What is being tested for in a workplace drug screening? That depends on what employers are looking for. It also depends on the drug testing company your employer hires to do the drug testing for employment. The most common employment drug tests can also be very different because of…

  • government regulations
  • cost
  • company drug testing policy
  • other factors

Many employers follow the federal government drug testing guidelines as required by (NIDA) the National Institute on Drug Abuse and (SAMHSA) the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. There are five categories of drugs that businesses test for. These five groups of drugs are called the “NIDA-5”.

  • Opiates (opium, morphine, heroin, codeine)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Amphetamines (methamphetamines, amphetamines, speed)
  • Cocaine (benzoylecognine, cocaine, crack)
  • Cannabinoids (hash, marijuana)


In recent years workplace substance abuse has grown beyond the 5 drug panel test of the NIDA-5 to include a 10 drug panel test. Companies drug test for more because of the increased abuse of the following drug categories.

  • Propoxyphene (Darvon compounds)
  • Benzodiazepines (Tranquilizers- Valium,Librium,Xanax,Diazepam,etc.)
  • Barbituates (Secobarbitol,Butalbital,Amobarbital,Phenobarbital,Pentobarbital)
  • Methaqualone (Qualuudes)
  • Methadone

Job seekers and employees should also be aware of these additional drug groups that employers test for.

  • Inhalents (Xylene,Benzene,Toulene)
  • LSD
  • Ethanol (alcohol)
  • Halluciogens (Mescaline,MDMA,MDA,MDE,Psilocybin)

workplace drug screening

Research shows that drug test methods will produce a drug false positive test. Not all positive drug tests are accurate. Here is a list of some of the over-the-counter drugs that can cause a false positive drug test result.

  • Vicks 44
  • Nuprin
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin,Advil)
  • Sudafed
  • Midol
  • Vicks nasal spray

These are a few, however there are a lot more. Because of this many drug testing companies want to know before the drug test what types of medications you have taken in the last month or so. It is important that the job seeker or employee remembers all of these drugs. If you have a false positive drug test, remember most employers don’t routinely do a confirmation test because it is more expensive.

For more info on false positives on drug tests and confirmations follow this link to workplace drug testing.


Methods for passing drug tests have become big business. Unfortunately job seekers and employees who are using or abusing drugs are gambling that these methods to pass a drug test will work.

Using niacin for drug tests is perceived to be a way to eliminate drugs from your body to pass a drug test for marijuana.

Learn more about niacin and drug tests by following this link.

niacin drug test

Drug testing companies will test not only for certain drugs but also test for what’s called masking drugs that can be added to get a clean urine drug test. When a urine sample is diluted it can produce a false negative urine test. Creatine is produced by the body to hold energy. Creatinine is a metabolite or waste product of creatine. If the creatinine levels of a job applicant or employee is low this causes employers to suspect a cheat on a drug test.

Everyone who may be drug tested should know about creatine and metabolites. Click these links to find out why.

pre employment drug testing

creatine drug test

workplace drug screening

(THC) Tetrahydrocannabinol is the active ingredient in marijuana and is one of the NIDA-5 drug groups. Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug and the most tested for in the workplace. Marijuana can be smoked, eaten and drunk as tea. Depending on the amount consumed THC can stay in your system for days, weeks or months.

If you apply for a job or already have a job, passing a THC drug screen will probably be required. Click on these links to find out why.

THC drug test

marijuana drug tests

Cocaine is another NIDA-5 drug that employers routinely test for. It is smoked, sniffed and injected by syringe or needle. A cocaine urine test usually can detect the drug for about 48-72 hours after one use. The body gets rid of cocaine through urine mostly as what’s called benzoylecgonine.

Benzoylecgonine is the main metabolite in cocaine so drug testing companies search for in a cocaine urine test. Follow this link to learn more about drug testing for cocaine.

cocaine drug test

Job seekers and employees should be concerned about passing a random drug test in the workplace. Employers are becoming more sophisticated and aggressive in requiring employees to submit drug testing at random. Many organizations like the (ACLU) American Civil Liberties Union are against random drug testing.

These groups believe random employee drug testing violates that employee’s rights to privacy. Learn more about how your privacy rights in the workplace may be affected by random drug testing programs by clicking this link.

workplace random drug testing

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