How Long Does it Take to Get Drug Test Results

Employers wish to know if candidates are using any drugs, or if they are abusing prescription medications for example.

There are several types of drug tests available, and each of these will test for different drugs (the 5-panel drug test, the 7-panel test or the wider spectrum 12-panel drug test).

But how about the time needed to get the results from these drug tests? Read below more comprehensive information on the topic.

Drug test outcome: Negative vs. Positive

Often, the timeframe needed for a drug test result to come out is actually influenced by the result. If it is a clear negative result, the test results might come out very quickly.

However, if there is reasonable suspicion that the respective person is using some substances, or if the test is inconclusive but not negative either…experts will run other tests to confirm a positive. This prolongs the entire process.

Some prescription medications might cause false positive results. This is when healthcare specialists will carry out further, more advanced testing to see clearly what gives the false positive results.

This is precisely why it is so important to inform the test administrator about any prescription medication you are taking, to clear the confusion. In cases when further testing is run, the results can take even up to 5 days to come out.

The time is so long because experts use complex lab testing methods such as Gas Chromatography & Mass Spectrometry.

A timeframe for Urine, Blood & Hair Testing results

The most common type of drug testing used by employers is the urine test. This is when you will need to produce a urine sample, and then experts will take it to the lab for investigations.

The typical 5-panel drug test will look for the following: Cannabinoids, Amphetamines, Cocaine, PCP and Opiates. The greatest majority of drug testing labs will process these tests within 24 to 48 hours.

Therefore, in up to two days, employers will get the results and find out if candidates use any drugs (or if they abuse prescription medications).

Blood drug testing is yet another type of test, although less commonly used (most often Courts will order Blood drug tests).

The blood test is the less frequently used type of testing during pre-employment, mainly because drugs are not detectable after 48 hours. Blood test results are processed just as fast as urine tests- within 1 or 2 days the result is revealed to the employer.

When a test comes out positive, the entire process will take much longer because more comprehensive tests are needed to confirm the result.

Regarding hair testing (or “follicle” tests), it is important to mention that drug use can be detected even up to 3 months in the hair.

This makes it a more and more preferred choice among employers. Results take even up to 10 days to come out when hair testing is used.