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  • Also Known As:
  • 10-Panel Drug Screen
  • Drug Abuse Testing
  • Drug Screen
  • Drug Abuse Survey
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Test Quick Guide

The 10-panel drug test detects traces of ten different types of substances that are often associated with drug abuse. The test is normally conducted with a urine sample and may involve secondary testing to confirm any positive results. Testing may be performed as a condition of employment or when a person is suspected of abusing prescription or illegal drugs.

About the Test

Purpose of the test

The 10-panel drug test can detect recent use of ten common drugs of abuse. The most common use is for workplace drug testing. A 10-panel screen may also be used for:

  • Medical screening
  • Legal or forensic information
  • Sports/athletics testing
  • Monitoring pain medication use

The most common reasons an employer may require drug testing include the following:

  • Pre-employment: Pre-employment testing is often conducted after a conditional offer of employment has been made in order to screen applicants for illegal drug use.
  • Reasonable suspicion: Employers may conduct testing when drug use is suspected based on observable signs and symptoms in the workplace.
  • Post-accident: Drug testing may be performed after a workplace accident to determine if drug use may have been a contributing cause. Although drug testing can test for recent drug use, a positive test alone cannot prove that drug use caused a specific accident.
  • Random: Random drug testing is typically conducted without prior notice to act as a deterrent for employee drug use.
  • Periodic: Employers may elect to perform drug testing on a set schedule. Periodic testing may be administered as part of an annual physical exam.
  • Return-to-duty: Return-to-duty testing is performed when an employee is ready to return to the workplace after an extended absence. For example, it may be used after an employee has completed the required treatment for substance use following a positive result on a previous drug test.

Because the 10-panel drug test looks for more substances than many other drug tests, it is most frequently used by employers who want to screen employees for a wide range of substances.

What does the test measure?

The 10-panel drug test first analyzes the test sample, usually urine, for residue of the following 10 substances:

Drug Screened Examples of Specific Drugs and Common Names
Amphetamines Methamphetamines, meth, speed, ecstasy
THC Cannabinoids, marijuana, hash
Cocaine Coke, crack
Opiates Heroine, opium, codeine, morphine
Phencyclidine PCP, angel dust
Barbiturates Phenobarbital, butalbital, secobarbital
Benzodiazepines Diazepam, alprazolam, clonazepam
Methaqualone Quaaludes
Methadone Opiate analgesic
Propoxyphene Darvocet

If traces of these drugs are present in the initial screen, a second round of more precise testing is done to confirm the positive result.

In a urine drug test, additional analyses may be added to the tests for these 10 substances. For example, the lab may check the pH and other characteristics that help show that the urine sample was not adulterated, diluted, or substituted.

Taking the 10-Panel Drug Test

The 10-panel drug test is most often performed on a urine sample. Drug screening tests can also be done on hair, saliva, blood, and sweat.

Before the test

Before the test, you should inform your employer or the lab taking your urine sample of any over-the-counter or prescription drugs that you have recently taken because these can in some cases affect your test results.

For a urine test, you should avoid drinking too much water beforehand. Follow any specific instructions from your employer for how to prepare and what to bring when you take the test.

When preparing for at-home testing, it’s important to read all instructions provided with the collection kit. Test kits typically include instructions, a collection cup, and the test itself (which may be test strips, a test card, or a test cassette). Also, check the label of the collection kit to ensure that the test is designed to identify the presence of the specific drugs you’re interested in.

During the test

For a urine test at a clinic, you should receive a plastic container that is sealed in tamper-proof packaging. You will normally be directed to a private bathroom where you fill this container with urine up to a specifically marked level.

When you go into the bathroom, the water supply may be turned off, and there may be blue dye in the toilet bowl. These are measures intended to prevent tampering with the urine sample.

After you have provided a urine sample, staff typically record the temperature of the sample and secure the container in tamper-proof packaging so that it can be sent for analysis. The process lasts less than a few minutes.

At-home testing involves collecting  and testing urine according to instructions provided with the test kit.

After the Test

A urine test does not have any side effects and does not involve any post-test restrictions on your activity.

If a positive result is found on an at-home test, it’s helpful to send the sample to a certified laboratory for a final result. The second, more specific laboratory test is important because some foods, supplements, and medicines can affect the results of at-home testing.

10-Panel Drug Test Results

Receiving test results

Laboratory test results normally come back within several business days after you have provided a urine sample. Some labs may have on-site testing with more immediate test results. Results are made available to you by your employer or by the school that ordered the test.

At-home testing results typically require the results to be visually read within a certain number of minutes after starting the test.

Interpreting test results

Test results from a 10-panel drug test are usually reported as positive, negative, or inconclusive:

  • A positive test result means that the initial screen and the confirmatory testing found drug residues in your sample that exceeded the allowed limit. A positive result typically specifies which drug or drugs were detected.
  • A negative test result shows that no drug residues were found in your sample.
  • An inconclusive result indicates that the testing was not able to confirm whether drug residues were or were not present.

In many workplace testing programs, employees have the ability to request that their sample be analyzed by a second certified lab in order to confirm the results.

At-home testing offers only a preliminary result for the presence of specific drugs. Only a certified laboratory certified can confirm the preliminary test and offer a final result.

Sources and Resources

The following resources provide additional information about drug testing:


Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association. Workplace drug testing. Date unknown. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://datia.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/DATIA%20Tools%20Member%20Forum.pdf

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Benzodiazepines and opioids. Updated February 3, 2021. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids

MedlinePlus. National Library of Medicine. Methadone. Updated February 15, 2021. Accessed March 25, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682134.html

Hoffman, RJ. Testing for drugs of abuse (DOA). In: Traub S ed. UpToDate. Updated January 15, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/testing-for-drugs-of-abuse-doa

MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Drug testing. Updated July 30, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/drug-testing/

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Frequently asked questions about drug testing in schools. Updated May 26, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/drug-testing/frequently-asked-questions-about-drug-testing-in-schools

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Drug testing. Updated April 3, 2020. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/resources/drug-testing

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Urine specimen collection handbook for federal agency workplace drug testing programs. Updated October 1, 2017. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/workplace/urine-specimen-collection-handbook-oct2017_2.pdf

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Drugs of abuse home use test. Updated September 27, 2018. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/drugs-abuse-tests/drugs-abuse-home-use-test

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