When it comes to drug testing, 5-panel drug tests are the most common, mostly because they're mandated by federal guidelines for companies using drivers with commercial-class licenses. They generally test for the SAMHSA-5 (named after the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) group of drugs, although the Department of Transport has its own variation.
It can sometimes be hard to find reliable 5-panel drug test facts, so here's a summary of what you need to know, as well as how you can prepare for one.
What do 5-panel urine drug tests look for?
A SAMHSA-5 drug test looks for five basic groups of drugs:
- Cannabinoids like marijuana and hash
- Cocaine and crack cocaine
- Amphetamines like speed and meth, but also some ADHD medications
- Opiates like morphine, opium, heroin and codeine
What if I fail a 5-panel drug test without using any of those drugs?
Some other drugs, even over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, can cause false positives on the initial drug screening. If you're sure you haven't been exposed to any of the above drugs, you should insist on a more accurate GC-MS test to clarify the result.
Is ecstasy detected by a five-panel drug test?
The chemical MDMA is officially included in the DoT 5-panel urine drug test, but it is not strictly part of the SAMHSA-5 test. Even then, there a few other reasons why it may show up:
- MDMA has enough chemical similarity to amphetamine to trigger a false positive.
- Street ecstasy is rarely pure MDMA, if it contains any at all, but rather mixed with other substances, including speed.
Are synthetic opioids like OxyContin detected by the opiates panel?
On a SAMHA-5 drug test, the opiates panel looks exclusively for the presence of morphine, which codeine, heroin, and opium break down into. This means synthetic opioids usually aren't detected, but in the case of OxyContin and other oxycodone-based products, small amounts of morphine are produced. This means heavy users may fail a drug test for opiates.
This applies to SAMHSA-compliant tests, but we can't exclude the possibility that testing labs may launch their own variations that incorporate opioid testing.
How does the testing process work?
Depending on how strict your test is, you will face a certain level of supervision. The procedure will go something like this:
- First you will be asked to empty your pockets.
- You may then be asked to lift your shirt and lower your pants/skirt to show you're not hiding a container of urine or using any special devices.
- You may be allowed to urinate with the cubicle door closed, or you may be watched throughout.
- The tester will then collect your sample and perhaps examine the temperature and color.
How can you prepare for a five-panel drug test?
One of the most important 5-panel drug test facts to know is how you can reliably prepare for your drug test. Given the stricter procedures being increasingly used these days, a good detox drink is the easiest method, because you use it a couple of hours before the test and give a urine sample as normal later. There are many good products available, and even similar solutions in pill form, but whichever one you choose, always follow the directions closely.