A urine drug test is a laboratory analysis of a urine sample in order to determine the presence of a drug or its metabolite. Most drugs ingested by a person are eventually excreted out in the urine and so, urine testing is the best method to detect their presence. It is quick, inexpensive and very reliable.
A urine drug test does not detect the presence of the drug itself but it detects the presence of one of its metabolites. This is because whatever taken in by the body is processed and looks much different when it passes through. Like alcohol is oxidized and is passed out as water while marijuana is broken down into 11-nor-D-9-tetrahyrocanibinolic acid (THCA). Hence, urine drug testing looks out for these metabolites instead of the drug itself.
Why is a Urine Drug Test Conducted?
A urine drug test is mostly conducted to detect the presence of illegal drugs in the following scenarios.
- For employment purpose. Employers mostly use urine drug screening to make sure they don’t employ drug abusers in their company.
- In professional sports. Authorities use it to make sure the competitors aren’t using any performance enhancing drugs.
- For medical compliance. Phoenix pain management doctors use urine drug tests to make sure patients are being compliant with treatment.
- For law and order. It is usually conducted after an incident, crime or an accident to find out if any of the persons involved are drug abusers. This helps to determine liability.
How is a Urine Drug Test Carried Out?
First, the sample of the person’s urine is collected. The person is often required to collect the sample in the presence of an observer so that there is no chance for him to tamper the sample. A urine drug test is divided into two separate parts; one is the Urine Drug Screening and the other is the Urine Drug Testing.
- Urine Drug Screening: it is a qualitative test that confirms whether the drug is “present” or “not present”. It is also called immunoassay and is done by checking the reactions of the metabolites against other substances. For example, a certain drug or its metabolite may cause the urine to turn red when a certain substance is added to it. This is the first step in urine drug testing and if confirmed positive, the sample is then subjected to a detailed test. If negative, there is usually no need for further tests. Many employers and institutions only use the screening test to determine the presence of the drug.
- Urine Drug Testing: It is a quantitative test that determines the exact level of the drug or its metabolites. It is also called Gas Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry and referred to as a confirmation.
Effectiveness of Urine Drug Testing
Urine drug testing is more effective as urine provides a longer window for the detection of drugs or its metabolites as compared to blood. Most drugs can be screened within a period of 4 days to 30 days. However, the time frame differs for different drugs.
The qualitative screening takes only 5 minutes and is over 95% effective, but not 100%. The confirmations with mass spectrometry are very close to 100% accurate.
Limitations of Urine Drug Testing
Urine drug testing is not 100% effective and fool proof. Here are a few limitations of a urine drug test and how the results can be inaccurate.
- The sample can be easily tampered or switched with someone else’s urine.
- The urine sample can be diluted by drinking a lot of water.
- Many over the counter products and food ingredients are known that can lead to a false positive result (e.g. sesame seeds).
- Many home-made and commercially sold products are available that act as adulterants and are specifically made for manipulating the test results.
Thankfully, there are ways the urine tests can detect these adulterants. This helps detect cheaters. Most pain management doctors in Arizona utilize drug testing to protect the practice and the patient. The testing is part of effective pain treatment and helps patients get better.
For the best pain management Phoenix trusts, call Arizona Pain Specialists today. The pain clinics in Phoenix accept over 50 insurances at 5 locations with Board Certified, Award Winning pain doctors and chiropractors.
Call (602) 507-6550 for more information and scheduling.