Choosing Between Different Drug Test Panels

Drug testing is an effective way to detect substance abuse. It is the first step to help someone become drug-free and regain control over their lives. There are many types of drug tests available on the market, some of which have the ability to detect up to 16 drugs of abuse at once.

Methods of Drug Testing

A urine test cup has the appearance of a small container with a sealable twist cap. Panels are built into the sides for color-coded results.

An oral fluid device is a palm-sized box or "lollipop". Some tests include a color collection indicator to ensure a sufficient sample is obtained.

A hair follicle drug test can be conducted at home or in the workplace. Each test kits includes a foil pouch and laboratory analysis.

12 Panel Amedicheck CLIA Urine Drug Test Cup-TestCountry

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Single Panel Drug Test

A single panel drug test is usually available in dip card format. These tests are the most economical drug testing option. A single panel drug test should provide accurate qualitative results within minutes.

Single panel drug tests are designed for very specific screening needs. Single panel drug tests can detect 25 different drug metabolites, including synthetic drugs of abuse. They are applicable in any industry but are mainly used in clinical and addiction treatment centers as a complement to an existing drug testing method.

2-Panel Drug Test

2-panel drug tests are just as quick and affordable as a single panel drug test. Two specific drugs of abuse can be detected with a dip card, such as the 2-Panel DrugConfirm Advanced Urine Drug Test Dip Card.

This type of test is applicable in treatment centers but can be used in school settings where particular drugs of abuse are a concern. 2-panel drug tests are also ideal for reasonable suspicion and personal use.

3-Panel Drug Test

A 3-panel drug test is another type of rapid test designed for qualitative substance abuse detection. Drug tests with three panels are most commonly available in dip card and collection cup formats. The 3 Panel E-Z Split Key Cup CLIA Waived Urine Drug Test Cup is an integrated test cup with the fewest drug test panels that still provides CLIA certification at a very low cost.

In addition, split specimen drug testing provides the added insurance of being able to send a preliminary positive to a laboratory for confirmation testing with the remaining preserved specimen.

4-Panel Drug Test

4-panel drug tests are sold by several reliable suppliers; however, 4-panel drug tests are usually only provided in the form of drug test cups and dip cards.

Among the most popular 4-panel drug tests is the 4-Panel iCup Urine Drug test Cup with Adulterants. iCup is a well-known manufacturer of drug tests used in staffing and recruiting, as well as within laboratories and research centers.

Many 4-panel urine tests include built-in adulteration and temperature strips to prevent the tampering of urine specimens from donors who are trying to cheat their drug test.

What is a 5-Panel Drug Test?

Once you start looking at 5-panel drug test options, i.e. NIDA 5 drug test, SAMHSA drug test, the selection becomes much more diverse. 5-panel drug tests are available in many formats and can identify drug metabolites contained in urine, saliva, and hair specimens. While there are different configurations available, the most commonly sought 5-panel drug tests screen for SAMHSA 5 and NIDA 5 drugs of abuse.

What is a NIDA 5 Drug Test?

A NIDA 5 drug test is mandatory for substance abuse detection to maintain compliance with the Department of Transportation (DOT). These drug tests detect:

  • Amphetamines (AMP)
  • Cocaine (COC)
  • Opiates (OPI)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Marijuana (THC)

NIDA 5 drug tests must be calibrated and tested for accuracy since they are often used for pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, return to duty, and post-accident drug testing.

If looking to implement a drug testing program, a 5-panel drug test may be the most appropriate option for your organization. SAMHSA 5 and NIDA 5 drug tests are also used by government institutions like correctional facilities and probation courts.

6-Panel Drug Test

Like the 5-panel drug test, a 6-panel drug test offers more in terms of flexibility with the type of specimen and the combination of panels. A 6-panel drug test is available in the form of collection cups, dip cards, oral fluid devices and hair drug tests.

6-panel saliva tests are increasingly popular in the workplace for pre-employment screening and periodic drug testing. Saliva drug testing with the 6-Panel Oratect FDA Cleared Oral Fluid Device is often used by staffers and recruiters because of enhanced sanitation and difficulty adulterating specimens.

7-Panel Drug Test

Although not as popular as other drug test panels, 7-panel drug tests can also screen urine, saliva, and hair specimens. The most commonly used 7-panel drug test is the 7-Panel SalivaConfirm Premium Saliva Drug Test with Alcohol, which has the unique ability to test for imminent alcohol abuse anytime, anywhere.

It may be worthwhile to opt for a test that offers a higher number of built-in test panels. For a few extra cents, it becomes possible to instantly detect even more drugs of abuse.

8-Panel Drug Test

8-Panel drug test kits like the Alere iScreen Urine Drug Test Dip Card provide the accuracy and reliability as a 10-panel or 12-panel drug test. These tests are traditionally offered in dip card and test cup format, but 8-panel saliva drug tests do exist.

An 8-panel drug test may be applied within pain management centers and sober living homes; however, most sober homes will opt for a more comprehensive drug screen, especially for initial patient evaluations. The 8-panel drug test can be cost-effective and customizable for corporate drug testing programs as well.

9-Panel Drug Test

9-panel drug tests like the 9-Panel iCup Urine Drug Test Cup with Adulterants are not as common as 5, 10, or 12-panel drug tests. However, 9-panel urine drug tests are as accurate as any other urine drug test.

9-panel drug test kits are most commonly used within treatment centers and sober living facilities. They have the ability to test for many drugs of abuse at once while providing reliable results within minutes of use.

10-Panel Drug Test

A 10-panel drug test is one of the more commonly used panel options. 10-panel urine drug tests and 10-panel saliva drug tests are applicable in virtually every industry setting.

10-panel drug tests like the 10-Panel T-Cup CLIA Waived Urine Drug Test Cup with Adulterants are very versatile, and can screen for many different combinations of drugs. Most 10-panel urine drug tests will include built-in adulteration and temperature strips for additional protection against specimen adulteration.

12-Panel Drug Test

With a slight leg-up over 10-panel drug tests, a 12-panel drug test is fully customizable and up to 99% accurate. Results populate within minutes, and it is also possible to screen for synthetic drugs of abuse with a 12-panel drug test.

12-panel drug tests can screen urine, saliva, and hair specimens. This test is ideally suited for professional use within laboratories and clinical settings. Some 12-panel drug tests are also compatible with VacuConfirm Urine Transfer System*, a unique vacuum urine transfer system which eliminates leakage in transportation and maximizes efficiency in the protocol.

13-Panel Drug Test

13-panel drug tests and beyond are less frequently requested, as most people feel it is sufficient to screen for 10 or 12 drugs of abuse. However, 13-panel drugs tests like the 13-Panel DrugConfirm Urine Drug Test Cup irrefutably provide more coverage and robust prevention against substance abuse than 1-12 panel options.

13-panel drug tests are useful where zero-tolerance drug policies exist; under medical supervision, in a rehabilitation setting, and for candidate background screening. These tests are a bit more expensive since they offer a full scope of drug abuse, but at the end of the day, it could be worth it for your organization.

14-Panel Drug Test

14-panel drug tests like the 14-Panel DrugConfirm Advanced Urine Dip Card are ultra-comprehensive. Not surprisingly, 14-panel drug tests can identify more drug metabolites than any other drug test on the market. Anyone with direct access to narcotics such as hospital staff or veterinarians should be screened with a 14-panel drug test kit.

14-panel drug tests screen urine and saliva specimens, with urine drug testing being the most affordable option. However, innovations in drug screening have led to a greater demand for 14-panel saliva drug tests, which are the most inclusive saliva drug tests on the market. If interested in totally comprehensive saliva drug testing, try the 14 Panel SalivaConfirm Premium Saliva Drug test with K2 Spice, Alcohol and Fentanyl.

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+ What drugs do employers test for?

Almost any drug imaginable can be detected with a drug test. The most commonly tested drugs of abuse include:

  • Amphetamines (AMP)
  • Alcohol/EtG (ALC)
  • Barbiturates (BAR)
  • Benzodiazepines (BZO)
  • Buprenorphine (BUP)
  • Cocaine (COC)
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • EDDP
  • Fentanyl (FEN)
  • Gabapentin (GAB)
  • Ketamine (KET)
  • Lysergic Acid (LSD)
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Methadone (MTD)
  • Methamphetamine (mAMP)
  • Methaqualone (MQL)
  • Methylphenidate (MPD)
  • Morphine (MOR)
  • Opiates (OPI)
  • Oxycodone (OXY)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Propoxyphene (PPX)
  • Synthetic Marijuana (K2/K3)
  • Tramadol (TRA)
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA)

+ How many drug test panels do I need?

Clearly, there are myriad options to choose from when trying to select the number of panels to apply for your drug testing program.

Depending on the needs of your organization, it may be most suitable to apply a larger number of panels, like 8’s, 10’s, and 12’s, whereas lower panel options like single, 5’s and 6’s are the most cost-effective option for smaller organizations. At TestCountry, there’s never a shortage of drug tests to choose from.

It has become common in certain industries to have drug testing as required by federal law. In a 2006 study, roughly 84% of private companies required a pre-employment drug screen, since at least 70% of drug users are actively employed.

+ What industries require drug testing?

Some of the industries that require drug testing are:

  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Sports
  • Mining
  • Manufacturing

+ Which kind of drug test should employers use?

Drug testing should not be seen as an added cost or waste of time. In fact, it offers many measurable corporate advantages:

1. Safety 
A drug testing program improves safety and prevents workplace accidents. More than 50% of workplace accidents are related to substance abuse.

2. Productivity 
Sober employees work better without a doubt. Working with intoxicated colleagues is distracting and dangerous no matter what the industry setting may be.

3. Savings
Substance abuse in the workplace may lead to excess employee tardiness and sick days creating additional company expenses. A drug testing program identifies the source(s) of elevated expense claims.

4. Health
Sober employees are healthier and happier. A positive mindset allows employees to work optimally and deliver consistently effective outcomes.

5. Trust
Drug abusers have a high likelihood of stealing money from colleagues. Drug testing keeps crime at bay within the workplace.

+ What is the most commonly used drug test?

There are five common types of drug test:

  • Urine Drug Testing
  • Blood Testing
  • Sweat Testing
  • Hair Follicle Exams
  • Oral Fluid Testing

However, among these drug tests, urine drug test is most commonly used because it is the least expensive and the most convenient type of drug test.

A urine drug test (or urine drug screen) analyzes urine samples for the presence of certain illegal drugs and prescription medication.

Performing a urine drug test can help doctors detect potential substance abuse problems and come up with a treatment plan. Taking a urine drug test throughout the course of treatment helps monitor compliance and effectiveness of individual plans of care.

Innovations in drug testing have made it easier to administer a drug test. There are multiple panel options available to choose from, and the number of panels that can be contained in a standard drug test ranges from a single panel all the way up to 16 panels. However, too many options may make it difficult for you to choose what's best for your organization.

This panel breakdown guide should help you choose the most appropriate number of drug tests for your company drug screening policy.