What Drugs Are They Looking for in a Urinalysis Drug Screen?


Mandatory drug testing, Guantanamo Bay

Urine drug tests usually include common drugs but drugs tested for is dependent on the panel used. Most tests include a standard five drug tests.  The Department of Transportation drug test (DOT 5) and National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA 5) drug test usually tests for opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, cannabinoids and phencyclidine.

Opiates are drugs derived from the resin of poppy (Papaver somniferum). It is an addictive narcotic which works as a pain reducer by depressing the central nervous system. In cases of extreme dosage, it can also depress the respiratory system, resulting in unconsciousness and death. Heroin is the most common opiate used for the euphoria it brings but in medicine morphine was utilized to reduce extreme pain.

Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that are taken to bring about a sense of well being and energy. In medicine, it is used to treat attention deficit disorder and depression. Symptoms of use include alertness, wakefulness and lack of hunger.

Cocaine is derived from alkaloids in the leaves of the coca plant (Erythroxylum coca). It is a nervous system stimulant that produces a sense of euphoria. It inhibits the uptake of serotin and is extremely addictive.

Cannabinoids are derivatives of the marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa). The most common forms are marijuana and hashish. Cannabis lowers inhibitions, increases sensory perception and induces mild euphoria in moderate doses. Large doses can lead to panic, detachment and depression. Most tests look for the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Phencyclidine also known as PCP is a street drug that induces a superman complex, giving users a sense of increased physical prowess and lowering inhibition to the point that users feel invincible.

Expanded tests look for additional drugs in urine samples. These are called non-DOT panel 10 tests. Companies use these tests in cases of suspected employee drug use, or when screening potential employees. Law enforcement also utilizes the 10-drug tests in cases of habitual drug offenders.  Additional drugs screened for are methamphetamine, methadone, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressant.

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Methamphetamine or crystal meth is a stimulant that is easily broken down by the body to amphetamine. It induces vigor, energy, wakefulness and lack of appetite, making a the drug of choice of party goers under the form Ecstasy (MMDA).

Methadone is a drug commonly used to wean of abusers of opiates. It produces the same effects albeit lasting longer than both heroin and morphine. Thus a single dose can last a whole day, making it a cost-effective substitute.

Barbiturates produce effects similar to alcohol intoxication. Loss of coordination, inhibition and slurring of speech are common symptoms

Benzodiazepines are used medicinally as a sleep-inducing drug. It can relieve stress and prevent seizures by depressing the central nervous system. It produces the mild euphoria associated with alcohol consumption.

TCAs or tricyclic antidepressants have been therapeutically used to treat depression disorders. It raises brain serotonin levels, by inhibiting uptake of nerve cells. It acts as a mild stimulant, producing a very mild feeling of euphoria.

Other specialized tests look for certain drugs like steroids, oxycedone and propoxyphene. Alcohol is also usually screen for when looking for drugs in urine. Another substance tested for is creatinine. Dilution via excess intake of water and no-flush niacin is a common way to flush out substances and pass drug tests. This results in detection of low creatinine levels. Also, the ratio of carboxy-THC, a metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol to creatinine is looked at by drug testers. A high carboxy-THC to creatinine ratio is indicative of recent drug use.

Testing for drugs in urine is a commonplace occurrence in today’s world. Getting a job, going to school, and getting a license are some scenarios where you may encounter these tests.[ad#afterpost]