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FAQs About Drug Testing

Whether you have an upcoming pre-employment screening or are administering a drug test, you may have a lot of questions. Drug tests are carefully crafted scientific tests with a lot of different pieces involved. Unless you are a laboratory technician or a chemist, you likely have many questions about how they work.

With such an important topic, we’ve whittled down all the whats and whys that pop up before drug tests and chose commonly asked questions and answers to your most burning drug screening questions.



Q: How much hair is needed for a hair follicle drug test?

Answer: Contrary to popular belief, a hair follicle test requires more than a simple strand of hair. The entire hair follicle test requires 100 milligrams of hair which equals 90 to 120 strands of hair. These are typically taken from different places in the individual’s head to avoid creating a bald spot.


Q: How long does a hair follicle test detect backward on drug use?

Answer: While the actual amount of time varies depending on the level of drug use and which drug has been taken, typically, hair tests can detect drug use as far as 90 days prior. Drug detection also varies depending on the kind of drug test you take.


Q: How long is the drug detection window for saliva tests?

Answer: Saliva testing is the least invasive and the least effective method of detecting drug use. It has a much smaller window of detection in comparison to urine and hair follicle testing. Its window of detection depends on the type of drug being detected and the level of use. Chronic users can expect drugs to stay in their system for longer than those who occasionally use them. Oral tests can typically detect drug tests for up to 48 hours.


Q: What is the drug testing window for urine tests?

Answer: Like saliva and hair tests, the detection window varies depending upon the level of use and the type of drug used. Typically, cannabis has the most extended window of detection in a urine sample. This testing window generally is between 3 and 30 days.


Q: Are drug tests painful?

Answer: Typically, the answer to this question is no. The only invasive drug test available is blood sampling, and these tests can be a tad uncomfortable for the average person. However, it’s unlikely that individuals will feel intense pain. The most a testee will experience is a slight pinch from the needle. Urine and saliva tests are among the least painful of administered drug tests and only involve placing a sample in a cup or swabbing the inside of a person’s cheek.


Q: Do false positives happen?

Answer: While they are exceedingly rare, false positives do happen. Drug tests typically have a two-step process. Samples are first divided in half, with the first sample being used for simple detection. The second sample is then used to verify the initial positive result. If you receive a positive result but haven’t taken any illegal substances, you may want to contact the laboratory that conducted your test. They will have you come in for an immediate re-test and to discuss your results.


Q: What drugs do screenings test for?

Answer: The drugs that screenings test for ultimately depends on the test and who has ordered testing. You can modify a drug screening to test for fewer or more drugs depending on the employer's need. For example, a 9-Panel urine test is more thorough and looks for drugs like benzodiazepines, but other urine tests will not. Typical drug tests check for the most commonly used substances, including cannabis, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamines, PCP, and amphetamines. Some tests also will look for barbiturates, methadone, MDMA, or ecstasy.


Q: Can a drug test be beaten?

Answer: This is one of the most common questions out there, and the answer is typically a resounding no. The most common method of attempting to best a drug test is to tamper with the test sample. Despite the assumption that you can hide the presence of drugs in your sample by adding water or chemicals, this is false. Lab technicians are well trained to detect any attempts to tamper with a drug screening, and the most likely scenario is that your drug test will be declared invalid, and you’ll have to retake the test.

A second standard method to ‘beat’ a drug test is to flush your system with water or over-the-counter solutions that claim to remove drugs from your system. Unfortunately, there is no science to back up most of these methods. Staying hydrated and keeping your metabolism working efficiently ultimately helps drugs pass from your system. Still the only surefire way to pass a drug test is to abstain from illegal substances in the first place.


Q: Why is a urine test the most common form of drug testing?

Answer: There are many options on the market, including saliva and hair testing. However, urine tests continue to be the most effective and convenient drug testing option for employers and other enterprises. This is because urine tests are inexpensive and convenient, with thousands of labs and companies offering customizable options across the country. Urine tests can also easily be altered to test for different types of substances depending on needs.


Q: Why do employers drug test?

Answer: When employees abuse drugs, it can increase a company’s liability and insurance costs. It can also lower an employee’s productivity and make workplace accidents more likely, which costs everyone time and money. A pre-employment drug screening can save employers lots of headaches and help eliminate the associated risks of drug abuse in the workplace.


Q: Does someone watch me during my test?

Answer: Not all urine tests are monitored, but often, drug tests will be monitored by an administrator. This is a particular case for when it is likely that the person taking the test may attempt to alter or tamper with the test.




Countrywide Testing

Drug testing is standard, but it is also a mysterious process that many people don’t always understand. If you have an upcoming drug screening or are an employer who is considering instituting pre-employment drug screening, Countrywide Testing can help.

We offer a variety of at-home drug tests and employer products to assist you as well as a wealth of resources to answer all your questions.

Shop our store now or call us at (469) 356-8607 to find the right product.