Federal Guidelines for Drugsof Abuse Testing

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Drug-testing programs in the United States can be classified as mandatory or nonmandatory. In the first group (e.g., Department of Transportation), a regulated employer is required by federal regulation to test their employees for drugs of abuse. In the second category, employers choose to test their employee for reasons other than the federal requirements. Private employers who are not

Table 1

Window of Detection and Detection Limit of Abused Drugs

Table 1

Window of Detection and Detection Limit of Abused Drugs

Drug

Window

Screening cut-off

GC-MS confirmation cut-off

Amphetamine

2-3 d

1000 ng/mL

500 ng/mL

Methamphetamine

2-3 d

1000 ng/mL

500 ng/mL

Cocaine as

2-3 d

300 ng/mL

150 ng/mL

Benzoylecgonine

100 ng/mL for Military

Marijuana metabolites

2 d-3 wk

20, 50-100 ng/mL

15 ng/mL

Opiate metabolites

2-3 d

2000 ng/mL*

2000 ng/mL*

6-monoacetylmorphine

10 ng/mL

Phencyclidine

8 d-3 wk

25 ng/mL

25 ng/mL

Benzodiazepines

3 or more d

300 ng/mL

300 ng/mL

Methadone

3 d

300 ng/mL

300 ng/mL

Methaqualone

2 wk

75 ng/mL

75 ng/mL

*The US Department of Health and Human Services has increased the cut-off for both screening and confirmation of opiates to 2000 ng/mL from 300 ng/mL in order to avoid false-positives caused by ingestion of food containing poppy seeds. GC-MS, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

*The US Department of Health and Human Services has increased the cut-off for both screening and confirmation of opiates to 2000 ng/mL from 300 ng/mL in order to avoid false-positives caused by ingestion of food containing poppy seeds. GC-MS, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

mandated to test under federal authority have instituted employee drug-testing programs in order to create a drug-free workplace. In fact, in 1986, President Reagan issued Executive Order No. 12564, directing all federal agencies to achieve a drug-free work environment. Guidelines for DOA testing were then developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, formerly The National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA]) and became the gold standard for all drug-testing programs to follow. The overall testing process under mandatory testing consists of proper collection of specimen, initiation of chain of custody, and final analysis of specimen. Immunoas-says are available for quick screening of abused drugs in urine. This must be performed with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved methods. Positive screening results must then be confirmed by a SAMHSA-certified laboratory using gas chromatography(GC)-mass spectrometry (MS). The cut-off values for DOA testing are included in Table 1.

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