Different Types of Drug Tests: What Does “Drug Panel” Mean?

Drug testing is a technique that gives people an insight into the substances an individual has used or used over time. It has become an increasingly pressing issue in the workplace to ask employees to undergo a urine 5-panel drug test to ensure a safe working environment. Most companies in the US use panel drug testing that enables them to create custom drug screening based on their individual needs.

Different Types of Drug Tests

What is A Panel Drug Test?

A panel drug test is a drug test that helps screen multiple substances simultaneously. Nowadays, these are standard techniques employers use to screen candidates for drug usage. Usually, samples for panel drug tests are collected like for other drug test types. You may be asked to submit a urine, blood, saliva, or hair follicle sample to test for different drugs. Urine drug screening is the most common form of sampling because it is easy to administer and non-invasive. Hair tests are rare because of their cost.

Types of Panel Drug Tests

There are different types of drug tests depending on the number of substances they help to test. In this article, we will discuss the most common types of panel drug tests, which are:

  1. 4-Panel Drug Tests
  2. 5-Panel Drug Testing
  3. 7-Panel Drug Test
  4. 9-Panel Test
  5. 10-Panel Drug Testing, and
  6. 12-Panel Drug Tests

4-Panel Drug Tests

If you are an employee or searching for your first employment, you may have to come across a 4-panel drug screening because it is the most common type of test employers use. As the name suggests, a 4-panel drug test helps employers to test the four most common drugs among their employees. You can use this testing technique to check the amount of:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids
  • Marijuana


Although Amphetamines are recommended for treating specific medical conditions such as ADHD and narcolepsy, some people abuse their use as recreational drugs.


It is among the most commonly misused drugs obtained from the Coca plant. Because of being highly addictive, it is also used as a recreational drug.


Opioids include certain prescription painkillers and some illegal drugs like heroin. These are also highly addictive and can be dangerous if used continuously. Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, heroin, and fentanyl are some examples of opioids.


Marijuana, also named Cannabis, is the most common drug used in America. Its usage has increased exponentially since some States have allowed its usage. This psychoactive drug is obtained from the Cannabis plant and used for medicinal and recreational use.

Drug testing labs recommend urine sampling for 4-panel testing. You must submit a urine sample in a sterile cup, and lab technicians prefer to check the sample at the testing facility. Usually, laboratories use an immunoassay process to test for these four drugs through urine samples. The reliability and accuracy of 4-panel tests are always exceptional.

5-Panel Drug Testing

Many workplaces, schools, and sports boards require employees, students, and players to undergo 5-panel testing. What is a 5-panel drug test? The answer is that it helps you detect five specific drugs. These five most commonly abused drugs in our society include the four tested in a 4-panel drug screening and phencyclidine (PCP) as the fifth.


Apart from the four addictive drugs detected in a 4-panel screen, phencyclidine is the drug you can detect through a 5-panel screen test. It has become an abused medicine because of its mind-altering effects. Phencyclidine is available in the form of a white powder that is used for recreational purposes in various societies.

Remember that drugs taken by an addict break down into more minor metabolites. Usually, these are excreted from the body through various means. However, their traces remain in the blood, urine, and hair. A 5-panel drug test analyzes a person’s urine, blood, or hair follicles. Laboratories prefer checking samples at their testing facility. Immunoassay, gas chromatography, and mass spectrometry are some techniques that aid in 5-panel drug screening.

Like other drug screens, a 5-panel drug screen is also reliable because of its high accuracy. However, it may yield false results due to various factors, and you have to submit samples again for retesting.

7-Panel Drug Test

Healthcare, transportation, and law enforcement industries recommend that employees pass 7-panel testing to continue their services. It is also among the most common types of drug tests that detect the presence of seven specific drugs in the body. Usually, a 7-panel test analyzes the five drugs tested in a 5-panel screen by adding two more drugs. You can test Benzodiazepines and Barbiturates along with five other drugs.


These depressant drugs combine benzene and diazepine rings that help relieve muscle pain and spasms. Usually, these are prescribed medicines to people suffering from sleeping disorders, anxiety disorders, and seizures. Although benzodiazepines are safe and effective for short-term use, long-term use can be destructive.


Barbiturates are also depressant drugs effective as anxiolytics, hypnotics, and anticonvulsants. Although benzodiazepines have replaced these medicines in medical practice to treat anxiety and insomnia, they are still used for various purposes.

Usually, 7-panel testing is carried out through urine samples. You can also test other bodily fluids like blood, saliva, and hair follicles for the presence of drug metabolites. Remember to drink plenty of water and avoid drugs for at least 72 hours to pass the test.

9-Panel Test

With the continuation of drug abuse, drug testing is also evolving to detect the usage of more drugs. 9-panel drug testing has also become common because it enables employers, healthcare providers, and law enforcement authorities to test any person for the presence of nine drugs. A 9 panel drug test includes all the drugs tested in a 7-panel screen with the addition of two more drugs. You can use it for testing:


Methadone is also a drug of the opioid family that is used for the treatment of extreme pain. Medical science also recommends its usage as a part of a treatment program for heroin addiction or other narcotic painkillers. Although taking it is safer than other narcotics, your doctor must keep a close watch to save you from addiction.


It is also another opioid that relieves mild to moderate pain. Propoxyphenes are used under various generic names in different countries. The drug is banned in USA and UK because of its potentially fatal heart issues. You can suffer from the risk of heart issues even if you take the recommended dose of this medicine.

What is a 10-Panel Drug Test?

Most government agencies require employees to pass a 10-panel drug test to maintain a sober working environment. A 10-panel urine drug test at Labcorp is a technique that helps employers or agencies to test their prospective employees for ten abusive medicines. You can use it for testing all nine drugs tested in a 9-panel test with the addition of oxycodone as the tenth drug.


Oxycodone is a painkiller drug from the opioid family that relieves moderate to severe pain. It is prescribed for those suffering from severe pain, which cannot be given other painkillers. The medication is available in tablet, capsule, and liquid form. Extended use of this medication causes addiction.

Usually, urine samples are collected for a 10-panel non-DOT drug test to check the presence of ten drugs in the body. It takes a few days to process the results of this test. Remember to keep yourself hydrated on the test day and avoid using drugs 72 hours before sampling.

12 Panel Drug Test

12-panel tests are among the most comprehensive drug-testing methods available nowadays. As the name implies, 12-panel screening helps detect 12 different classes of drugs. Apart from detecting the drugs in 10-panel testing, you can test two additional classes of drugs. What drugs are on a 12-panel drug test  include:


Methaqualone is a soothing and muscle-relaxing medicine that is used to treat insomnia. It was first noted in 1955, but its increasing recreational usage in the 1960s and 1970s prompted healthcare providers to discontinue this drug. The medication works on GABA receptors in the brain and nervous systems. Later, it was revealed that an overdose of methaqualone might cause brain functions to shut down and cause death.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy is also among the drugs that can be detected by 12-panel testing. It has stimulant properties, can alter senses, and increase empathy and energy. Usually, people use it as a recreational drug, but extended use may cause addiction, memory issues, sleeping difficulty, and paranoia.

Employers, agencies, and organizations mostly prefer urine sampling for 12-panel tests. But you can also go through the test by collecting blood, saliva, or hair follicle samples.

How Long Does It Take to Get Drug Test Results?

Do you know there are different drug tests, each with a specific detection time window? It is a time when you can detect drugs and their metabolites in the body. Choosing the proper test that suits your needs is always up to you. The turnaround time for drug test results can vary depending on several factors. Some of the factors are:

  • Type of test
  • Lab conducting the test
  • The number of drugs you want to test, and many more.

Research shows that urine tests are the fastest to yield results within 24-48 hours after sampling. However, blood and saliva drug tests take 2-3 days to produce results. Still, many labs offer rapid drug testing facilities that give results within a few minutes after sample collection. Hospitals and clinics use these tests in emergencies to boost the treatment process. Remember that rapid drug tests are not as accurate as routine ones.

The quality of the sample may also affect the turnaround time for test results. Sometimes, the samples are damaged during shipping. In these cases, the labs require resampling, and the results may get delayed.

Why do Employers Drug Test?

Workplace drug testing has become a common practice because of significant results. Different employers use drug testing techniques for different purposes. Some of the most common reasons for employers’ drug testing are:

  • Safety concerns
  • Legal Considerations
  • Efficiency and Productivity
  • Reputation and Public Image

Safety is the primary reason employers drug test their employees because a person working under the influence of drugs may pose a significant risk to his life and the lives of colleagues and customers. Similarly, several jobs imply recruiting individuals after drug testing because it is a legal constraint. For example, you cannot recruit a truck driver or pilot without drug testing to avoid horrible consequences.

Organizations prefer drug testing before recruitment because drugs affect employees’ efficiency and productivity. Moreover, a person working under drug influence may be absent from duty frequently.

Many companies also use drug testing to save their public image and reputation. For example, a restaurant with addictive employees may lose customers and earn a bad reputation if it serves bad food or offers poor customer service.

Drug Testing Policies of Big Employers in 2023

Almost all big employers in the United States have drug testing policies that will likely continue in 2023. For example, Amazon’s drug testing policy requires all employees to undergo drug testing to maintain a safe and healthy working environment. It also demands new recruiting employees pass a drug test before selection. Walmart, another giant employer, has a drug testing policy for all current employees and recruits.

Many Big companies like Google and Apple do not have drug testing policies. Instead, they continuously work on employee education and support programs to eliminate workplace drug usage.

How to Prepare for A Drug Test?

If you are required to take a drug test, the below-given tips will help you prepare and maximize your chances of passing.

  • Stop using drugs well before the test because the longer you abstain from drugs, the lower the chances of drugs showing in your samples. If you are taking prescription medicine, never forget to bring it.
  • Drinking plenty of water may also flush THC remains out of your body and maximize your chances of passing. Moreover, increased liquid intake will dilute your urine and make the test inconclusive.
  • Avoid fatty foods if you intend to pass the drug test because fatty food slows the metabolic process, and you cannot eliminate drug metabolites.
  • The regular exercise shows a positive result on your tests because exercise helps you burn fats and boost metabolism, breaking drugs into minor metabolites.
  • Do you know that taking enough sleep can also help your body fight against drug remains? Proper sleep supports the body’s natural immune system to fight against harmful substances.
  • You can also use detox products available online and in offline stores like Toxin Rid or Detoxify Mega Clean. Always use detox products in the prescribed way to get desired results.


What drugs are included in drug tests?

The drugs included in a drug test vary depending on the type of test you are using. However, most drug tests detect commonly abused drugs, including Marijuana, Cocaine, Opioids, and Amphetamines.

What Types of Drug Tests are Commonly Used?

There are several types of drug tests urine, blood, saliva, hair follicle, and sweat tests. Urine tests are the most common because they are non-invasive and easy to administer.

How Long do Drugs Stay in Your System?

The length of time a drug can be detected in the human body varies depending on the type and frequency of the drug used. For example, Marijuana remains in the body for almost 30 days, while cocaine remains only for a few hours.

Can Drug Test Results be Inaccurate?

While drug tests are reliable, there are rare chances that they can yield inaccurate results. Sometimes, particular medication or supplement usage can cause false positive results.

What Can be detected in a Urine Test?

Depending on the type of test you use, urine tests can detect all kinds of abusive medicines.