What Is a 5 Panel Drug Test?

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A 5 panel drug test looks for traces of the five most commonly abused drugs in urine, hair, oral fluid or fingernails. It can be returned rapidly and is often conducted before an offer of employment is made. It also may be required periodically by employers to ensure a drug-free workplace.

If you are applying for a new job or volunteer position, you may be asked to take a drug test as a condition of your offer. Tests are classified by the number of "panels" checked, each representing one tested drug. Common tests include the 5 panel drug test and 10 panel drug test.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

A 5 panel drug tests for traces of the five most commonly abused drugs in your urine, hair, oral fluid or fingernails.

What Is a Rapid 5 Panel Drug Test?

A rapid 5 panel drug test provides instant results for a urine-based drug test. These are ideal for hiring processes with a quick turnaround time. Like all 5 panel drug tests, rapid tests include the following drugs: cocaine (detected for two to 10 days after use or exposure), amphetamines (can be detected for two days in the body), opiates (which can be found in urine for several days after use), marijuana (remains detectable for three to 10 days after smoking) and PCP. Since these are considered the most habitually abused substances, these are nearly always the drugs included in this test.

The 5 panel drug test is recommended by the federal government’s Mandatory Guidelines for Workplace Drug Testing, and it is the most common urine-based drug test required by employers.

When Is the 5 Panel Drug Test Used?

Employers often require a 5 panel drug test before making an offer to an applicant. In addition, many companies and government agencies require retesting of this kind at periodic intervals or at random to ensure their employees are not taking drugs. Drivers for the federal Department of Transportation, for instance, must take random 5 panel drug tests throughout the course of their employment.

What Is Included in a 10 Panel Drug Screen?

A 10 panel drug screen is a test, usually conducted using a urine sample, that checks for 10 illegal substances. These include the five drugs included in the 5 panel drug test, as well as barbiturates (which have a two to 15 day detection window), benzodiazepines (two to 10 days), methaqualone (10 to 15 days), methadone (two to seven days) and propoxyphene (two days).

Before taking a urine-based drug test, you should avoid drinking excessive amounts of water, as this can dilute your sample. For all tests, you may be asked to provide your sample in a secure facility to ensure that no tampering occurs. In addition, you may need photo identification on hand to confirm your identity.


About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com) and enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.