12 Panel Drug Tests: Reasons Why Using 12 Panel Is Recommended

By William Bierlein

Drug tests especially the 12 panel drug test variety have become a norm for reasons ranging from health standards, legal requirements, and work ethics. Some people may oppose drug testing due to issues of privacy infringement, but testing remains legal and at times mandatory due to the implications of substance abuse.

Intoxication impairs a person’s thinking and judgment. Due to the resulting miscalculations, an intoxicated individual causes accidents while driving and when operating heavy equipment. Some go on to embezzle funds or misuse their income as they purchase drugs to quench their cravings.

It would be easy for them to make flawed choices in positions of decision-making while under the influence of intoxicating substances. In all these instances, substance use affects productivity and affects the person’s welfare and society’s well-being.  Some regulators such as driving school assessors and employers ask for drug tests for their candidates and employees. A court also can order a drug test, and a parent or guardian may request the screening of a child for drugs.

Substance use is now a cause for concern with more than 50% of substance users between the ages of 18 and 64 being full-time employees. For those reasons, it becomes imperative to conduct comprehensive drug tests.

Types of Drug Tests

There are different ways of classifying drug tests and the criterion shows the following two perspectives on types of drug tests:

1. The type of Specimen Screened

The nature of these tests depends on the type of specimen collected for screening to detect substance use. The type of specimen determines the detection window of the test. They include the following:

  • Saliva test

Many specimen collectors and testers prefer this test due to the inability to adulterate the specimen. That is because the applicant and the screening officer are in the same room for the collection of the saliva sample and subsequent testing. The arrangement makes it hard for the candidate to submit a fake sample. It is easy to conduct screening like the 12 panel saliva drug test onsite, making this test a convenient option.

  • Hair Follicle Drug Test

In this test, the screening officer collects strands of hair from the applicant. The screener collects hair close to the scalp to get the follicles. The test can confirm the use of illicit substances up to three months back. Hair tests work for screening of drugs like cocaine, marijuana, opioids, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine.

  • Urine Drug Test

The urine sample provided by the candidate shows the use of drugs such as cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, amphetamines, and opioids used up to three days back.

  • Blood Drug Test

Screening officers use blood specimens to detect the presence of alcohol and drugs. The use of blood drug tests is diminishing but this test serves well in detecting cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and opioids.

2. Panel Drug Tests

In this criterion, the classification of drug tests arises from the customization of tests into classes depending on the number of drugs tested per instance. This customizing defines panel drug tests where for example a 7-panel drug test looks for seven different types of drugs in a specimen. However, one candidate’s  composition of the 7-panel drug test could be different from another’s. The panel number shows the number of substances tested.

The modeling of panels tested depends on state regulations, the profession, and the corporate culture. For instance, the legalization of marijuana in some states makes its inclusion in panel testing disputable. There are no legal guidelines on creating drug groupings into panel tests.

Types of Panel Drug Tests

Corporate culture plays a big role in determining the composition of 4-panel tests and 5-panel ones. The difference between the two panels is that the 4-panel does not include marijuana in its list of substances for testing. However, the composition of 4-panel screens could change depending on a review of corporate culture and marijuana legislation. Another variation of 4-panel tests excludes PCP in its list while prescribing tests for cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and opiates.

Examples of typical panels screened include:

  • 6-panel drug test designed to detect Amphetamines or Methamphetamines, cocaine metabolites, barbiturates, and marijuana metabolites such as opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and tetrahydrocannabinol.
  • 7-panel drug test detects the misuse of prescription drugs. The standard 7-panel test on the other hand screens for marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, barbiturates, and cocaine.
  • The standard 10-panel test looks for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCP, Quaaludes, and propoxyphene among others, while the 10-panel test screens candidates employed in occupational medicine and law enforcement as their intoxication could endanger the safety of others.
  • The standard 12-panel test detects marijuana, cocaine, PCP, opiates, methadone, oxycodone, propoxyphene, and benzodiazepines.
  • The 12-panel test stems from the 10-panel test and the screening detects the presence of opiates, controlled substances, and prescription painkillers that could make the candidate a risk in the workplace.

Reasons Why 12 Panel Drug Tests Are the Most Comprehensive Panel

Routine 12-panel drug tests often involve the screening of urine, hair, and saliva specimens to confirm the presence of drug metabolites in the body. The 12-panel drug test is the most comprehensive panel because:

1. It screens for a bigger variety of substances

A urinalysis sample for 12-panel screening looks for active components of 10 substances but with an added option of two more drugs. These ten include barbiturates, PCP, methaqualone, cocaine, benzodiazepines, propoxyphene, methadone, opioids, cannabis, and amphetamines.

2. It is customizable

Although the 12-panel drug test tests for 10 substances, the requesting authority can order the inclusion of the two extra substances: ecstasy or MDMA, and oxycodone or Percoset. This test detects additional painkillers and opiates which may bypass the lower-numbered panels.

3. It considers detection window variations

Different substances have different times of detection or detection windows depending on their half-life and the frequency of their consumption by the candidate. Other factors that affect detection windows include the general health of the candidate, and the quantity and specific type of substance used. Although detection windows are just estimates, the 12 panel urine drug test for example can detect substances imbibed even three months back.

4. It safeguards the integrity of specimens and results

The speed of conducting the tests often determines the integrity of the results. In the case of urinalysis, cases of tampering with specimens such as diluting them end up giving false results. For that reason, many stakeholders opt for the rapid 12 panel drug test where the screening officer conducts the test immediately after collecting the specimen, and the results are availed within minutes after the test.

The tampering of samples is through internal dilution and external dilution. Diluting a collected sample by adding extra fluid to it describes external dilution. internal dilution involves drinking large amounts of water before the test to “flush” the body system. When urine samples show creatinine levels in the range of 2 to 20 milligrams per deciliter, and a level of about 1.003 on specific-gravity tests, the specimen becomes a diluted sample and may give false results including a false positive.

Screening officers can deter dilution by conducting onsite 12 panel drug test schedules that will not give candidates time to engage in any test sample dilution antics.

 

Who is authorized to Conduct Drug Screening?

To curb the illicit use of drugs and their adverse effects, the law allows drug screening in the following circumstances, at times without the consent of the candidate:

  1. Before employment
  2. After an accident
  3. When a worker shows signs of inebriation or engages in unsafe behavior
  4. After a candidate completes a rehabilitation program
  5. As a routine program such as part of annual physical tests

When the need arises, the stakeholder presents the candidate for screening by a medical review officer who is a licensed physician. The physician should have access to a Health and Human Services (HHS) laboratory, and be cognizant of federal drug testing regulations. The reviewing physician will aid in identifying abuse of illegal drugs and offer clinical advisories on the use of non-prohibited prescription medications.

In case the physician proves through the tests that potential risk exists for the candidate and society, he recommends appropriate interventions to ensure the recovery of the candidate and the upholding of the organization’s drug-free policy.

However, due to advances in medical technology, you may opt for the at home 12 panel drug test that does not require you to visit a healthcare institution. Such tests come with clear instructions for ease of use in domestic settings. They are non-invasive tests that give results immediately. Their accuracy is as good as 99% making them reliable not only for use at home but in other situations like workplaces.

The Place of 12 Panel Drug Tests in Society

To prevent and overcome substance abuse and its effects, employers, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders must know their role and mandate in authorizing drug screening. They should seek tamper-proof, reliable, and thorough drug tests like the 12 panel drug test. All organizations must sensitize their members on the importance of a drug-free lifestyle. Candidates too should seek information on their rights concerning submitting themselves for drug screening and any possible repercussions.

Do consult us for more insights and support on panel drug testing options.