample inside of a cup, and the tester will then ensure that the temperature for accurate testing results is correct. The specimen is labeled and, if needed, a protective seal/label can be placed over the top of the cup to prevent tampering.

You should have the results in about five minutes, but if the sample tests positive for drugs, you’ll likely need to have it sent to a toxicology lab for more information/confirmation.

Understanding Urine Drug Test Detection Times

If you decide to implement a urine drug test, you need to ensure that you understand what impacts the overall window of detection, or the amount of time that a drug can still be detected in a urine sample after it was taken.

There is also what’s known as the cut-off level, which is the amount of drugs in the system that will still provide you with an accurate positive or negative result.

Remember that just because an employee tests negative for a drug doesn’t always mean that they’re not using drugs.

Instead, it just means that the amount of drugs they’ve used is lower than the cut-off level. This level was implemented to reduce the overall number of false positives.

The positive thing about urine drug tests is that drugs remain detectable in urine samples for much longer than oral fluid samples (such as a swab drug test.)

However, here’s what you need to understand: how long a drug remains detectable depends on several different factors.

First, how much of the drug was taken and how often it’s taken will impact the results. So will the employee’s metabolism, how much they’ve exercised since using the drugs, how many fluids the employee has consumed since drug use, and even the drug itself.

Now, let’s provide you with a quick urine testing window for some of the most common drugs.

Common Urine Testing Windows

A recent study found that nearly 30% of drug users say that they use on the way to work, while over 20% say that they use on their lunch breaks.

While you’ll certainly be able to detect drugs in the systems of people who have used them on the same day as the test, if they’re more sporadic users, it’s important to have a grasp on the overall urine testing windows for specific drugs.

Use the information below to help you understand the timeline if urine testing retention:

  • Alcohol: 1.5 hours per 1 ounce consumed
  • Amphetamines: Between 2-4 days
  • Methadone: Between 3-5 days
  • Barbiturate: Between 4-7 days
  • Benzodiazepine: Between 3-7 days
  • Cocaine: Between 2-4 days
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: Between 7-10 days
  • Oxycodone: Between 2-4 days
  • Phencyclidine: Between 7-14 days
  • Propoxyphene: Between 1-2 days
  • Opiates: Between 2-4 days
  • Methamphetamine: Between 3-5 days
  • Marijuana: Between 15-30 days

Is It Time to Implement a Urine Drug Test Policy in Your Workplace?

We hope that this post has helped you to understand why now is the time to implement a drug testing policy at work, as well as outlined the overall detection windows of urine drug test results.

Keep in mind, too, that urine collection is far from the only way that you can screen your employees for drug use.

You can also use hair follicle drug tests, saliva drug tests, and even dip cards.

So, where can you go to get the quality, affordable drug testing supplies and kits that you need?

That’s where we at Rapid Detect, Inc come in.

Not only do we offer a wide variety of testing options, (including D.O.T. approved tests and more) but we’re also proud to be an approved United States government vendor and a member of the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association.

Our experience and commitment to our customers ensures that you’ll get the results that you need to keep your business and employees safe.

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