By the Numbers: Drug Detection Window by Specimen Type

by Nicole Jupe on December 5, 2016

Our ongoing By the Numbers series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, and data that impact workplace drug testing programs. This week, we examine one of the most frequently asked questions we receive as a laboratory: how long can drugs be detected using a drug test? The answer is not simple as you might think, because each drug test type has a different drug detection window.

In our industry, we call the time period from when a drug is taken to when there is no longer evidence of drug use in a specimen (i.e. the drug test is no longer positive) the drug detection window or detection time frame. The length of time a drug is detectable in the human body depends on factors such as the specific drug, usage patterns (e.g., dose and frequency), individual biological variability, and cutoff. For that reason, we provide general guidelines, or estimations, for the detection windows of the most trusted and prevalent workplace drug testing specimen types—urine, oral fluid, and hair.

  • Urine drug testing is the most commonly used testing method. It detects recent or new drug use, typically in the previous one to three days. Urine testing is suitable for all testing reasons and detects the broadest variety of illicit and prescribed drugs (i.e., prescription drugs, for which their use or misuse could impact workplace safety).
  • Oral fluid drug testing is the next most common screening method used by employers and detects recent drug use in the previous 24-48 hours (24-36 hours for THC). Unlike urine testing, oral fluid testing is primarily used to detect illicit drugs. Because collections are observed, it is drug test collection method that is very difficult for a donor to adulterate or substitute their specimen.
  • Hair drug testing provides a much longer detection window, giving a more complete drug-use history that shows a pattern of repetitive use as far back as 90 days. Like oral fluid testing, hair testing offers the benefit of an observed collection which is not easily adulterated or substituted.

The specific goals of your workplace drug testing program and the duties of your employees determine if your organization screens for both very recent drug use and longer term patterns of repetitive use. When various test types are used in combination with each other, employers can deploy a more comprehensive screening of job applicants and employees for both very recent drug use and longer term patterns of repetitive use. Ultimately, this versatility adds effectiveness to the program because the employer selects what solutions match their distinct situations, specific needs, and reasons for testing.

Download our Guide to Establishing a Workplace Drug Testing Program.

To learn more about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

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Shortage of Drug-Free Job Applicants

by Nicole Jupe on December 2, 2016

dti-drug-testing-chartMany businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to find applicants who can pass a pre-employment drug test. According a recent article in Briefings magazine, “the country has a growing drug problem, and it is spilling over into the workplace in ways many companies doing large-scale hiring have not anticipated.”

Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics, told Briefings that in different markets, employers are finding it increasingly difficult to identify people through their screening who are not using drugs.

The latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) analysis revealed a 10-year high for overall positivity in the combined U.S. workforce and the fifth straight year of increases in detection rate of amphetamine, heroin, and marijuana. Media, government, and other research sources echo the DTI’s insights about the trend of escalating drug use in America. For example:

Substance abuse in the workplace costs employers billions of dollars annually with negative impacts such as higher absenteeism, lower productivity, and a greater risk for accidents or injury. As the country faces a mounting drug problem, drug-free workplace programs attempt to filter out drug users and deter substance abuse in the workforce.

Read the full Briefings article: A Test That Too Many People Fail.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

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Gain the eCCF Advantage Webinar Highlights

November 18, 2016 eCCF

In Tuesday’s webinar, experts from Quest Diagnostics shared the benefits of using electronic custody and control forms (eCCF) in federally-regulated drug testing. Charlie Sullivan, Director of Collection Services, and Barbara Rowland, Director of Laboratory Operations, discussed the due diligence it took for Quest to gain HHS National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) approval and the impacts […]

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Advocating for a Drug-Free School

November 17, 2016 Drug Testing

St. James Academy High School is a private Catholic school located in Johnson County, KS that is pursuing a drug-free environment for learning. As part of its health and wellness program, the school performs random drug and alcohol testing on its students. The school works in partnership with parents so they feel informed and involved […]

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By the Numbers: Customer Support

November 11, 2016 By the Numbers

Our By the Numbers blog series takes a closer look at the numbers, facts, data, and outputs that impact workplace drug testing programs. In this post, we look at the numerical values that enable our Customer Support team to serve our customers effectively. Improving the customer experience is the top priority of our Customer Support team. Our Customer Support […]

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Webinar: Navigating Global Drug Testing

November 10, 2016 International testing

Drug use is prevalent throughout the world. According to the 2015 World Drug Report, an estimated 246 million people have used an illicit drug in 2013 and about 27 million people suffer from drug addiction. For that reason, drug testing is crucial for international businesses when hiring new applicants or making decisions about current employees. In the […]

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What happens after November 8?

November 7, 2016 Drug Testing

During this election season, our news feeds, televisions, inboxes, and water cooler conversations have been dominated by the 2016 race to the White House and the potential impacts our country will see with new leadership. This heightened awareness has transformed into what some mental health professionals are now identifying as “election anxiety” for both Republicans […]

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Gain the eCCF Advantage Webinar

November 4, 2016 eCCF

It’s not too late to get the inside scoop on what you need to know to easily integrate eCCF into your drug testing program by attending our upcoming webinar called “Gain the eCCF Advantage.” Join us on Tuesday, November 15 at 1 p.m. CT as Quest Diagnostics drug testing experts, Charlie Sullivan, Director of Collection […]

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I’m There: Eric Werly

November 2, 2016 We're There

The finance department supports goals that are vital to the success of Employer Solutions. As a contributing member of the department, Eric Werly and his we’re there spirit go far beyond opening and closing the books each month. His mindfulness helps him  provide thoughtful insights for decision makers in our  business and our customers. In […]

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Time Tested Technology

October 28, 2016 Online Solutions

Advances in technology can bring benefits such as greater efficiencies as well as time and cost savings to businesses. The drug testing industry is no exception. Developments in information technology (IT) over the last several years have brought about a number of online solutions including: ordering, collection site locators, appointment scheduling, status tracking, and test […]

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