Basic home test kits and the first step in most professional lab tests involve a simple qualitative analysis -- this means the test will determine the presence of a substance above a certain level, but will not determine the exact amount present in the sample. If a qualitative test indicates the presence of a substance, a professional lab test may then perform quantitative analysis to determine precise levels. Different types of drug tests have different tolerances for accuracy. In addition, taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications could affect the accuracy of some drug tests.
How should I prepare for a drug test?
For a common urinalysis drug test, there is little someone needs to do to prepare. Since these tests will require a small amount of urine, you may want to drink an extra glass of water about an hour before providing the sample. Test providers should be informed of any medications you are taking, as some of these might change test results.
How much does drug testing usually cost?
In the case of tests administered for employment, professional sports or parole programs, testing is usually done at the expense of the person or group ordering the tests. At-home testing kits may cost as little as $10 for basic tests, or more than $100 for more advanced types.
Are home drug-test kits safe and accurate?
Home drug-test kits are available from most drug stores and can screen for either a panel of substances or only one specific substance. Home test kits are less advanced than professional lab equipment, so they will indicate the presence of a substance but will not indicate the amount present. Some tests will give a quick, broad preliminary result at home, but can be sent to a lab by mail for more rigorous testing.
How do I get the results of a drug test?
In cases when drug test results are not available within a few minutes, results are often mailed to the employer ordering the test.