Urine Drug Testing Facts

Here are a few drug testing facts you should be aware of before taking the test.

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Urine Drug Testing Facts

Here are a few drug testing facts you should be aware of before taking the test.


When it comes to drug testing, there’s a lot of information out there, and a lot of misinformation. How do you separate truth from fiction? Well, here are a few urine drug testing facts to be aware of.

  • There Are Two Types of Urine Tests. The most commonly used type of urine test is the immunoassay test, which is administered and processed on site. While not as accurate, it can give employers an idea of who’s clean and who needs to be retested. Retests are typically sent to an outside lab for the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry test. This is much more detailed and much more accurate. However, it also takes longer and is more expensive, so employers tend not to use it unless there’s a clue that something’s not right with the initial, on-site test.
  • They Can Test for a Wide Range of Drugs. Most at-home or on site urine tests can detect a wide variety of substances, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, opiates, and MDMA. However, these tests are qualitative, rather than quantitative. That means they can detect the presence of a particular substance, but not how much of it is in your system. This can lead to false positives from certain prescription drugs and even over the counter medications, which contain trace amounts of these substances.
  • Most Drugs Have a Short Window. Different drugs will remain in your system for different amounts of time. However, most illicit substances are detectable in urine for no more than three days, and some may leave your system in as little as 24 hours. Therefore, if you have a bit of notice before your drug test, it makes it easier to pass.
  • Marijuana Can Be Cumulative. The one exception to the three-day window is marijuana. With marijuana, the more you ingest, the longer it will last in your system. If you’re only an occasional user, a couple of times a week or less, then it can clear out in one to three days. However, if you smoke several times a week, it can take up to three weeks for your urine to test negative. And if you’re a daily marijuana user, even if you stop completely, it can take a month or more for your system to be clear. Edibles will also likely show up on a drug test longer than marijuana that’s been smoked.
  • Most Drugs Won’t Show Up Right Away. If you smoked marijuana before leaving for work, then took a drug test as soon as you arrive, there’s a good chance you’ll test negative. Most drugs take time to enter your urine. For marijuana, it’s between one and three hours. For most other drugs, it’s up to six, though methadone can take up to eight hours, and some antidepressants can take up to 12.
  • Urinalysis Is the Most Popular Type of Drug Testing. While there are other methods of testing for illicit substances, including blood tests, hair tests, and more, urinalysis is by far the most popular. Of employers who drug test, around 95% of them use urine testing. It’s also the only method approved for federally mandated drug testing. That’s because it’s simple to administer and the least invasive drug test.

These are just a few of the things you should know about urine drug tests and how they work. Forewarned is forearmed, and the better you understand these tests, the better chance you’ll have of passing them. Contact us to learn more!