Drug Testing
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Not All Drug Tests Are Created Equal

Several factors can determine if a drug can be detected in a drug test, at what levels, and how far back in the past. Some of these factors include:

  • Chemical properties of the drug
  • Metabolic rates and excretion routes
  • Amount, administration route, frequency, and chronicity of the dose consumed
  • Variations in clients’ physical health, exercise, diet, weight, gender, and fluid intake

Urine drug and alcohol screenings are the most common type of testing. Most drugs can be detected for about 2 to 4 days in urine. However, if a person takes a higher dose over more extended periods of time, the likelihood of detection will increase. Substances accumulate in the body with continued use and therefore can have a longer detection window. Chronic use of drugs such as marijuana, PCP, and benzodiazepines may be detectable for up to 30 days, whereas alcohol remains in the system for 24 hours or less.

Different drugs have different detection windows in a urine test. Some drugs remain in the system for only a few days such as amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, casual marijuana use, and opiates. Other drugs – such as benzodiazepines, ecstasy, chronic marijuana use, and PCP – can stay in a person’s system even longer.

Urine drug screens are used to screen for recent drug use, but there are other options for different windows of detection. A hair test will screen for substance use within the last three months, and a nail test can go back as far as six months. Alcohol is only detected in hair if, but only if, the person has consumed excessive amounts. For females, a binge drink is 3-4 drinks in an hour, and for males, it is 5-6 drinks in an hour. Saliva drug screens and breath alcohol tests only detect substance use within the last 12-24 hours. These tests are used to confirm observed impairment or behavior showing signs of impairment.

With all these variations, ARCpoint Labs of Woburn can guide you in choosing which test is appropriate for your company’s drug testing program. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (781) 546-4620 or visit ARCpoint Labs of Woburn.