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Everything You Need to Know About a Urine Drug Test

Urine drug tests are used to look for any trace amounts of drugs that may be in a person's body. After the patient urinates into a sample cup, his or her urine is then tested for things like opioids, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana. While some companies opt for their job candidates to be drug-tested, for others it is a requirement, especially if that candidate will be working in a government job, or if driving will comprise a major part of his or her daily duties.

There are two types of urine drug tests that are used today. The first is called "immunoassay," and it is both cost-effective and fast-acting. However, immunoassay is not without its downsides. Sometimes, this type of test will yield a false positive result, and someone who is not taking any drugs whatsoever will "pop positive" for drugs. This can occur if someone has medicinal residue left over in his or her system from whatever drug he or she may have taken recently. It does not have to be an illicit drug to trigger such a result.

If a positive result occurs, then the patient must re-take the test. This is to double-check whether the result was accurate or a false positive. If the test comes out to be positive again on the second try, but the patient denies using any drugs, then the patient will be required to take a second urine drug test. This test is known as "gas chromatography/mass spectrometry," or GC/MS. This uses the same sample as the first test, and the good thing is that they rarely produce false positives. The downside, though, is that they are more expensive and can take longer to provide results.

No matter what drug is being tested for, the process for taking a urine test is the same as taking a drug test via a drug testing kit. The only difference is that, of course, a test kit may be used in a place that feels more comfortable or convenient for the patient, including in a doctor's office, at a hospital, or even in the patient's home or workplace.

The process involved in taking a urine drug test is a simple one. First, the person who is administering the test provides the patient with a specimen cup. The patient must leave all of his or her belongings in another room while he or she takes the test to ensure that the patient is not doing anything to skew the results, such as using a bag of someone else's urine or something equally dishonest. Some places even require the patient to change into a hospital gown first before taking the test.

For added insurance, a nurse or technician may accompany the patient into the bathroom. Before beginning the test, the patient is directed to clean his or her genital area with the moist cloth provided, then to start urinating into the toilet as normal. While urinating, he or she is directed to catch a sample of the urine into the cup midstream without letting the cup touch the genital area. When the test is complete, the patient brings the cup to the technician for processing.