How long does a drug test take & how do you know if you failed? Not all employers will tell you!

Oct 29 , 2018

Drug Test News

How long does a drug test take & how do you know if you failed? Not all employers will tell you!

How do companies drug test?

There are four main methods of drug testing: blood, saliva, urine, and hair. As you can see in the picture below, hair tests go almost 100 days back, because certain drugs stay in your hair for up to 100 days (we've got a bit more info on hair testing here). The other three methods of drugs testing can trace drugs back less than ten days, so let's hope your employer isn't taking this seriously enough to test your hair!
Some companies also use instant drugs testing. These are NOT actually used as drugs tests, but they do give a fairly accurate reading as to whether you’re likely to fail an MRO lab test or not. This method saves employers money, as they can simply instant test everyone, and then only send those who fail the instant test to the lab.

drug test marijuana

drug test weed holiday
Mark your calendars! Photo: @ram_marketing

How long does a urine drug test take?

Drug tests are vital to some employers, particularly in the US. However, it’s certainly not confined to the US, with some jobs in the UK also requiring drug testing. Often you'll find posts with the military or police forces that require drugs testing. If your initial test shows up positive you'll find that the results take longer to come in; this is especially true with a urine test. You can expect a positive result to take about 4-5 days. This is mainly because the lab will ensure whether or not you have shown up as a false positive, and will, therefore, conduct the tests again. The second test is performed using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. These two methods take longer, but are much less likely to be mistaken. 
A negative (and therefore passed) drugs test should only take three business days. This should help you realise whether or not you’ve passed the test. This is by no means concrete, and you shouldn’t give up hope if you haven’t heard anything within four days. Some prescription drugs actually give false positive readings on drug tests, so if you take prescription pills, you may be waiting a long time to know whether you’ve passed or not.

How long does a blood drug test take

This is very similar to urine tests, but they are testing more for drugs that have been consumed within the last 24 or 48 hours. Blood drug tests are normally used as pre-employment methods of drug testing, and will detect most drugs that have been consumed within the last 48 hours. This is the blood testing timeframe. 

How long does a hair drug test take?

Hair testing is different from both urine and blood tests, and is probably the most unethical of all the drugs tests. This is because they are testing for drugs that have been in your body up to 90 days ago. This could mean that they catch drugs that you took before you started the job or when you were out for the weekend. The most ridiculous thing about this is that you can still be drugs tested and negatively impacted in states where marijuana is legal. The hair test itself will take longer than the others at 5-10 business days. Employers like this test because it's less invasive (ie you don’t have to pee into something or get a blood sample taken), but it's also one of the more expensive options for employers to take, so it's really a toss-up as to whether your employer will use it or not. Keep reading for suggestions of how you can find out what type of test you should expect, for if your employer is using the hair test you'll want to know sooner rather than later! 

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Sets of drug tests, photo: @americanscreeningllc

Does an employer have to tell you about drug testing? Will I be notified if I fail a drug test? 

Employers don’t legally have to tell you the results, but most will share results. This is mainly because the applicant or employee will be brought in for further questioning and potential termination of their contract if they test positive for drug usage. That means if you fail a drugs test, you may be getting a call from the lab that conducted the testing. This isn't a guarantee however; they may call your employer first.

MRO drug testing 

MRO stands for Medical Review Officer. The MRO is a physician who is responsible for receiving and then reviewing laboratory test results. They work with employers to ensure that their drug testing is impartial, and it’s incredibly important to MROs that their work is 100% accurate, as obviously they are responsible for peoples’ lives and jobs. The main focus is to ensure that no one is accused of having drugs in their system based on a false positive. Drug tests will not usually lead to the MRO calling you (though they could), but they will instead release the results to your employer. The MRO has final say over the results of a drugs test.

What does a positive drugs test mean?

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You’ll should be able to find at-home drug tests at the store. Photo: @aproperpseudonym
A positive drugs test usually means that you’ve failed the drugs test, and you won’t get the job or you’ll lose your current position. A false positive drugs test means that something else in your body, or in the lab, has indicated a positive drugs test, but this is wrong.

Worknet drug testing 

Worknet is an occupational medicine company, which offers comprehensive drug and alcohol testing. If you have an employee who is an alcoholic, for example, then Worknet will strive to help this employee, and ensure that they’re not drinking. They design testing programs, how to collect specimens, and also how to deal with daily questions and problems from employees. They are fully compliant with all the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. They use proper drugs labs, and they have their own MRO to carry out the actual testing. 

How to pass a laboratory drugs test

We have a full article on this topic that can be found here. However, this video is also a great summary of how to pass a drugs test from an ex-narc. 

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Well, let’s hope this never happens to you! Photo: @my_ego_told_me_to

How to find out if a company does drug tests 

Most state laws require employers to inform (potential and new) employees that they do drug testing. There are, therefore, two ways to find out if a company conducts drugs tests:
  • Ask them (risky, may raise suspicion, just generally in the first few months of a dream job don’t smoke!)
  • Block your number, inquire about jobs at the company, ask if they do drugs tests
Obviously, both of these are less than ideal, another way would be to Google your company name followed by the words drugs test. In general, jobs that require high-level of skills, driving, jobs where peoples’ lives depend on you, and jobs where incredibly high-levels of concentration are required, you will most likely be drugs tested for.

Check out this video for more info on drug tests:

In conclusion

Drug tests are part of the working world; sometimes stoners just can't catch a break! But the more you know about what actually happens with these drug tests, the better prepared you'll be to successfully balance your smoking habits and the job that helps you afford them!

Written by Hamish

Have you had experiences with drug testing? What questions do you still have? Leave us a comment below!


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