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What is a 10-Panel Drug Test? 

A 10-panel drug test detects 10 different drugs in a person’s urine. This list includes pharmaceutical drugs, as well as street drugs. 

Employers, courts, and rehabilitation programs use these tests. 

Types of Drugs Screened in a 10-Panel Drug Test 

As the name indicates, a 10-panel drug test identifies 10 categories of drugs in a person’s system, including:

  • Amphetamines, including methamphetamine, Ritalin, and Adderall
  • Cannabis, including marijuana, hash, K2, spice, and synthetic marijuana
  • Cocaine, including regular and crack cocaine
  • Opioids, including heroin, codeine, opium, and morphine
  • Barbiturates, including downers, pentobarbital, and phenobarbital
  • Benzodiazepines, including Ativan, Librium, Xanax, and Valium
  • Other drugs like phencyclidine, methaqualone, methadone, and propoxyphene

These are the most commonly used/misused substances in the United States, not including alcohol. The 10-panel drug test does not test for alcohol.

It should also be noted that employer-requested drug testing can show the legal use of drugs prescribed by a doctor. 

If you test positive for a prescription drug, your employer might request a doctor’s note confirming the prescription. However, most employers screen for illegal drugs.

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Drug Detection Times 

The 10-panel drug test is a urine analysis test that detects a variety of different substances. Drug detection times vary greatly based on:

  • The drug used
  • Dosage
  • Individual metabolism
  • Frequency of use

Approximate detection times are as follows:

Amphetamines2 days
Barbiturates2 to 15 days
Benzodiazepines2 to 10 days
Cannabis3 to 30 days, depending on frequency of use
Cocaine2 to 10 days
Methadone2 to 7 days
Methaqualone10 to 15 days
Opioids1 to 3 days
Phencyclidine8 days
Propoxyphene2 days

A 10-panel drug test does not evaluate current impairment. The test looks for the presence of the metabolized drug or compounds in the body created from the drug.

Furthermore, the compounds must be in a certain concentration to be detectable. This makes false-negative results possible. Someone could be a frequent drug user and stop using drugs a month or two before a drug test and receive a negative test. 

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How to Prepare for the Test & What to Expect 

There are several things to expect during a 10-panel drug test. For example:

Before the Test

People undergoing a urine drug test must provide a substantial sample of urine, midstream, into a disposable, uncontaminated container.

In the days before the test, it’s important to avoid alcohol and drugs, and eat a moderate diet with a normal fluid intake. What you eat has a significant impact on your urine sample. For example, eating a lot of meat reduces the pH of your urine, while dairy elevates the pH.

While you need to drink enough to produce a sufficient sample for the test, don’t drink excessively. Doing so dilutes your urine and makes it more difficult to test.

Avoid excessive standing or straining before providing a sample. This can increase the risk of orthostatic proteinuria. It’s also important to abstain from sexual intercourse for at least 24 hours before testing. This is because the presence of sperm prevents an accurate urine assessment. 

It’s also best to avoid testing during menstruation and for two days before and after. The presence of red blood cells makes it impossible to obtain reliable results. 

During the Test

Ideally, you’ll submit the first urine produced in the morning because it reduces the risk of proteinuria, but this isn’t necessary. You should wash your hands and genitals before testing and take the sample mid-stream.

In some cases, the technician takes additional measures to avoid contamination of the sample. For example, they might:

  • Turn off the tap water and secure all other sources of water
  • Put blue dye in the toilet bowl or tank
  • Remove soap or other substances
  • Measure the temperature of your urine sample
  • Conduct a site inspection before collecting the sample

After the Test

Once you submit your sample, the lab tech labels it and delivers it to the collection point/testing location as soon as possible. Refrigeration might be necessary. 

Test results are usually available within a few days, but in some cases results are immediate. Labs return negative tests faster than positive ones because there is no need for follow-up testing. 

How to Analyze Test Results

Some tests offer immediate results and others require more comprehensive lab analysis.

Positive Results

A positive 10-panel drug test indicates that one or more of the 10 drugs in the panel were detected in a certain concentration by the test.

If you undergo a drug test that results in a positive reaction, the sample is usually retested using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). This is to confirm the initial positive result.

If you took the test for employment purposes and the second screening is positive, it usually results in a call to you from a medical review officer. The 10-panel drug test tests for several legal drugs, as well as prescription substances. If you have a doctor’s prescription for the drug in question there is no need to notify your employer of the positive result. 

Negative Results 

A negative 10-panel drug test indicates that none of the 10 drugs in the panel were detected in a large enough concentration to create a positive result. This might mean there are no drugs in the subject’s system or that the concentration is so little that it’s negligible.

Negative tests are submitted to your employer, the court, or a rehabilitation program without any need for further testing.

Inconclusive Results

Inconclusive or invalid results mean the test was unsuccessful in checking for any of the 10 drugs. Usually, this occurs because the test sample was corrupted. 

For example, people undergoing a urine drug test should avoid testing during menstruation or within 24 hours after engaging in sexual intercourse.

Resources

MORE
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  1. Drug Testing.” www.samhsa.gov, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Commonly Used Drugs Charts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 20 Aug. 2020.
  3. Urine Drug Testing.” CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. Moeller, Karen E., et al. “Clinical Interpretation of Urine Drug Tests.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 92, no. 5, May 2017, pp. 774–796.
  5. Moeller, Karen E., et al. “Urine Drug Screening: Practical Guide for Clinicians.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 83, no. 1, Jan. 2008, pp. 66–76, 10.4065/83.1.66.
  6. Drug Testing: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information.” Medlineplus.gov, 2017.
  7. Gehringer, Christian, et al. “Accuracy of Urine Flow Cytometry and Urine Test Strip in Predicting Relevant Bacteriuria in Different Patient Populations.” BMC Infectious Diseases, vol. 21, no. 1, 25 Feb. 2021, p. 209, 10.1186/s12879-021-05893-3.

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