How Long Does a Drug Test Take?
How long does the test take, and how long will it take to get the results back? The answer depends on whether you get a negative or positive result.
You’ve got the job! However, your new employer insists on you taking a drug test. How long does the test take, and how long will it take to get the results back? The answer depends on whether you get a negative or positive result. A negative result comes back within two days. A positive result requires further testing, which can take up to a week.
What About During Pandemics?
In a unique situation such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, test results can take longer. Just how much longer depends on the individual lab. There were recent severe labor shortages which meant fewer tests could be processed in a day, though things are generally running normally for drug testing labs at this time.
Types of Tests
The most common types of drug tests are urine and saliva. Some employers use rapid tests which can get results back in as little as four hours. These tests check for common illegal drugs and for alcohol abuse. Saliva tests are done very quickly. All you have to do is open your mouth and let an employee swab your cheek. Urine tests take as long as you can to produce enough urine for testing. A lab employee does not need to watch you pee for a pre-employment drug test. Hair tests take a short time, since all the technician has to do is pluck a few hairs. Blood tests take the longest, since there is usually a long wait, prep time, time for the phlebotomist to find a vein and for filling the bottles. Blood drug tests are highly unusual, but often give more accurate results than any of the other types of tests.
What if Test is Positive?
If you get a positive, you will usually get contacted by a lab employee called a medical review officer or MRO to go over your recent medical history. You may have to provide prescriptions and your doctor’s contact information for the medications you are on. Let the MRO know about any vitamins, herbs or over-the-counter medicines you have recently taken.
There are foods, legal herbs and over the counter medications that can trigger false positives. When you go for your test, take a list of any prescription or over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbs you routinely take. Let the technician know if you have recently eaten poppy seeds, since this can trigger a false positive.
If you get a false positive, you can request that a second test be done. This might include a blood test. The only drug you can’t have a false positive on is for cocaine. Nothing is known to trigger a false positive for cocaine. If you get a positive for cocaine and you haven’t touched the stuff, then your sample was mishandled or some other mistake by the lab was made. You can get a second test done.
How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?
Drugs can be detected in your urine weeks after you last took them if you are or were a chronic user. If you only take a drug once or use it very occasionally, then it only stays in your system for a few days. One of the reasons heroin is so popular is that it leaves your system in two days, whether you are a chronic user or not.
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