If you are an employer thinking about requiring a drug test, you may be wondering what type you should choose.  There are two main types of tests that are commonly used in the workplace: a 5-panel drug test and a 10-panel drug test.  What is the difference between these two, and which one should you use in your company?  Here is everything you need to know about panel drug tests for your employees.

5-Panel Drug Test

A 5 panel drug test is a urine test that checks for the most commonly abused illegal substances.  These include:

  • Amphetamines such as speed, meth, and drugs used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy like Ritalin and Adderall
  •  Cocaine and crack cocaine
  • Cannabis, including marijuana, THC, hashish, and synthetic cannabinoids
  • Opioids like heroin, opium, codeine, and morphine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Some 5-panel drug tests also check for alcohol.  This is the most common type of drug test since these are the most regularly abused substances.  The majority of businesses that require drug tests use the 5-panel variety.

10-Panel Drug Test

A 10-panel drug test is also a urine test but is a bit more extensive.  In addition to checking for the same drugs as the 5-panel drug test, the 10-panel test also looks for:

  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone
  • Propoxyphene

While the 5-panel drug test scans mostly for illegal drugs, the 10-panel drug test scans for half legal and half illicit substances.  While it is possible that there will be people in your workplace that take one of these drugs legally, they are also the most commonly abused prescription drugs on the market.  Employers are legally allowed to use this test even on workers who take some of the medications with a prescription in order to look for other potential substance abuse. 

Jobs that involve the health and safety of others such as transportation, the medical field including medical schools, government entities, and law enforcement may require a 10-panel drug test.

How Long Does a Drug Test Work?

Since 5 and 10-panel drug tests scan for so many different substances, the detection window for the drugs varies.  Opioids stay in the body for the shortest amount of time and can only be detected one to three days after use.  Amphetamines and propoxyphene only remain in the system for two days. 

Methadone can be detected two to seven days after use, and phencyclidine, for eight days.  Benzodiazepines and cocaine remain in the bloodstream for anywhere from two to ten days.  Barbiturates last two to fifteen days; methaqualone, ten to fifteen; and cannabis can be found by a drug test for anywhere from three to thirty days, depending on how frequently it is used.

This means that if you suspect drug abuse in an employee, a test may come back negative if they have not taken it recently.  For example, if someone knows that drug testing is coming up on Friday, they will make sure to abstain the week prior in order to appear clean.  This is why many employers use random testing to keep their workplace safe.

Looking for a 5 or 10-Panel Drug Test for Your Company?

Whichever drug test you choose to give your employees, you need a provider you can trust.  Soteria Screening Laboratories knows the importance of drug testing in keeping your business safe and efficient.  They offer 10 panel and 5-panel drug test options as well as random testing.  Call (202) 679-6670 to learn more or to order a drug test today.

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