Last updated: May 25, 2020
A 5-panel drug test is used to determine if a person is abusing illicit drugs. This test can be used by businesses that make it a prerequisite before hiring an individual, to check Federal employees, sports organizations testing athletes, recovering drug abusers in treatment, by doctors who believe their patient is abusing drugs, or convicted felons on probation or supervised release.
The five drugs that are tested for in this panel are marijuana, amphetamines, opiates, cocaine, and phencyclidine (PCP) or “angel dust.” The test itself is conducted by using either urine or saliva samples.
5-panel drug tests can be conducted quickly on-site and without employees having to leave to be tested at a lab. The usual turnaround time for results at three days or less. In certain instances, instant results can be given.
Depending on the specific drug, detection of its use may be possible by anywhere from four hours to 10 days. Amphetamines can linger in a person’s system anywhere from four to 24 hours after taking them, while cocaine still shows up from one to two days afterwards. Opiates remain for several days, and PCP can remain as long as eight days. Finally, marijuana lasts the longest, with some users being detected up to 10 days later.
The value in using these drug tests is that it helps to reduce absenteeism, increase worker productivity and reduce accidents in the workplace. With regard to the latter point, companies have generally seen a drop of over 50 percent in workplace injury rates after just two years of implementing such a program.