I. What Is 10-Panel Drug Testing?

Substance abuse can lead to impairment, respiratory problems, irregular heart rate, and seizures. It’s a complex issue that sets the United States back more than $600 billion in health care, criminal justice, and lost productivity costs each year. Testing can help parents, employers, and family members know if you’re clean.

Why should you get tested

Drug panels check whether you’ve taken an illicit substance to help ensure your health and the safety of others. It’s also used to determine if treatment is needed for a substance abuse problem.

Who should get tested

You may be asked to take a 10-panel drug test by an employer, college athletic program, hospital, substance abuse treatment center, court, law enforcement official, or insurance company.

When to get tested

Drug panel tests may be used after accidents, as part of monitoring for treatment programs, and as a condition of employment. You may also be tested if you show symptoms of substance abuse when admitted to a hospital.

Reasons why drug testing may be required:

A 10-panel drug test may be required by an employer as part of:

  • A pre-employment application: Employers may require you pass a 10-panel drug test as part of a conditional offer of employment.
  • A return-to-duty: If you have been absent from the workplace for an extended period of time, you may need to take a drug test before returning to work.
  • A post-accident review: Drug tests may be required after a workplace accident to determine if drug use was a contributing factor in the accident.
  • A reasonable suspicion investigation: Employers can require drug panel testing if there is reasonable suspicion based on observable signs that drug use has occurred in the workplace.
  • A periodic evaluation: Employers can also conduct periodic drug tests as part of a regular evaluation schedule, such as part of annual reviews.
  • A random evaluation: Employers can do random drug tests without prior notification.

II. How to Prepare for 10-Panel Drug Testing

Drug panel tests are typically performed using a urine sample. There’s no preparation required, although you should avoid drinking too much water beforehand. Your employer may also give you specific instructions on how to prepare and items you should bring with you to the test.

The test may take place:

  • At a laboratory
  • At your workplace, under the supervision of a test administrator
  • At home, using a home test kit available for purchase on some websites

If you’re taking your test at home, take care to read all instructions beforehand and make sure the label says the test is designed to identify the drug you want to test for. Your kit should include instructions along with a collection cup and the test itself.

Some foods or medications can cause you to test positive, so you should let the test administrator know about any medicines or supplements that you take.

You usually must give permission to be tested for drugs, although this may not be necessary after an accident.

III. How a 10-Panel Drug Test Works

Drug tests can be performed using blood, saliva, sweat, and hair, but the most common method is through urine because it’s easy to collect.

Once you’ve taken a drug, your body’s metabolic processes begin to break the substance down, creating by-products called metabolites. These metabolites are eliminated from your body in your urine.

What a 10-panel drug test screens for

A 10-panel drug test checks for the presence of metabolites from these commonly misused substances:

  • Amphetamines: Meth, speed, ecstasy
  • Barbiturates: Butalbital, phenobarbital, secobarbital
  • Benzodiazepines: Alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam
  • Cocaine: Coke, crack
  • Marijuana: THC
  • Methadone: Opiate analgesic
  • Methaqualone: Quaaludes
  • Opiates: Codeine, morphine, opium, heroine
  • Phencyclidine: PCP, angel dust
  • Propoxyphene: Darvocet

How long can a 10-panel drug test screen for substances?

Metabolites only remain in your body for a certain length of time, and then the drugs are undetectable. The detection window for each substance varies, but it’s usually between one and four days for urine tests.

Substance Detection limit
Amphetamines 50 – 1000 ng/ml
Barbiturates 60 – 300 ng/ml
Benzodiazepines 30 – 300 ng/ml
Cocaine 20 – 300 ng/ml
Marijuana 25 – 50 ng/ml
Methadone 30 – 300 ng/ml
Opiates 40 – 2000 ng/ml
Phencyclidine 25 ng/ml
Propoxyphene 300 ng/ml

What to expect when you take a 10-panel drug test

You can take a 10-panel drug test at your work, at a clinic or at home. If you’re taking it outside of your home, there will likely be a technician to help guide you through the process. Sometimes this person will be with you in the bathroom while you provide the sample.

You should get a plastic container in a sealed, tamper-proof package to provide your sample. You’ll likely be directed to a single-stall bathroom with a full door to give the sample. Don’t be surprised if the water supply in the bathroom is turned off or if there is blue dye in the toilet. This is to prevent tampering with any urine samples. A technician may also inspect the site beforehand.

After you’ve peed up to the line indicated on the plastic container, put the lid back on the sample and hand it to the technician. He may record the temperature of your sample before securing the container in another tamper-proof package for transportation to the drug testing site.

Once you’ve completed the test, you can go about your usual activities. Urine tests have no side effects or post-test restrictions. If you complete your test at home and get a positive result, you may want to send the sample to a lab for confirmation. A second laboratory test can help ensure no foods, supplements or medicines affected your result.

IV. Understanding 10-Panel Drug Testing Results

Test results from labs are usually available within a few business days. Home test kits may provide immediate results.

  • A positive result indicates that one of the substances tested for was detected. Other tests may then be performed on the sample to obtain more detailed data.
  • A negative result indicates that none of the substances were detected in a high enough concentration.
  • An invalid result means that results aren’t available.

Ten-panel drug tests only indicate whether illicit substances have been found at a particular point in time. The results can’t tell if a person has used drugs in the past or how often drugs are used.

If you test positive, you may be referred to a physician, counselor, or substance abuse treatment center. Positive results usually get re-tested before the result is sent to your employer. This second test usually involves gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to confirm the substance in question is present.

If the second test is also positive, you may have the opportunity to speak with a medical review officer to discuss if you have a reasonable medical reason for having the substance in your system. After this, the results will be shared with your employer.

V. Learn From Our 10-Panel Drug Testing Sources

You can learn more about drug testing by visiting the following websites.