Last updated: September 25, 2023
The opiate drug test has become increasingly important because America faces a growing epidemic of opiate abuse. In fact, every day, opiate overdoses kill more than 115 Americans. More employers have become conscious of the danger this drug causes, both in terms of safety and productivity. Keeping opiate abuse of of the workplace is in their best interest.
Most drug panels, including 5 panel, 10 panel, and 12 panel drug tests all include opiates. It’s important to make sure that all of the opiates you want to test for are included on the panel you choose. It’s usually wise to speak to the collector about this because selecting the proper panel is critical.
Reasons to conduct an opiate drug test
There are several reasons to conduct an opiate drug test, depending on the circumstances. In all cases, it’s essential to follow your documented drug testing policy. Failure to do so can result in invalidated test results and/or HR-related lawsuits. These are avoidable.
Pre-employment drug test
Pre-employment drug testing is the most common reason to conduct a drug test. This is because most employers, at the very least, screen job applicants before hiring them, helping to avoid hiring employees with a drug problem.
Random drug test
A random drug test, as part of a documented drug testing policy, identifies drug test subjects from a random pool of employees. Random testing is typically performed monthly. Surprise is a critical element to this approach. Because they know that they could be tested at any time, random drug testing tends to dissuade employees from drug use.
Post-accident drug test
Post-accident drug testing is conducted, as the name implies, following an accident. This is to determine if drug use played a role in a workplace accident, which protect the employer from liability if drugs played a role. Post-accident testing also helps to dissuade employees from drug use because they know they will be tested in the event of an accident.
Reasonable suspicion drug test
A reasonable suspicion drug test can be conducted when an employer or supervisor has reasonable suspicion to believe that an employee may be under the influence of drugs. Reasonable suspicion may include things like slurred words, lack of coordination, possession of drugs or paraphernalia. These criteria must be covered in the drug testing policy.
Return to duty drug test
Return to duty drug testing is conducted after a positive result, to ensure the employee has not consumed drugs since the last test. This helps prevent drug users from returning to safety-sensitive roles.
DOT drug test
Employers who are required to follow the Department of Transportation’s regulations must conduct a DOT drug test under certain circumstances. Unlike non-DOT drug testing, these employers are required to conduct testing, and it must be in accordance with the updated DOT drug test regulations.
How is an opiate drug test conducted?
Any drug testing method is capable of detecting opiate use. The decision on which method to use is up to the employer, based on the advantages and disadvantages of each. An employer doesn’t, however, have a choice in the method used is when they are bound to DOT drug testing regulations. In these cases, DOT regulations must be followed.
Mouth swab drug test
The mouth swab drug test is a popular opiate drug test method because of its accuracy, simplicity, and convenience. An added bonus is that it’s virtually impossible to cheat since it can be conducted at a moment’s notice, and in plain sight. There is no need for a bathroom or gender-specific collectors, as are required in the process of collecting urine samples. This makes it a great method for non-DOT testing. While his method has the shortest detection window, it can identify drug use almost immediately after use.
To conduct a mouth swab drug test, a collection specialist will rub the inside of the employee’s mouth with a sterile cotton swab to collect a saliva sample. This is fast, easy, and painless. That saliva sample is then secured in a special plastic envelope and either tested instantly on site, or delivered to the lab by the collector. The entire test can be completed in minutes.
Hair follicle drug test
A hair follicle drug test is commonly used for testing people who have a history of opiate abuse. It offers many of the same advantages as a mouth swab drug test, however, it tends to be more expensive. Sometimes dramatically. A significant disadvantage, however, is that some employees may take issue with having their hair cut for a drug test. To avoid this, hair can be collected from other areas of the body. This method offers the longest detection window, and is able to detect drug use for 90 days or more, however, it is unable to detect extremely recent drug use.
A hair follicle drug test is conducted by cutting a small section (about 1 inch) of the employee’s hair, as close to the scalp as possible, to collect a sample. Once the hair sample is secured in a special plastic envelope, the collector will deliver it to the lab for testing. It only takes a few minutes to complete this test.
Urine drug test
The urine drug test is the oldest and most common method for identifying opiate use. While this is the lowest-cost testing method, it also comes with some drawbacks. The most obvious is dealing with someone’s urine. That’s not an appealing idea to most. It also requires gender-specific collectors and a private bathroom for collection. Urine drug testing offers a moderate detection window, and is capable of identifying drug use for up to about 30 days.
A urine drug test is conducted by having the employee urinate into a special bottle, which is then sealed with a cap and covered with a tamper-resistant strip that has been initialed by the employee. The collector then delivers the sample to the lab for testing. This test can usually be completed in minutes, however, if the employee has difficulty urinating, it can take significantly longer.
Opiate / opioid facts
Opiates are named because they are constituents or derivatives of alkaloids found in opium, which is processed from the latex sap of the opium poppy. The major biologically active opiates found in opium are morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Semi-synthetic opiates such as hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone are derived from these substances.
Opiates are a class of drugs that include morphine, heroin and many commonly prescribed pain relievers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that opiates have pleasure-inducing and pain-relieving properties as well as tranquilizing effects; however, due to an increase in tolerance, they may become highly addictive when taken for an extended period of time.
The abuse of prescription painkillers and other opiates including heroin is on the rise in the U.S. The number of prescriptions written for opiates such as OxyContin , Demerol, Percocet and Vicodin has steadily increased in recent years and experts see a direct correlation between this and the incidents of abuse. Combining Opiates with alcohol or other drugs could lead to an overdose.
About 9% of the population is believed to misuse opiates over the course of their lifetime, including illegal drugs like heroin and prescription pain medications such as Oxycontin.
Opiates can cause physical dependency. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent physical symptoms of withdrawal. Some people even withdraw from opiates after having them prescribed for pain while in the hospital without realizing what is happening to them. They often think they have the flu, and because they don’t know that opiates would relive the symptoms, they don’t crave the drug.
Early symptoms of withdrawal include: agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating and yawning. Late symptoms of withdrawal include: abdominal, cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea, vomiting.