Urine Specimen Drug Testing
Urine drug testing can detect evidence of recent drug use or misuse. Drug use refers to using an illegal drug, like heroin or cocaine, while drug misuse refers to the use of medication in a manner that is unhealthy or differs from what is prescribed by a doctor.
The most common role of urine drug testing is to screen for drug use or misuse in the workplace. A urine drug test may be requested by an employer when screening job applicants, for periodic or random drug testing of employees, and when drug use is suspected based on symptoms or workplace accidents.
For patients taking prescription drugs that have the potential for misuse, a doctor may order a urine drug test to confirm that the patient is taking medication as prescribed. Some of the most commonly misused prescription drugs include opioids, central nervous system depressants used to treat anxiety and sleep issues, and stimulants used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Urine drug tests may detect the drug itself in the urine, a drug metabolite, or other biomarkers that suggest drug use or misuse. A drug biomarker is any measurable substance that is present after taking a drug. A metabolite is a type of biomarker that remains in the body as a drug is processed and broken down.
Urine drug tests detect evidence of recent or past drug use or misuse but typically cannot diagnose current intoxication or addiction. Drugs can be detected in the urine for a period of days, weeks, or months after use, depending on a variety of factors. These factors include the amount and frequency of drug use, as well as the rate at which the drug is metabolized and eliminated from the body.