Can second-hand marijuana smoke result in a positive drug screen result?
No. Passive inhalation will not cause a positive drug screen result.
What are cleansing or purifying agents? Do they work?
Cleansing or purifying agents are advertised as being able to disguise or mask illegal substances which may show up during a urine drug screen analysis. Golden seal, Urinaid, and Klear are some of the most common agents that are either taken internally or added to the urine specimen at the time of the collection. These agents do not work. Laboratories currently test for such agents and declare the test “adulterated” if a foreign agent is detected.
What is a cold specimen? How is a cold specimen identified?
The normal temperature of a urine specimen is between 90-100 °. If a specimen’s temperature is below 90 °, the specimen is considered cold. Temperature is accurately recorded by a temperature strip which is a part of the specimen collection kit.
What is a dilute specimen? How can a dilute specimen be avoided?
A specimen with creatinine and specific gravity levels below laboratories’ minimum threshold is considered dilute. Unintentional or intentional consumption of excessive amounts of liquids prior to the urine drug screen may cause the specimen to be watery. Consequently, laboratories cannot produce conclusive results.
Are there prescription drugs that cause a positive urine drug test?
Drug tests are conducted to determine recent use of a drug. Results should be evaluated with respect to use of valid prescription medications that could be the cause of a positive drug test. If an individual has used a valid prescription for the drug, the employer or their designated Medical Review Officer may evaluate this before determining that the result is reported to the employer as “positive”.
What are the common drugs of abuse and how do they work?
While a legal drug, alcohol is often abused and habitual use can lead to addiction and significant physical and psychological health problems. Alcohol is rapidly metabolized by the liver into its principle chemical components including carbon dioxide and sugars. Alcohol is within the family of depressant drugs with symptoms including slurred speech, loss of motor coordination and impaired judgment. Alcohol is consumed primarily for its psychotic effects which include a loss of inhibitions and euphoria. Alcohol can only be detected through testing for a relatively short period due to its rapid metabolization and elimination. Generally, detectable levels of alcohol intoxication are gone within 12-18 hours. Consequently all alcohol tests must be performed during or shortly after consumption.
(AMP) Amphetamines are central nervous stimulants whose effects include alertness, wakefulness, increased energy, reduced hunger and an overall feeling of well being. Large doses and long term usage can result in higher tolerance levels and dependence. The most common source for amphetamine is the prescription diet pills (Phentermine).
(COC) Cocaine is made from coca leaves. Its effects include alertness, wakefulness, increased energy and an overall feeling of euphoria. Cocaine may be smoked, inhaled (“snorted”) or injected. Cocaine can be a very addictive drug. Cocaine is metabolized by the body into the chemical compound Benzoylecgonine.
(MET or M-AMP) Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug which is quickly metabolized to amphetamine. It is used in pill form or in powdered form by snorting or injecting. Crystallized methamphetamine is inhaled by smoking and is a considerably more powerful form of the drug. Some of the effects of methamphetamine use include: increased heart rate, wakefulness, physical activity and decreased appetite. Methamphetamine use can cause irreversible damage to the brain, producing strokes and convulsions, which can lead to death. Ecstasy, a new trendy and popular drug among teenagers is a refined and processed form of methamphetamine.
(OPI) Opiates are any of the addictive narcotic drugs derived from the resin of the poppy plant. Opiates are analgesics (pain reducers) which work by depressing the central nervous system. They can also depress the respiratory system. Doctors often prescribe them for severe or chronic pain. Opiates are very addictive, both physically and psychologically. Use for only a short time normally results in addiction. Some commonly used opiates are: Codeine, Darvon, Heroin, Methadone, Morphine, Opium, Percodan, Talwin, Dilaudid and Demerol. Opiates are commonly referred to as “downers”. Opiates can appear in many forms: white powder or crystals; small white, yellow or orange pills; large colorful capsules; clear liquid and dark brown, sticky bars or balls. Heroin accounts for the majority of the illicit opiate abuse. Some physical indications of opiate use include: extreme loss of appetite and weight, needle tracks or punctures, black and blue marks from “skin popping”, scars along veins, cramps, nausea, vomiting, excessive scratching and complaint of itching, excessive sweating, constipation, raw, red nostrils from snorting, runny nose, pin-point pupils and watery eyes, reduced vision, drowsiness, euphoria, trance-like states, excessive thirst, tremors, twitching, unkempt appearance, strong body odor, irritability, chills, slight hallucinations and lethargy. Opiates reduce attention span, sensory and motor abilities, produce irrational behavior, depression, paranoia, and other psychological abnormalities.
(OXY) Pharmaceutical drugs Percodan, Percocet, Roxicodone, Oxycontin. Oxycodone is a semi synthetic optiate derived from the opioid alkaloid thebaine. It is a Schedule II prescription drug for the control of moderate to severe pain that is related to morphine and hydrocodone. It may be prescribed in combination with other pain medications such as aspirin (Percodan) or acetaminophen (Percocet), or may be prescribed in time-released form (OxyContin). Abuse of prescription opiates such as oxycodone has sky-rocketed since the introduction of OxyContin in 1996. While classified as an Opiate, the chemical structure and metabolite of Oxycodone requires a separate Opiate test with a substantially higher sensitivity detection level than that of the standard Opiate drug test. Consequently, a positive test result will not only confirm Oxycodone but other opiates as well. In this regard the Oxycodone test is not Oxycodone specific but opiate specific being able to detect Oxycodone/opiate use at the higher sensitivity level required while the 2000 mg/ml sensitivity level of the standard opiate test would not detect Oxycodone. Oxycodone is generally prescribed in oral pill form with the analgesic buffer Acetaminophen.
(PCP) Phencyclidine hydrochloride (or PCP), also know as “angel dust,” is a hallucinogen. PCP is commonly taken orally, by inhalation, by snorting or by injection. The effects of this drug are unpredictable and variable. Users may exhibit signs of euphoria, anxiety, relaxation, increased strength, time / space distortions, panic or hallucination. PCP use can lead to paranoia and extreme irrational behavior. Once popular, PCP use has declined dramatically in recent years and is no longer considered a major drug of abuse.
(THC) Tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) is an active component in marijuana. Marijuana, a hallucinogen, is commonly ingested by smoking, but it may also be eaten. Marijuana may impair learning and coordination abilities. Marijuana is most commonly the drug of choice among teenagers and young adults. The hallucinogenic effect of Marijuana can lead to irrational behavior, disorientation, and paranoia. Low concentrations of THC persists in urine at a detectable concentration for many days after smoking. Marijuana is the most common recreational drug of abuse.
(BAR) Classified generally as depressants, barbiturates produce a state of intoxication that is remarkably similar to alcohol intoxication. Symptoms include slurred speech, loss of motor coordination and impaired judgment. Depending on the dose, frequency, and duration of use, one can rapidly develop tolerance, physical dependence and psychological dependence on barbiturates. Barbiturate abusers prefer the short-acting and intermediate-acting barbiturates pentobarbital (Nembutal), secobarbital (Seconal) and amobarbital (Amytal). Other short-and intermediate-acting barbiturates are butalbital (Fiorinal, Fioricet), butabarbital (Butisol), talbutal (Lotusate) and aprobarbital (Alurate). After oral administration, the onset of action is from 15 to 40 minutes and the effects last up to 6 hours.
(BZO) Also classified as depressants, benzodiazepines are used therapeutically to produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms and to prevent seizures. In general, benzodiazepines act as hypnotics in high doses, as anxiolytics in moderate doses and as sedatives in low doses. Like the barbiturates, benzodiazepines differ from one another in how fast they take effect and how long the effects last. Shorter acting benzodiazepines, used to manage insomnia, include estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion). Benzodiazepines with longer durations of action include alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), halazepam (Paxipam), lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam (Serax) and prazepam (Centrax). Abuse of Benzodiazepines occurs primarily because of the “high” which replicates alcohol intoxication. Approximately 50 percent of people entering treatment for narcotic or cocaine addiction also report abusing benzodiazepines.
(MTD) Although chemically unlike morphine or heroin, methadone produces many of the same effects. Methadone is primarily used today for the treatment of narcotic addiction. The effects of methadone are longer-lasting than those of morphine-based drugs. Methadone’s effects can last up to 24 hours, thereby permitting administration only once a day in heroin detoxification and maintenance programs. Ironically, methadone, used to control narcotic addiction, is a frequently abused narcotic, often encountered on the illicit market and methadone has been associated with a number of overdose deaths.
(MDMA) Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy) is a designer drug first synthesized in 1913 by a German drug company for the treatment of obesity. Those who take the drug frequently report adverse effects, such as increased muscle tension and sweating. MDMA is not clearly a stimulant, although it has, in common with amphetamine drugs, a capacity to increase blood pressure and heart rate. MDMA does produce some perceptual changes in the form of increased sensitivity to light, difficulty in focusing, and blurred vision in some users. Its mechanism of action is thought to be via release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. MDMA may also release dopamine, although the general opinion is that this is a secondary effect of the drug. The most pervasive effect of MDMA, occurring in almost all people who have taken a reasonable dose of the drug, is to produce a clenching of the jaws. Ecstasy is a popular “club” drug because it can reduce inhibitions, eliminate anxiety, and produce feelings of empathy. Symptomatic and biological responses to MDMA are similar to those produced by methamphetamine. Ecstasy is a designer methamphetamine frequently associated with Raves or the club scene.
(COT) Most experts and healthcare professionals agree that nicotine is unquestionably the most addictive drug in use today. The principle source of nicotine is tobacco products. Tobacco smoking or chewing results in the absorption of nicotine through the lung and buccal/nasal epithelium, after which nicotine is metabolized into 20 metabolites excreted in urine including the primary metabolite Cotinine. Cotinine metabolite is the primary marker for nicotine tests and tobacco use screening. Smoking has been confirmed as contributory factor to throat and lung cancer as well as other major health problems including heart disease. Chewing tobacco or use of “snuff”, the refined powder version of tobacco has been found to contribute to the development of oral cancers and tumors including other major diseases of the mouth and oral tissues.
(TCA) Tricyclic antidepressants have been prescribed since the 1950s for depression and compulsive disorders. Until recently TCAs were the primary choice of physicians for the vast majority of people with major depressive disorders. Ironically TCAs are often prescribed for symptomatic treatment of drug addiction and withdrawal and in particular, alcoholism. Tricyclic antidepressants work by raising the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain by slowing the rate of reuptake, or re-absorption, by nerve cells. Usually TCAs are taken over an extended period as results from the drugs are gradual. Because of the possibility of causing serious cardiac complications, TCAs can be lethal if misused at high doses. Abuse of TCAs can be the result of fear of relapse rather than any psycho-pharmacological effect however the potential for TCA abuse is well established, since the drugs have clearly defined euphoric psychological and stimulatory physiological action in cases of chronic usage. Generic and brand names of the tricyclic antidepressants include Adapin, Amitriptyline, Amoxapine, Asendin, Desipramine, Doxepin, Elavil, Imipramine, Ludiomil, Maprotiline, Norpramin, Nortriptyline, Pamelor, Pertofrane, Protriptyline, Sinequan, Surmontil, Tofranil, and Vivactil. Any comprehensive drug screening program should include a TCA panel.
What is my teenager likely to call these drugs?
Common street names for drugs:
Speed, amp, bennies, black beauties, chalk, uppers, hi, speed balls, beans, hiballs, beenie babies, eve
Crystal, meth, ice, glass, speed, icebergs, bergs, ecstasy, MDEA
Coke, crank, snow, flake, crack, blow, rock, line, snuff, sugar, snort, stones
Pot, weed, herb, bud, MJ, doobie, reefer, joint, blunts, grass, rope, hemp, roach
Angel dust, sherms, star dust, magic dust, dust, silver/gold glitters
Horse, smack, hairy hombre, H, scag, jones, fix
Downers, uppers, highway, lows, reds, barbs, trangs
G, Liquid X, Liquid E, Scoop, Soap, Gook, Grievous Bodily Harm, Georgia Home Boy, Natural Sleep-500, Easy Lay or Gamma 10
roofies, Roche, R-2, rib and rope, rophies
In general, what are the drug detection periods for the most abused drugs and how long after use can drug tests detect drug presence or use?
Drug of abuse testing by blood, urine, saliva or any other method (except forensic hair analysis) is designed only to detect whether or not a specific drug or drug metabolite is present at the time the test is performed. While there are very broad estimates as to how long a particular drug may have been in the system, no drug test, regardless of method, is intended to include a time variable. Many factors unique to the individual being tested determine the actual half-life of the particular drug including such variables as age, weight, body fat index, sex, metabolic rate, overall health and amount of drug consumed over what period of time. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn as to when a particular drug was taken or how much was consumed with any type of drug of abuse test.
The following chart illustrates typical drug detection periods. For reasons noted, the range stated is necessarily broad. Generally however, chronic use of high potency drugs by individuals with a high body fat count, low metabolism rate (older) and in poor general health will place drug clearance periods at the higher range. To re-emphasize, it should be clearly understood that drug tests are not intended to determine when drugs were used, only whether the drug screened for is present at the time the test is performed. If it is desirable to screen for historical drug use, a forensic laboratory hair analysis test is available that will screen for illicit drug use up to 90 days dependent on hair sample length. It should also be clearly understood that complete abstinence from the target drug is required from the start of the “minimum” to the end of the “maximum” detection period to clear the user’s system completely.
Typical Drug Detection/Clearance Times
Target Drug Minimum Maximum
Alcohol 0-4 hours < = 6-12 hours
Amphetamines 2-7 hours 2-4 days
Anabolic Steroids 4-6 hours Oral: 2-3 weeks / Injected: 1-3 months (Naldrolene 8 months+)
Barbiturates 2-4 hours Short acting type (Alphenal, Amobarbital, Allobarbital, Butethal, Secobarbital) 1-4 days. Long acting type (Phenobarbital, Barbital) 2-3 weeks or longer
Benzodiazepines 2-7 hours Infrequent user: 3 days / Chronic user: 4-6 weeks
Cannabinoids (THC-Marijuana)* 6-18 hours *Infrequent user: up to 10 days / Chronic user: 30 days or longer
Cocaine Metabolite 1-4 hours 2-4 days
LSD 2 hours 1-4 days
Mescaline 1-2 hours 2-4 days
Methadone 2 hours 2-6 days
Methamphetamines 1-3 hours 2-4 days
Methaqualone 3-8 hours Up to 10 days
MDMA (Ecstasy) 1 hour 2-3 days
Nicotine (Tobacco)** 4-6 hours **Infrequent user: 2-3 days / Chronic user: 7 to 14 days
Opiates (Heroin, Morphine, Codeine) 2 hours 2-3 days
Oxycodone 1 hour 1-2 days
Phencyclidine (PCP)* 5-7 hours *Infrequent user: 6-8 days / Chronic user: 21-28 days+
Propoxyphene 4-6 hours 1-2 days
Psilocybin (Mushrooms) 2 hours 1-3 days
Rohypnol 1 hour < = 8 hours
GHB 1 hour < = 8 hours
Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA) 8-12 hours 2-7 days
* THC and PCP in particular are stored by the system in the fatty lipid tissue and are gradually released into the blood stream until cleared. For chronic users with a high body fat count, this process can take several weeks.
** Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs known. Consequently most users of nicotine are chronic users by default. Nicotine consumption includes all forms of the drug including tobacco, snuff, transdermal patches and gum.
If a drug test is positive, can you determine how long ago the drug was taken and over what period of time?
No. Drug of abuse testing by blood, urine, or saliva can only detect whether or not a specific drug or drug metabolite is present at the time the test is performed. While there are very broad estimates (see chart above) as to how long a particular drug may have been in the system, no fluid based drug test, regardless of method, is intended to include a time variable. Many factors unique to the individual being tested determine the actual half-life of the particular drug including such variables as age, weight, sex, metabolic rate, overall health, amount of drug consumed over what period of time, etc. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn as to when a particular drug was taken or how much was consumed with these types of drug of abuse tests. A forensic hair core analysis for drugs can be utilized to determine historical drug use up to 90 days.
Where can I go for more information?
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD)
22 Cortlandt Street
New York, NY 10007-3128
Phone: 1-800-NCA-CALL (1-800-622-2255)
Fax: (212) 269-7510
Web Address: http://www.ncadd.org
NCADD provides facts and scientific information about alcohol and drugs and related health issues, with specific resources for parents and youth. The organization also has a national intervention network and provides information about treatment programs and prevention.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
5635 Fishers Lane, MSC 9304
Bethesda, MD 20892-9304
Phone: (301) 443-3860
1-800-729-6686 (National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information)
Web Address: www.niaaa.nih.gov
NIAAA provides pamphlets, brochures, and referral information about alcohol use problems. Information can be obtained by writing or calling or by printing it from the Web site.
Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters
1600 Corporate Landing Parkway
Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617
Phone: 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) for meeting information
Fax: (757) 563-1655
Web Address: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/
Al-Anon is a support group and self-help program for family members and friends of people with alcohol and drug use problems. The program is based on the same principles as AA. Phone numbers for local offices are listed in area telephone books.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) World Services
P.O. Box 459
New York, NY 10163
Phone: (212) 870-3400
Web Address: www.aa.org
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a support group and self-help program for recovery from alcohol use problems as well as other substance abuse problems. Meetings are available in most communities at various times. Meetings can be “open” (for the person and his or her family) or “closed” (for the person only). Special groups for women, teens, and gay/lesbian people may be available in some areas. AA provides written information on the program of recovery. Phone numbers for local offices are listed in local area phone books.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Alcohol and Public Health
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
Web Address: www.cdc.gov/alcohol/index.htm
This Web site provides information about excessive alcohol use, including underage and binge drinking. The Web site offers resources and educational materials on alcohol abuse.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
P.O. Box 2345
Rockville, MD 20847-2345
Phone: (240) 276-2420 substance abuse prevention
(240) 276-1660 substance abuse treatment
1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) toll-free referral help line
Web Address: www.samhsa.gov
SAMHSA provides information on substance abuse prevention and treatment. Its website is the gateway to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (www.samhsa.gov/prevention) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (www.samhsa.gov/treatment)