Health Guide

Drugs of abuse urine screening test

What is this test?

This test screens for the presence of drugs of abuse in urine[1][2][3]. Drugs that may be detected using a drugs of abuse screening test may include marijuana, cocaine, morphine, codeine, phencyclidine, amphetamine and methamphetamine[4][5].

What are related tests?

  • Drug of abuse screen
  • Drug of abuse screen, Blood

Why do I need this test?

Laboratory tests may be done for many reasons. Tests are performed for routine health screenings or if a disease or toxicity is suspected. Lab tests may be used to determine if a medical condition is improving or worsening. Lab tests may also be used to measure the success or failure of a medication or treatment plan. Lab tests may be ordered for professional or legal reasons. You may need this test if you have:

  • Substance abuse

When and how often should I have this test?

When and how often laboratory tests are done may depend on many factors. The timing of laboratory tests may rely on the results or completion of other tests, procedures, or treatments. Lab tests may be performed immediately in an emergency, or tests may be delayed as a condition is treated or monitored. A test may be suggested or become necessary when certain signs or symptoms appear.

Due to changes in the way your body naturally functions through the course of a day, lab tests may need to be performed at a certain time of day. If you have prepared for a test by changing your food or fluid intake, lab tests may be timed in accordance with those changes. Timing of tests may be based on increased and decreased levels of medications, drugs or other substances in the body.

The age or gender of the person being tested may affect when and how often a lab test is required. Chronic or progressive conditions may need ongoing monitoring through the use of lab tests. Conditions that worsen and improve may also need frequent monitoring. Certain tests may be repeated to obtain a series of results, or tests may need to be repeated to confirm or disprove results. Timing and frequency of lab tests may vary if they are performed for professional or legal reasons.

How should I get ready for the test?

To prepare for giving a urine sample, be sure to drink enough fluids before the test, unless you have been given other instructions. Try not to empty your bladder before the test.

Avoid eating poppy seeds or any food containing poppy seeds before this test[6].

How is the test done?

To provide a sample of urine, you will be asked to urinate into a container. Fill the container as much as you can, but do not overfill it. Urine samples may also be taken from a catheter.

How will the test feel?

The amount of discomfort you feel will depend on many factors, including your sensitivity to pain. Communicate how you are feeling with the person doing the test. Inform the person doing the test if you feel that you cannot continue with the test.

This test usually causes no discomfort.

What should I do after the test?

After collecting a urine sample, close the container if it has a lid. Place the container where the healthcare worker asked you to put it. Clean your hands with soap and water.

What are the risks?

Urine: A urine test is generally considered safe. Talk to your healthcare worker if you have questions or concerns about this test.

What are normal results for this test?

Laboratory test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and many other factors. If your results are different from the results suggested below, this may not mean that you have a disease. Contact your healthcare worker if you have any questions. The following is considered to be a normal result for this test:

  • Adults and children: Negative [4][7]

What follow up should I do after this test?

Ask your healthcare worker how you will be informed of the test results. You may be asked to call for results, schedule an appointment to discuss results, or notified of results by mail. Follow up care varies depending on many factors related to your test. Sometimes there is no follow up after you have been notified of test results. At other times follow up may be suggested or necessary. Some examples of follow up care include changes to medication or treatment plans, referral to a specialist, more or less frequent monitoring, and additional tests or procedures. Talk with your healthcare worker about any concerns or questions you have regarding follow up care or instructions.

Where can I get more information?

Related Companies

  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence -
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse -
  • National Clearinghouse on Drug and Alcohol Information -


[1] Katz N & Fanciullo GJ: Role of urine toxicology testing in the management of chronic opioid therapy. Clin J Pain 2002; 18(Suppl 4):S76-S82.

[2] Simpson D, Greenwood J, Jarvie DR, et al: Experience of a laboratory service for drug screening in urine. Scott Med J 1993; 38(1):20-26.

[3] Montagne M, Pugh CB, & Fink JL 3rd: Testing for drug use, Part 1: Analytical methods. Am J Hosp Pharm 1988; 45(6):1297-1305.

[4] Department of Health and Human Services: Department of health and human services substance abuse and mental health services administration mandatory guidelines for federal workplace drug testing programs. SAMHSA. Washington, DC. 1994. Available from URL: As accessed 10/9/2005.

[5] Eskridge KD & Guthrie SK: Clinical issues associated with urine testing of substances of abuse. Pharmacotherapy 1997; 17(3):497-510.

[6] Pichini S, Altieri I, Pellegrini M, et al: The role of liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry in the determination of heroin and related opioids in biological fluids. Mass Spectrom Rev 1999; 18(2):119-130.

[7] Casavant MJ: Urine drug screening in adolescents. Pediatr Clin North Am 2002; 49(2):317-327.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

All rights reserved