When choosing what drug tests to administer, the biggest consideration is the number of panels or substances to test for. When choosing between the 4 panel vs. 5 panel drug test, which to use can vary depending on your need. There are urinalysis drug tests with wider ranges of substances (6- or 10-panel, for example, even up to 12). However, the standard for most government positions is a 5 panel screening, with some even seeing the need to reduce it to four. Why is this the case?

Simply put, when doing these kinds of drug screenings it might not be necessary to screen as widely as possible. For these tests, this means focusing on some of the most commonly used drugs, including drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines. These typically focus on the five most commonly used drugs. 

Why would some consider 4 panel drug tests over 5 panel ones? Many of those considering a 4 panel drug test are typically looking at not screening for marijuana or THC particularly. This is not the only reason to get a 4 panel drug test. There are other options to consider.

Reasons for a 5 panel drug test

A 5 panel drug test is standard for most federal positions, including with the Department of Transportation. This version screens for cocaine, amphetamine/methamphetamine, opiates, PCP, and THC. Since this version has federal acceptance, many private companies try to rely on a similar standard. These five drugs are among the ones most commonly consumed, and thus, make the most sense to screen for.

While many seeking out a 4 panel drug test eliminate a substance like THC or PCP from the panel. Alternatively, one of these substances can be ignored and another one screened for in its place. While most screening services will be familiar with the federal 5 panel test, there should be options available for you.

Reasons for a 4 panel drug test

Many employers are finding reasons to opt for a 4 panel drug test instead. The most common reason to pursue a 4 panel drug test is to remove THC from the 5 panel choices. For example, in many states where marijuana legislation has changed, they have reason to remove THC from the traditional 5 panel drug test. Other employers may customize their panel accordingly depending on need. Another variation of the 4 panel drug test leaves out PCP as a screened-for substance. If there were other substances with similar concerns, you could alter the panels accordingly.

These panel tests are the most common, as they screen for some of the most common drugs in use. A 6-panel drug test will typically add barbituates to the other big 5 normally searched for. The 7-panel drug test also screens for benzodiazepines standard along with the previous six. 

There are even 10- and 12-panel tests. The standard 10-panel test looks for cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines, barbituates, methadone, propoxyphene, and Quaaludes. 

The standard 12 panel adds Ecstasy/MDMA & Oxycodone/Percoset for the substances screened for. These intense drug screening panels typically are for employees in law enforcement and occupational medicine.

Turn to Soteria Drug Screening for Help

Soteria Drug Screening we’re working to help create a drug and alcohol-free workplace. Signing up for a company account with Soteria is quick and easy. You’ll only be charged for tests completed, with no monthly or hidden fees. 

Our secure testing facilities still allow real-time electronic updates on your status options. Turnaround is fast with local and national facilities. We also offer a 4 panel drug test for unemployment. 

If you’re interested in a 5 panel drug test or a 4 panel drug test we can help at Soteria. The 4 panel tests exclude THC while still screening for cocaine, amphetamines/methamphetamines, opiates, and PCP.

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