Toxicology Screening
(Toxicology Screen)

Alternate Names

  • Panel Tests: Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine Metabolites
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone
  • Opiate Metabolites
  • Phencyclidine
  • Propoxyphene

Toxicology Screening may be done for a variety of reasons: before and during employment, either as a random sampling or as part of an annual physical exam; by law enforcement following an accident or when there is reasonable cause, or as part of substance abuse treatment program; by life and health insurance companies; testing for the presence of drugs used to enhance performance by athletes; or in the event of an unexplained coma. Illegal street drugs and alcohol are the substances most commonly tested.

Urine is tested for the presence of illegal drugs, and drug use can be detected in urine for up to two weeks following drug use, while blood level testing is limited to only a few hours. Breath analysis tests for the presence of alcohol. Saliva and sweat can also be tested, but these tests are very expensive. Hair analysis can detect drug use within the past three months, and are also used to detect long-term exposure to toxic substances such as mercury or arsenic. On-site, or home-use tests have been developed to test for the presence of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

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