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Everything You Need To Know About 5 Panel Drug Test

As per some of the reports of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), over seventy percent of the individuals abusing illicit drugs in America have employment. Also, the most commonly abused illegal drugs at a workplace are cocaine and marijuana. 


Though the stereotypical depiction of substance abuse conjures up images of a disgraceful rock-bottom moment, the reality is far from it. There is a high chance that an individual struggling with addiction is a high-functioning user of drugs. Thus, employees have no other way than to rely on five-panel drug tests to keep their workplace safe and free from drugs.

What Exactly Is A Five-Panel Drug Test?


All these tests come in the form of panels where every panel is a drug getting tested. So, a five-panel drug test checks for five drugs and a six-panel drug test checks for six drugs, and so on. The question of “what is a 5 panel drug test?” is still not wholly answered because you need to know about the exact substances that the test is for.


A five-panel drug test is typically a test for five commonly abused THC, Opiates, PCP, Cocaine, and Amphetamines. Private employers and government agencies most frequently use this test for employee screening. 


Private employers in the country have the liberty to select the panel test’s scope (five-panel, six-panel, seven-panel, etc.) and the testing specimen (hair, saliva, blood, or urine). But the five-panel drug test is the industry standard that the DOT (Department of Transportation), the Federal government, and the private employers use. Unless a particular substance gets tested, a standard fine panel drug test involves urine testing.

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The Five Drugs Tested Under the Five-Panel Drug Test


Here is a brief discussion on the five drugs tested under the five-panel drug test and the implication on the workplace.

1. Marijuana


The marijuana plant exclusively has Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a naturally occurring substance. It is the plant’s psychoactive component that induces the “high” and gets an individual to feel relaxed and even euphoric. 


Now, potheads are not welcome at any workplace because they usually suffer from:


  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Weakened memory
  • Lack of coordination


2. Cocaine


It is a highly addictive drug known for its stimulant effects. Though many people claim to use cocaine as a cure for depression, the drug is known to cause more depression than cures. The presence of cocaine users in a workplace can lead to a toxic work environment with:


  • Aggressiveness 
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Excitability

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3. Phencyclidine


PCP is a hazardous drug that surgeons once used for anesthesia until they identified the long-lasting effect of this drug. The drug, which is known to give you an out-of-body experience, has no legal use at present.


A few side effects of using this drug are:


  • Euphoria
  • Altered sense of reality
  • Depersonalization 
  • Suicidal tendencies


4. Amphetamines


Individuals tend to take amphetamines to increase productivity and energy, but the results are something different altogether. Commonly used amphetamines are prescription meds like Adderall and Ritalin.


Prolonged abuse of amphetamines can lead to:


  • Impaired thinking
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Violent outbursts


5. Opiates


Over ten million people aged twelve and older misused opioids in 2019. More specifically, nearly 9.7 people abused prescription pain relievers, and the rest were heroin abusers. So, the chances of employers encountering a heroin user are pretty high because there is an opioid epidemic in the country.


Side effects of opiate use include:


  • Lack of coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Poor hygiene
  • Withdrawal sickness

The Legalities of Administering a Five-Panel Drug Test


It would help both employers and employees to have some ideas about the legalities of administering a five-panel drug test. So, there are a few points that you need to keep in mind:


  • Employers might require their employees to pass a screen upon their initial employment.
  • Several states only allow surprise or reoccurring drug tests when documented at the time of hiring.
  • For tamper prevention, employers might take measures like dying the toilet water and checking urine temperature.
  • If any employee refuses to test, it equals a failed test.
  • Most states allow employers to deny unemployment benefits for the ones fired for drug abuse.
  • HIPAA laws don’t apply when it comes to drug testing.

You need to check your state’s legal guidelines on drug testing to know more about this matter.

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What Can An Employer Do In Case Of A Failed Five-Panel Drug Test?


Federal operations need to refer to the employee assistance program and only consider firing after non-compliance. But private and state businesses have no such obligation. They can choose any path that they believe would work the best for their organization.


As such, their options include, but are not limited to:


  • Firing
  • Suspension
  • Opting not to hire
  • Mandating regulated therapy and treatment

Usually, rehabilitation provides a win-win situation for everyone, but the employers can use their discretion depending on the type of drug used by the employee or applicant. Look on website for more details.

The Bottom Line


You always need to take a five-panel drug test seriously. It is almost like checking a criminal record background or a credit score. The tests are the judge of character that can make one earn or lose their dream job. Are you an employer or employee? In both cases, you need to have a clear understanding of the test.

Irena Pavlović

Irena is a dentist, working extensively in her field as well as in the fields of fitness, nutrition and medicine. She has been educated about healthy lifestyles for years, helping others learn as much as possible. She seeks to help people adopt healthy habits as well as healthy and positive thinking about life. In her spare time, she hikes, runs, plays saxophone and guitar, and develops her own health page ( Her life motto is: When they expect a lot from you, you do even more.

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