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Drug Screening Process: How to Take Tests & What Happens

How Does the Drug Testing Process Work?

When navigating the hiring process at a new company, your potential employer may extend a job offer that is contingent on your ability to pass a background check and a drug test. While you’ll be excited to receive the offer, you’ll also likely be curious about what happens during a drug test


The drug screening process is very straightforward and simple to complete. While you’ll need to travel to the testing site and may need to spend some time in the waiting room until you’re called in, the test itself only requires a few minutes of your time. 


Read on to learn more about what you can expect during the drug testing process.

Urine Drug Test: What to Expect

When an employer asks you to take a drug test, you’ll likely be required to visit a pre-approved lab that has been selected by your employer. You’ll have 48-hours from the time the employer informs you of the test to complete it. In most cases, the labs accept walk-ins so there is no need to call ahead for an appointment. These facilities typically do hundreds of drug tests a day, so you may find that there is a wait.


The employees at these facilities are highly trained to follow specific procedures that ensure the accuracy and integrity of each sample that’s collected. If you’re wondering, “what is a drug test like?” you should know that these procedures are standard and identical between collection sites, so you should expect to have a similar experience regardless of what lab you go to. 

How to Take a Drug Test

When you arrive at the lab to begin the drug test process, you’ll be required to show a valid photo ID and sign off on the paperwork. Once a lab employee is ready to collect your sample, you’ll be asked to remove any outerwear such as a coat or hat and to leave your backpack or purse in the designated area. The employee will then give you specific instructions on how to take drug test.


First, you’ll be asked to wash your hands to prevent contaminating the sample. You’ll then be given a wipe to use to clean your genital area and a container for your urine sample.


There will be markers on the container to indicate how much urine you’ll need to provide. During the drug screening process, you won’t be permitted to flush the toilet or use the sink until the employee has possession of your sample and has inspected the room. The toilet water is typically dyed blue and the taps are either shut off or taped to ensure you can’t dilute or otherwise tamper with the sample. 

How to Prepare for the Test

Very little preparation is needed prior to the drug screening process. You’ll need to bring a valid photo ID to confirm your identity and any paperwork that may have been given to you by your employer. 


Before you go to the collection site to provide a sample, you should review your medications and supplements as some of them can generate a positive result on the test. Be prepared to tell the lab if you take any prescription medications, any over-the-counter medications, herbal treatments, or supplements. In some cases, the lab may ask for proof from a physician that you’re using a particular medication, so it’s a good idea to call ahead if this applies to you.


You should also drink a few extra glasses of liquid an hour or two before the test so you’ll be able to provide the sample. 

About the Results

Your test results may come back in as soon as a few hours after you’ve provided the sample, and in other cases, you may need to wait several days. Because positive results require further testing, negative results are usually reported faster. 


After a positive result, the lab will test the other half of your urine sample to confirm the findings. The results of both tests need to match to be conclusive. If they don’t match, you’ll likely be contacted by the lab and asked to provide another sample. When your sample tests positive, an employee from the lab will contact you to explain the results.

Extra Info to Know About a Drug Test

Urinalysis tests will only produce a positive result if there is a certain level of the drug in your body, so you don’t need to worry if you ate a poppyseed or cocoa. It’s normal for people to consume small, legal amounts of some of the substances or even to encounter a certain level of secondhand smoke, so using these cut-off level standards helps to prevent false positives results.


The amount of time that a given drug will stay in your body depends on several factors, including the type of drug you used, your total body mass, your hydration level, the acidity of your urine, and how frequently you use the drug. 

Want to Learn More About the Drug Testing Process? We Can Help!

When you’re required to take an employment drug test, you should expect a simple process that only takes a short amount of time to complete. If you need to know more about how to take a drug test or what to expect, Countrywide Testing has a large selection of products and resources that can give you the information you need.