There are many good reasons why you had to do a urine test, and eagerly wait for your results to come back from the testing lab.
Some of these reasons may be health related, such as your doctor checking for kidney or liver diseases.
However, most urine tests are done to check for the presence of drugs and illegal substances in your body.
What Is A Urine Test?
A urine test, also called a urinalysis, is a simple test that looks at a sample of your urine. This test can help discover any health problems that may need treatment, such as infections, diabetes or other diseases.
A urine test can also be called by police officers, judges and other officials to check for drugs in your system.
What Is A Urine Drug Test?
A urine test specifically for drugs, also known as a urine drug screen or a UDS, is a small and painless test.
This test is one of the most common drugs tests used, and while it can occasionally produce a false result, urine tests are quick, simple and economically sensible.
Generally, a urine drug test looks for residual chemicals that are produced when your body processes the drug.
This means, that the test can detect substances which are no longer active in your body for days and weeks before the test.
It analyzes your urine for the presence of certain illegal drugs and prescription medications, such as:
Screening tests can also trace alcohol in your urine but it’s generally detected in breath tests or blood tests.
If the results of a urine drug test are questioned, the urine sample can then be run through a GC-MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry), which can provide a much more accurate result, with the detection of a number of different substances.
Purpose Of The Urine Drug Test
There are quite a few scenarios where you might need to do a urine drug test.
Your doctor may order this test if they suspect you have an issue with drug or alcohol abuse.
Also emergency room doctors, nurses or paramedics might request a urine drug test if they notice you are confused or your behavior is dangerous.
People with a professional sports career and all athletes are regularly tested for drugs and other illegal substances.
In addition to this, many employers also ask their potential employees to take a urine drug test before they start, to ensure a safe work environment.
A great benefit of urine drug screenings is that people with drugs problems are not allowed into potentially harmful job situations where concentration is required.
For employers and businesses, drug testing can significantly lower the risk of on-the-job accidents.
On the other hand, also alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers test their residents on a regular basis to help ensure patients receive the right treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.
For criminal offenders and those on parole or probation, the probation officer in charge of your case may ask you randomly to take a drug test to verify that you are sober or clean.
How Are Drug Tests Conducted?
When a drug test was requested by your employer or doctor, they usually have an existing relationship with a medical laboratory that can do the urine test.
There, you may be able to just walk in, and the lab will look after the rest.
Some doctors may also give you a document with the orders for a drug test so you can take this to a medical lab corporation that’s covered by their insurance. These professional medical centers are acceptable testing facilities.
Preparing for a Drug Test
The best way to prepare for your drug test is to not take any drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs at least six weeks before the test. This should ensure that the test result will be negative.
You can also do a few other things that make sure the drug testing process goes as smoothly as possible.
It’s important that you let the lab know about any medications or supplements you are taking. This is so nothing interferes with the test results.
If you are taking an prescription drugs, such as oxycodone or opiates, you should disclose this to the lab ahead of time.
Another thing that’s good to do before your test is to drink water the night and morning before your test. This will help you to produce enough urine for a sample.
However, try not to drink too much water as too much fluid could dilute the urine sample and would require retesting.
If technicians think you may have altered the sample in any way, they may be required to observe the urine sampling to make sure it’s legitimate.
Drug testing, like other medical tests, is a standardized procedure and nothing to worry about.
Well known medical laboratories like LabCorp and Quest will give you guidance on the process, and once the test is over, your results will be provided confidentially to the person who requested the test.
Some test analyzers may also make the test results available to you online, or upon request in print.
How To Take A Urine Drug Test
Most standard urine drug tests take place in a bathroom specifically prepared for drug testing. The test procedure includes:
- You will receive a specimen cup with a lid from the person who administers the test
- While taking the test, you should leave your bag and belongings in another room. Your pockets also should be empty.
- You usually take the taste on your own, and it’s rare that a same-gendered technician or nurse accompanies you. If this is the case, the reasons for this supervised testing should be explained to you.
- In the bathroom, clean your genital area with a moist cloth which should be provided in the room.
- Then urinate into the cup you have been given. You should produce at least 45 ml for the urine sample. If you are not sure how much this should be, make sure yo ask the nurse or technician before you enter the bathroom.
- When you are finished, put the lid on the cup and hand it to the technician.
- The technician will initially measure the temperature of your sample to ensure it’s in the expected range.
- It’s important that the collector and you must always keep an eye on the sample until it has been sealed and packaged for testing.
Drug Test Result Timeline
Depending on what type of drug test you have done, the delivery of results can be fairly quick.
For example, alcohol levels from a breath test can show up instantly. However, urine sample results can take a few hours to come back.
For drug blood tests you will have to wait anywhere between two to four days.
The timing for the final results will also depend on whether the testing equipment and facility are on-site or if the sample needs to be shipped to an external lab.
If the test analyzer is on the same site where the urine sample was taken, then the test results should be available in a few hours.
Most companies will also retest in case of a positive result, to ensure the positive is accurate.
Drug testing companies like LabCorp also offer you access to your test results online. They set up an account which allows you to view the results as soon as they are available.
LabCorp can deliver test results to your doctor within 24 hours, and it will post urine test results to the online portal within two to seven days.
How Long Does LabCorp Take For Results?
LabCorp state on their website that results are delivered to your online account at the same time as they are reported to your healthcare provider.
State or federal laws may restrict timing of delivery, so this can vary for some people.
LabCorp also states that some drug test results may not be available on their online LabCorp Patient portal, such as such as employee drug screening.
While usually results for most routine tests will be available within 2 weeks, this can depend on some other factors as well:
Check your personal profile information is correct in your Labcorp Patient account
Make sure your personal information on file with your healthcare providers matches the information in your Labcorp Patient account.
If you are using LabCorp for the first time, lab results can take up to 3 hours after account creation and your identity has been authenticated. This delay occurs because the system needs to search for your historical lab results.
LabCorp also send you email notifications when your urine drug test result is available.
Other Types Of Drug Tests
Besides urine testing, there are also a number of other drug tests that may be more accurate.
Blood Drug Tests
For a blood test, a sample of your blood is taken to determine whether you are actively using drugs or alcohol.
The majority of drugs, including prescription drugs, show up in the blood stream immediately, so when someone is suspected of drug misuse, a blood test can confirm this.
Blood tests check for substances such as:
- A number of other opiate-type painkiller drug compounds
- Breath Drug Testing
Unlike urine tests, blood testing is much more complicated, more expensive and more invasive than other kinds of drug tests. They also take longer to analyze and process.
For this reason, blood tests are mostly used to prove a positive urine test result or to receive more accurate results.
Hair Drug Testing
A hair test is seen as the best indicator of repeat drug use. Hair tests can detect repeat drug use for up to 90 days.
As hair tests have a much wider detection window, they remove the opportunity for people to abstain for a few days before being tested. Therefore, they identify long-term drug users.
Hair testing requires only a small sample of hair. This non-invasive test is considered a great test for pre=-employment and random drug testing programs.
A hair test checks on substances like marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines, PCP and opioids.
We have seen that there are a whole range of different tests that can be used to confirm drug and alcohol abuse.
Urine drug tests are one of the most common and quick testing options to check if an individual has been using drugs or prescription medication in the weeks before the test.
The results of drug tests can have wide consequences for an individual. They can help employers make a decision on hiring someone, or support drug rehabilitation staff with designing treatment plans for their patients.