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What Does a 15-Panel Drug Test Test For?

Drug Test

Are you needing to screen people for employment purposes? Or do you need to intervene on behalf of someone who is struggling with drug addiction? Then you’ll want to explore different types of drug tests.

With accurate drug testing, you can help avoid dangerous situations and identify individuals who need drug rehabilitation. Read on to learn what a 15-panel drug test tests for!

What Drugs Are Covered in the Test?

15-panel tests provide a comprehensive look at what substances may be in someone’s system. For employers and those working in drug rehabilitation, these tests are an essential tool. 

These tests can look at whether drugs like cocaine, marijuana, or opiates, like morphine, are in someone’s system. They test for drugs such as amphetamines, barbiturates, tramadol, and fentanyl. Other drugs include phencyclidine, benzodiazepines, oxycodone, and tramadol.


Drugs like methadone and oxycodone also are included in these advanced drug tests, as well. Though many drugs are used to treat addictions, those drugs can become addictive themselves. Painkillers or other sedatives, for instance, can be included in larger drug panel tests.

Some 15-panel tests look at narcotics or drugs like ketamine, too. These drugs can impact an employee’s performance, causing them to be forgetful or oblivious to what’s happening around them. 

How much of a drug a person uses or how frequently they use it may impact whether the drug use shows up in the results. Likewise, a person’s size may impact whether the drug shows up. In general, however, if someone is abusing drugs, it will show up in their attitude and performance, regardless of whether they’ve been tested yet.

Look into Different Types of Tests

When it comes to administering a 15-panel drug test, there are different ways to do so. For instance, one option is a hair follicle drug test. This test is particularly useful because it can test for the presence of drugs for as long as three months.


In other words, if someone used marijuana up to 90 days earlier, it may be present in their hair. This span of time helps employers catch individuals who might try to prepare and cleanse their systems for drug tests. Hair follicle tests need about 100 strands of hair for testing. 

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Another option is a urine test. This common option detects the presence of drugs in an individual’s urine quickly. And it can catch drug use that may have happened up to a week earlier. 

In addition, some places may use oral fluid tests. These tests capture drug use in a shorter window of time. That window can stretch up to 48 hours. 

With oral fluid tests, people may need to avoid eating and drinking for about 10 minutes before the test. This is to help ensure the accuracy of results. Otherwise, food or mouthwash can interfere.


Be Aware of Testing Limitations

While a 15-panel screening test is useful, it does have some drawbacks. Like many medical tests, there is the risk of getting false positives or negatives. And a lot depends on the circumstances surrounding the administration of the test.

If the test is not administered properly, these inaccurate results can happen. Additionally, tests can interact with other substances in a person’s system to yield inaccurate results.

Maybe someone did not avoid drinking or eating before an oral fluid test, for instance. In these situations, it’s important to follow up with another test or conversation. 

Employers should set cut off levels for different types of drug tests, too. For example, alcohol consumption typically comes with a cut off level. If anyone measures above that level, they may be impaired and unable to perform their work functions.


Other types of drugs also need cut off limits. If someone tests above a certain limit for marijuana, for instance, then they may not be able to work. If this happens routinely or for multiple drugs, it could mean that person loses their job.

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Cut off levels can vary from one workplace to another, however. This makes it harder to maintain consistency from one place to another. And employers with higher cut offs may end up with employees whose ability to work suffers, even if they test negative. 

Further, drug tests may measure levels at the moment, but they can’t prevent future drug abuse. Organizations are advised to use regular monitoring and offer educational programs so employees know about the dangers of drug use. 

Know When to Use Drug Testing

There are different scenarios where drug testing is valuable or essential. One of the most common places to find drug testing is in the workplace. After all, you want your workers and those they serve to be safe. 


Drug tests can be used in the screening process as a condition of employment after an interview. Employers also can do them annually as part of a physical examination. This is particularly useful for individuals who will be operating equipment or interacting with customers. 

Employers can use random drug testing to ensure that employees are not engaged in appropriate behavior. Or if a manager notices behavior that may suggest drug use, they can explore suspicion-based testing. 

Random testing can catch individuals who might try to abstain from drug use in preparation for a known test. For instance, someone may wonder, how long is fentanyl in your system? And they may learn that after a day it won’t be as likely to show up in a drug test.

Drug testing also can be useful in educational settings to keep employees and students safe. Further, drug testing opens up the opportunity to educate students about the dangers of drug use. When students are aware of the reality of drug testing in the workplace, as well, they might reconsider using drugs. 


Understand the Value of a 15-Panel Drug Test

A 15-panel drug test can help anyone test for various substances in their system. These tests are a helpful tool when screening employees or creating a healthier workplace. With proper administration, drug testing can help ensure a safe environment and help identify those who need support. 

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For more articles covering health information, check back soon!

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