5 Panel Drug Test: Everything You Need to Know


Drug tests have become prevalent in almost all sectors to keep a check on their employees against drug abuse and as a deterrent. Drug tests come in various panels where each panel detects a particular set of drugs. There are different panels available in the market with different combinations for drug testing.

A wide range of Urine Drug Test Panels are available:

In this article, we will be explore everything about the 5-Panel Drug Test. 

Table of Contents

What is a 5-Panel Urine Drug Test?

A 5-panel Urine drug test generally screens for five illicit substances. Hence, five different drugs can be detected instantly in a given biological sample. A positive result may appear on any of the panels or all the panels if drug traces are found in your system during the test.

A 5-panel drug test kit is a viable option for most employers. The 5-panel drug test is used to screen for the most commonly used illicit substances. Employers can customize this panel to detect different drugs of their choice.

The commonly screened drugs through 5-panel:

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

Individuals abusing these substances may lose their job. They may encounter an accident since these drugs alter the mental state. 

Who uses 5-Panel Drug Tests?

The majority of the workplace in the United States relies on the 5-Panel Drug Test. The 5-panel drug test is also deemed the standard panel and used by many private and government agencies.

5-Panel Drug Tests are utilized by:

5-Panel Drug Test Screens For The Following Substances

1. Cocaine

Cocaine is analogous to a white powder, commonly mixed with other look-alikes to create artificial fillers and increase the substance's quantity. It is injected, snorted, or inhaled to get the feeling of high. Cocaine is produced by processing the leaves of the coca plant. The raw coca leaf, when chewed, can also give a light effect of cocaine.

Cocaine is a stimulant, and many individuals use it to stay awake for an extended period. It also suppresses appetite and induces rapid weight loss.

Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug due to its high susceptibility towards psychological or physical dependence. Cocaine users may feign for the drug and cross barriers to reach out for the drug. Similar to opiates, this drug also has a very high potential for addiction.

2. Amphetamines

Amphetamines come in pill forms and sometimes snorted after crushing them. Amphetamines are also mixed with the other fillers to increase the quantity and the weight. Patients with ADHD and ADD are prescribed amphetamine in the form of Adderall and Ritalin.

Amphetamine is also a stimulant and most popular among high school and college students. It is focus-oriented and allows the user to stay awake and attentive.

Amphetamines are classified as Schedule II drugs with a potential for abuse, including psychological and physical dependence.

3. Methamphetamines

Methamphetamine is another form of amphetamine consisting of a similar base of chemicals as in amphetamines. It is commonly known as the "meth," which is either found in powder or crystal form. Methamphetamines are produced illegitimately with specific compositions. The design and the strength vary from place to place and person to person.

Methamphetamine gives a sudden rush of euphoria, increased senses, sudden rise in energy, and more than required focus. Meth is quite strong, and every time the user consumes meth would require higher amounts to get the same high. Over time, meth tends to destroy all the dopamine receptors, making it impossible to feel any pleasance, thus accelerating the desire for more and more meth.

Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug and is typically tested in the 5-panel drug test. Using methamphetamine without prescription is considered illicit. This class of drugs is frequently monitored and tightly regulated for misuse.

4. Opiates

Opiates are used for medical and recreational purposes and a derivative of the opium poppy plant. Some drugs, such as codeine, morphine, Vicodin, etc., have opiates/opium alkaloid extracts prescribed to help relieve pain. Opiates also act as a relaxer and help with sleep issues.

Heroin is a hard drug that is derived from morphine. It is a Schedule I drug and highly addictive. When injected intravenously, it provides the fastest and most intense rush. Using the same injections among drug abusers also increases the risk of disease transmission. Opiates are also snorted and smoked.

There are different versions of opiates used legitimately for medicinal purposes. When taken more than the prescribed dose, it may potentiate physical dependence and psychological addiction.

5. Marijuana

Marijuana is a plant's dried flower buds usually made into hash or included in the baked food consumed as brownies and cookies. Marijuana users consume it either by smoking or as an edible. People with different preferences also take it as tea.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is an active chemical found naturally in the marijuana plant. Marinol is the synthetic form of THC.

Cannabis products, when consumed, produce mild-to-moderate analgesic effects, including euphoric feelings and relaxation. Consuming weed also leads to anxiousness or paranoia.

The federal government doesn't recognize marijuana for any medical purpose, thus considering it for Schedule I drugs. However, many states in the US recognize the medicinal value of marijuana, which allows its use under legal prescription. Though they have legalized marijuana usage, there is no escape from its test as the THC is checked under 5-panel drug tests.

6. Phencyclidine (PCP)

Phencyclidine is an illegally created synthetic chemical substance that is available in powder form or liquid. Users smoke, inject or snort it. Drug abusers are usually inclined to experiment with the consumption ways that can give them a high euphoric reach.

Phencyclidine is used to tranquilize animals. It is also known as PCP or Angel Dust. It is one of the dangerous substances and distorts the senses, hallucinations, and feelings of detachment from the surroundings. It is labeled as a Schedule II drug by the federal government.

Drug-Free Workplace

The drugs under 5-panel are the most commonly used drugs that are not encouraged in the workplace. Therefore, in most places, 5-panel drug tests are deemed necessary and encourage employees to stay sober on all days and help them get away from the devastating effects of the drugs. It is designed especially for the employee to help enforce a workplace free of drugs. Working under the influence of such harmful drugs at the workplace may negatively impact both the employees and their colleagues.

Benefits of 5-Panel Drug Test

A simple test does not harm; instead, it saves time and incidents that could have been harmful. The tests can efficiently detect substance abuse in a short period in any individual.

The most common illegal drugs mentioned above produce intoxication and other after-effects that reduce the thinking process and reaction time. The lack of focus and attention causes most accidents and intellectual expenses that can cause a great deal of work-life loss. Therefore, it is required to be checked and check upon the employees regularly.

There are unseen benefits directly or indirectly achieved, the amount being immeasurable to an ordinary person's experience, but government statistics ascertain that there is a possibility of saving around thousands of dollars per year. Even the insurance companies help lower the premium based on all the employees being tested, making it a win-win situation for almost every company.

Benefits of 5-Panel Drug Testing Kits

  • Cost:The drug testing kit costs less when compared to the laboratory test.
  • Layman's Job:To understand and interpret the results is an easy process that doesn't have to be monitored by a specially trained person.
  • User-Friendly:Anyone can use a 5-panel drug testing kit.
  • Multitasking:A 5-panel drug test can detect multiple drugs as each of its panels is efficient in testing the five major groups of drugs discussed above, all at once.
  • Shelf Life:It is easy to store due to its longer shelf life.

The benefits state that performing drug tests on the employees secures the work environment and ascertains staff members' safety, which is a smart and wise option for any employer to maintain their work efficiency. Regular testing helps keep a check on any drug habits and deterrence.

Biological Specimens Utilized for 5-Panel Drug Test

The most commonly administered is the urine drug test. Urine specimens are screened to detect drugs, and the panels can show one or more drugs and their metabolites present in the provided specimen.

Urine Drug Test

  • Easy to administer, non-invasive, and cost-efficient.
  • Detects the presence of drug(s) and their metabolites.
  • Detects a wide variety of drugs.
  • Results are immediate and accurate.
  • The drug-specific detection window; varies from a few days to few weeks depending on the drugs.
  • Administered in various testing situations such as pre-employment, random, post-accident, follow-up, etc.
  • Difficult to cheat if administered under strict supervision.

Saliva Drug Test

  • It is easier to avail of a saliva test kit and handy to store than the others.
  • Quick and easier to administer.
  • No intrusion of privacy, as in the case of urine drug tests.
  • Tamper-free since the oral fluids is collected under direct supervision.
  • Detects drug residues ingested orally in the last 24 to 48 hours after last use.
  • Detects metabolites at lower thresholds, which at times can be missed by urine test or remains undetectable.
  • Studies have shown that saliva tests are generally more accurate in detecting meth and opiates used illegally or prescribed.
  • Less reliable in detecting cannabinoids.

Drug Testing Statistics

  • Urine test is done by around 90 percent of employers.
  • The saliva test is used by around 10 percent of employers.
  • Hair follicle test more or less around 7 percent of employers.

Drug Detection Window and Cut-Off Threshold



Detection Window

Cut-Off Threshold



1 to 2 days, depending on type

1000 ng/mL



Single Use:  1-4 days

Heavy Use:  Up to a wee

1000 ng/mL



1 to 4 days

2000 ng/mL



8 days

25 ng/mL



3 to 30 days, depending on use

50 ng/mL



2 to 10 days

300 ng/mL

Drugs may be detected in the samples

Urine:  Up to 48 hours

Saliva:  Up to three days

Hair:  Up to three months (90 days)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What causes a false positive drug test?

Although false positives are rare, there are possibilities of false positives as no test is ever 100% accurate. A drug screen can detect certain illegal drugs that are not even consumed. These can undoubtedly happen due to the consumption of over-the-counter medication, a particular food, or prescription medication.

It will be known to the person in question whether or not the results are accurate; in that case, one must consult with their healthcare provider and cut down on a few prescribed medicines that are known to cause false positives and repeat the test.

2. What kind of laboratories should be preferred for drug testing?

Any drug test specimens are sent to laboratories certified by SAMHSA for analysis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is amongst the US Department of Human and Health Services that promote public health efforts and advances in the nation's behavioral health. Their main motive is to monitor and reduce the impact of mental illness and substance abuse on American communities.

3. What is the time duration to check for the drugs?

The time frame for detection can vary based on several factors. A more problematic drug like cocaine will leave the body in a shorter time, whereas the softer ones like marijuana take longer to exit. In this process, metabolism, body fat, and weight play a significant role. The frequency of usage also determines the system's infiltration. The human metabolism combined with the drug's period of retention in the body works differently. Some take longer than expected, whereas some may even escape the detection. There are specific guidelines to follow; the drugs other than THC can get detected in the urine test until 5-7 days.

4. How to cope with the THC in the States where marijuana is legal?

Excluding marijuana depends on the employers in states where marijuana is legalized. It is also equally important to cause deterrence against marijuana abuse since it may negatively impact both the employee and employer.

Since marijuana is a mind-altering drug, users may develop dependence or addiction to cannabis. It can affect an individual's ability to understand, handle difficult tasks and slow down the response time.

5. Does the menstrual cycle affect the urine test?

A urine test conducted at the time of a menstrual cycle can contaminate the urine test.

6. What temperature is required for the urine test?

The urine temperature should be between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit within four minutes of the sample collection. If it is above or below the said temperature, it will be deemed adulterated or unfit.

7. What are the preventive measures taken before a drug test?

Usually, the drug test is a surprise check in the office, but if you know it beforehand, then there is a list of things that need to be avoided before the drug test commences. 24 hours before the drug test, one should avoid:

  • Strenuous exercises such as working out in the gym, swimming, playing, etc.
  • Alcohol
  • Acetaminophen
  • Antihistamines
  • Vitamin B
  • Caffeine
  • Aspirin

Bottom Line

A drug testing panel is sometimes taken as a light joke, but some essential details draw the light upon the necessity of its existence. In the first place, the test has been around for a longer time, and the consistent development in the process has made it way more accurate than in the past. The 5-panel drug test tends to show up one or more drugs even when the drug user assumes the system is clean.

It assures the employer that the employee is sober at work and is not under the influence of any hallucinating agent while working and confirms that the decision is sound and apt.

The test doesn't call for the announcement; instead, it is done randomly so that there is no escape, and the tension buildup of getting caught will keep the thought of it at bay. The test ensures that the law is in its place and followed strictly.

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