Employee drug testing is a measure that aims to prevent the use of illicit drugs in the workplace, to keep this environment safe and healthy for all. It also discourages workers from drugs and alcohol abuse and allows quick actions to combat with such problems when part of an ongoing drug and alcohol policy coupled with actions such as random drug tests. In some circumstances of pre-employment, drug testing could help the employer to know the fit-for-work of a potential employee. Finally, drug testing is an important measure to take by the company to comply with regulation and potentially have discounts on the employees’ insurance premiums. (Learn more in "8 Things Employers Should Know about DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing".)

Because of small space on drug testing kit packages, drug tests usually mention only drug abbreviations. Knowing the abbreviations, slang names, and details (such as the dangerous effects they cause) of the drugs they represent can help you, as an employer, better understand the risks and reasons for testing for these specific substances. Whether you use 5-panel, 7-panel, or other testing, knowing the risks and exactly what you are testing for is vital to safe workplace. (Learn more in "Drug Test Types: 5, 7, and 12 Panel Urine Screening Differences and Reasons to Use" and "What drugs are part of a non-DOT 5 panel drug test?".)

Barbiturates

Abbreviation: BAR

Barbiturates are used as sedative, hypnotic and anticonvulsant. They can lead to physical dependence in the long term with an increase of the effective dose level. And they are commonly known as barbs, Barbies, sleepers, blue bullets, blues, pink ladies, pinks, and blockbusters.

Effect duration: 15min-3h for short-acting barbiturates (thiopental sodium) and 6- 8 hours for long-acting ones (phenobarbital).

Excretion: less than 5% unchanged in urine.

Urine detection: 24h for short-acting molecules (pentobarbital) to 3 weeks for long-acting ones (phenobarbital).

Urine screening cutoff level: 300ng/ml

Benzodiazepines

Abbreviation: BZO

This class of medication is generally prescribed to treat sleep disorders and anxiety. It can imply a physical dependence in the long run and the need of higher doses than the therapeutic doses. It includes several drugs such as alprazolam, benzodiazepam, bromazepam, chlordiazepoxide, clobazam, clonazepam, clorazepate, diazepam, estazolam, flunitrazepam, flurazepam, lorazepam, nitrazepam, oxazepam, quazepam, temazepam, and triazolam.

Effect duration: varies according to the dose and the drug (i.e 12-24h for diazepam)

Excretion: in urine, conjugated as metabolites. Original molecules can be found as traces.

Urine detection: 3 days for short-acting drugs and up to 1 month for long acting molecules.

Urine screening cutoff level: 300 ng/ml.

Cocaine

Abbreviation: COC

Cocaine, commonly known as coke, dust, or snow, is a stimulant and a local anesthetic, which is inhaled (sniffed), injected, or smoked.

Effect duration: 1-2h for the main effects, depending on the dose.

Excretion: in urine, metabolized.

Urine detection: cocaine metabolites are detectable up to 2 to 4 days.

Urine screening cutoff level: 300 ng/ml.

Amphetamine

Abbreviation: AMP

Amphetamine is a drug prescribed or used illegally, with similar effects of MDMA and mAMP. It is commonly known as dexedrine, uppers, speed, benny, dexy, louee, goey, whizz, pep pills. sulph, Billy, or phets.

Effect duration: 2-4h.

Excretion: 30% urinary, mainly unchanged.

Urine detection: 48h.

Urine screening cutoff level: 1000ng/ml.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine or Ecstasy

Abbreviation:MDMA or XTC

MDMA is a drug with high potential of psychic and physical dependence. Its uptake is related to its capacity to boost mood, give the sensation of euphoria, time distortion, perception alteration, and empathy. It is often called x, e, Eve, Adam, love drug, or Molly.

Effect duration: 3-5h.

Excretion: MDMA or metabolites.

Urine detection: 2-4 days.

Urine screening cutoff level: 500 ng/ml.

Methamphetamine

Abbreviation: MET/MAMP

It is an illegal drug that induces strong psychic and physical dependence. It is similar to amphetamine but with a higher effect on the brain. Its intake is generally oral, using injection or by inhalation. Methamphetamine’s popular names include Tina, Christina, speed, and Quartz.

Effect duration: 2-4 h.

Excretion: in urine, unchanged or metabolized.

Urine detection: for 3-5 days, depending on urine pH level.

Urine screening cutoff level: 1,000 ng/ml.

Opiates

Abbreviation: OPI

This category regroups all the drugs derived from opium (legal and illicit), including morphine, codeine, and heroin. There are several slang terms for opiates including: Aunti, Aunti Emma, Big O, Black hash, Buddha, Chinese molasses, Chocolate, Dopium, Mud, and Smack. (Learn more in "Prescription Opioids and Safety Sensitive WorkPrescription Opioids and Safety Sensitive Work".)

Effect duration: Depends on several factors, including the opiate itself, the dose, the administration mode and previous exposure (i.e. Heroin effect can last 3-5 hours overall and morphine 4-6 hours).

Excretion: unchanged or metabolites.

Urine detection: Up to 4 days depending on many factors, including the nature of opiate taken.

Urine screening cutoff level: 300ng/ml.

Opioids is an umbrella term regrouping opiates (derived from opium) with other molecules that have a similar action mechanism in the body. The most frequently tested opioids are described below:

1. Morphine

Abbreviation: MOP

Morphine can be prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain or used illegally by inhalation, injection, or orally. Overdose can be fatal.

Effect duration: 4-6h, depending on the dose and mode of administration.

Excretion: Unchanged (10%), metabolite (75% morphine-3-glucuronide (M3G))

Urine detection: 72h or longer, depending on the dose taken.

Urine screening cutoff level: 300 ng/ml.

2. Oxycodone

Abbreviation: OXY

Oxycodone is used as moderate to severe pain reliever, especially after birth delivery, surgery, and for dental pain. It has also an illegal use, in which context it is called oxy, Hillbilly heroin, Oxycotton, OC, or killers.

Effect duration: 3-6h.

Excretion: mainly in urine, unchanged (19%) or metabolites.

Urine detection: 2-4 days.

Urine screening cutoff level: 100 ng/ml.

3. Methadone

Abbreviation: MTD

MTD is an opioid prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain or to treat opiate dependence. It is also known as juice or green.

Effect duration: 12-48h.

Excretion: mainly unchanged (5 to 50%) or metabolized.

Urine detection: 3 days.

Urine screening cutoff level: 300 ng/ml.

4. Propoxyphene

Abbreviation: PPX

Propoxyphene’s oral form is prescribed to relieve pain. However, it can be used illegally. Long term use can lead to coma.

Effect duration: 4-6h.

Excretion: mainly in urine.

Urine detection: 6-48h.

Urine screening cutoff level: 300ng/ml.

Phencyclidine

Abbreviation: PCP

Phencyclidine is an illicit drug used in powder, capsule or tablet. Generally inhaled, less frequently injected or swallowed. Slang terms include angel dust, and Cadillac.

Effect duration: major effects start decreasing in 4-6h. Other effects, including schizophrenia, can last up to 1 month.

Excretion: unchanged (4 to 19%) or metabolites.

Urine detection: 4-6h after use to 14 days.

Urine screening cutoff level: 25 ng/ml.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Abbreviation: TCA

TCA is usually used to treat depression in its oral form or injections. Overdose from TCA is the most common cause of death from prescription drugs. Trade names include Vivactil, Anafranil, Janimine, and Tofranil.

Effect duration: it takes 2-4 weeks before easing depression symptoms and generally prescription cycles are for months.

Excretion: urinary, metabolites mainly.

Urine detection: up to 10 days.

Urine screening cutoff level: 1000ng/ml.

Marijuana / Tetrahydrocannabinol/ Cannabis

Abbreviation: THC

THC is the main active substance of cannabis. (Learn more in "Medical Marijuana Law Differences and Contradictions".) Generally smoked, but it can also be swallowed. Slang terms include pot, weed, grass, smoke, dope, ganja, reefer, Mary Jane, and Aunt Mary.

Effect duration: 1.5-2h after one cigarette.

Excretion: About 65% in the feces and 30% in urine in the form of metabolites.

Urine detection: from 3 days after a single use to one month for long-term heavy smokers.

Urine screening cutoff level: 50ng/ml.

Other abbreviations found in drug testing kits

Active substance

Abbreviation

Alcohol

ALC

Buprenorphine

BUP

Cotinine

COT

2-ethylidene-1,5-dimethyl-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine

EDDP

Fentanyl

FTY

Ketamine

KET

Tramadol

TRA

Other abbreviated terms


Oxidants (Bleach)

OX

Specific Gravity

SG

pH

pH

Nitrate

NI

Glutaraldehyde

GL

Creatinine

CR