A standard drug screen will be conducted on your urine which includes
testing for cannabinoids (cannabis), amphetamines, opiates (heroin),
benzodiazepines (sleeping tablets/antidepressants), methadone, barbiturates,
alcohol and cocaine. Your urine will also be checked to make sure
it is concentrated enough and there are no external adulterants present
which may interfere in the testing process.
Each of the drug classes has an assigned value (cutoff level) which
is the level at which a decision is made as to if the sample should
be reported as positive or negative, if drugs of that class are
detected. These cutoff levels are defined in Australian Standard
AS/NZS 4308 and are usually derived from levels which can be reliably
detected in a laboratory. Some cutoff levels may take other factors
into account such as the cutoff level for cannabis metabolites which
makes allowance for passive smoking (ie it is set at such a level
so as to ensure that you cannot get a positive result from passive
smoking). The drug cutoff levels are:
- Amphetamines 0.3 ug/mL
- Barbiturates 0.2 ug/mL
- Benzodiazepines 0.2 ug/mL
- Cannabinoids 50 ng/mL
- Cocaine 0.3 ug/mL
- Methadone 0.3 ug/mL
- Opiates 0.3 ug/mL
The length of time each of the drugs stay in the body for varies
depending on specific characteristics of the drug itself. As a rough
guide the following information can be used:
- Alcohol 2-14 hours depending on consumption
- Amphetamines 2 to 4 days
- Barbiturates long acting – 2 to 3 weeks
/ short acting – 24 to 72 hours
- Benzodiazepines up to 4 to 6 weeks
- Cocaine 2 to 4 days
- Cannabinoids acute use – 18 hours to
5 days / light user (less than once per day) – up to 15
heavy user (2-3 times/day for more than 3months) – up to
- Methadone 3 days
- Opiates 2 days
If the sample is analysed in a laboratory, all possible interfering
substances are checked for. This includes all of the common adulterants
(ie bleach) as well as the commercially available adulterants (ie
UrineLuck, Whizzies etc). Some adulterants can have their effect
removed from the sample to enable the laboratory to continue to
test the sample whilst others prevent the sample from being tested.
In the latter case, the sample is reported as unsuitable for testing
due to adulteration and a repeat sample is suggested.
If you drink more than 2-3 cups of water before having your urine
collected, you may provide a sample which is too dilute for testing.
This is determined by measuring the level of creatinine in the urine.
If the creatinine level is too low, then the sample cannot be tested
and must be recollected. If repeated dilute samples are provided
(in the absence of prescribed diuretic use or a variety of medical
conditions), intentional dilution in order to avoid the test may
be considered as a possibility.
The results of your drug screen are strictly confidential and will
only be released to parties that we have received your permission,
in writing, to release them to. Any other party that contacts the
laboratory requesting the results, will be requested to submit a
request in writing that must be signed by you as well as the other
Passive smoking of cannabis smoke cannot cause a positive result
on a drug test except in extreme conditions, which you would have
to voluntarily endure.
You will need to bring some form of positive identification which
has a laminated photo or signature from a recognised organisation
(ie drivers licence, passport etc). Credit cards cannot be accepted
as proof of identification since they are not laminated.
The only sure way to confirm that the urine in the sample cup came
from the subject concerned is for the sample to be directly witnessed.
This will always be done with maximum possible regard for the individuals
privacy. If the sample is only for the personal knowledge of the
subject concerned, a non-witnessed collection can be performed but
the report will state that the sample was not witnessed and should
not be used for any industrial or legal applications.
The specimen is collected and sealed with tamperproof tape in full
view of the subject. From this point on the sample is handled under
full chain of custody conditions. All people that have access to
the urine sample from this point on are required to sign for the
sample and hence each of the people concerned must potentially have
to state under oath that they did not tamper with the sample and
were responsible for the sample whilst in their possession. The
subject is also offered the right to have the sample split at the
point of collection. If this option is selected, the sample is split
into two sample jars and one jar will remain sealed unless the subject
gives written instructions for the second sample to be tested (during
which the subject or subject’s representative may be present
If the subject requested that the sample be split into two jars
at the point of collection, the second sample is available and can
be retested by a different laboratory at the subjects request. If
the sample was not split, the original sample jar is stored frozen
for 12 months (if it was positive) and can be retested at a different
laboratory if required.
This will depend on the reasons for the test. If the test has been
requested as part of a pre-employment medical, the potential employer
may pay or the subject may have to pay. Please check before your
sample is collected, if you are unsure of who is responsible for
the cost of the test.
Your first point of contact will be the centre that collected your
urine sample. If there is any queries that they are unable to help
you with they will put you in touch with the laboratory.
Many organisation implement an alcohol and drug policy and testing
procedure as part of their duty of care to employees. An employers
duty of care includes the requirement to provide a safe workplace.
One of the aspects of a workplace that needs to be addressed before
a workplace can be called safe is the problem of alcohol and drug
impaired employees. Employers need to have a means for identifying
alcohol and drug impaired employees and also clear policy guidelines
for dealing with the individual concerned. These guideline also
need to detail how the individual concerned should be rehabilitated
to ensure the employee can return to their job and be fit for work.
An alcohol and drug policy when properly implemented can be a very
positive condition of employment for all employees since it will
give them the confidence that, at least as far as alcohol and drugs
is concerned, their work colleagues are fit for work.
If you are in any doubt, you should check with the doctor who prescribed
your medication. Only the prescribing doctor can make the assessment
of whether you are safe to work in your current job whilst on the
medication in question. Your doctor will also be able to find out
if the drug will show up in a urine drug test. A urine drug test
when properly conducted in a laboratory will be able to differentiate
prescription and ‘over the counter’ medications from
A blood test is not able to be collected for drugs of abuse since
laboratory assays for these substances in blood are not available.
Some sources of poppy seeds that are available in supermarkets or
are sold on bread products do contain some morphine and low concentrations
of other opiates. Ingestion of reasonable amounts of these products
can cause an initial positive result to opiate class medication.
Further confirmatory testing will however be able to identify if
heroin abuse has occurred by looking for heroin specific metabolites.
Our team welcomes the opportunity to discuss your
pathology testing requirements offering a flexible and comprehensive
program of implementation to meet your industry needs.
Tel: (08) 9317 0834
Fax: (08) 9317 0832