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5 Panel or 10 Panel Drug Test: Which Is Better?

5 Panel or 10 Panel Drug Test: Which Is Better?

Pre-employment types of drug testing programs are the most common and widely utilized by employers. It is an important part of your hiring process to ensure a drug-free workplace for your company and your employees. All drug tests come in the form of panels, wherein each panel tests different drugs. There are two types of drug screening test categories. The non-regulated 10 Panel drug test and regulated test uses the standard 5-panel drug test.


5 Panel vs. 10 Panel Drug Test

The 5 Panel Drug Test 

The standard 5 Panel drug test checks for 5 commonly abused drugs. These regulated tests are used exclusively for all Federally Regulated employees and DOT. It is a nationwide standard before employment and randomly throughout the year during the employment period. DOT requires this test for truck drivers at least once a year, after most accidents. If reasonable suspicion exists, a driver is abusing drugs.

Five-panel drug test checks for these commonly abused substances:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines
  • Phencyclidine

If there are no substances detected during this test, it will be categorized as negative. If one of these substances is detected, it will be considered positive. Evaluators may need to do a retest to confirm a true positive or potentially a false-positive result.


The 10 Panel Drug Test 

The 10 panel drug test is one method you can use to test for a broad type of drug in a person’s body. Public and private companies use these non-regulated tests. Panels include 10 drugs: five illicit street substances and five common prescription medications. Normally, a person’s urine is being tested as these drugs leave traces in the urine when it passes through your body.

What type of drugs can this test find?

  1. Marijuana – urine test can detect this type of drug depending on how often you smoke.
    • For first-time smokers, tests may detect it for about 3 days.
    • The detection window is 5–7 days for someone who smokes marijuana more than 3 times a week.
    • For people who smoke marijuana once or twice a day, tests may detect it in their system for 30 days or more.
  2. Cocaine. This drug can last up to 3 days in the body.
  3. Opioids. A urine panel drug test can detect heroin up to 7 days after the last use.
  4. Amphetamines. Typically detectable in urine for one to four days but may take up to 7 days for chronic use.
  5. Phencyclidine/PCP. Urine drug tests can detect this substance for up to 2 weeks.
  6. Benzodiazepines / BZO. 3 days for short-acting (lorazepam); 1 month for long-acting (diazepam)
  7. Barbiturates. Short-acting barbiturates can be detected in urine for 24 hours and long-acting drugs for 2-3 weeks after ingestion
  8. Oxycodone. This can be detected for up to 4 days.
  9. Methadone. Depending on the frequency of substance use, it can last from 4 to 8 hours, but it can take anywhere from 8 to 59 hours for the drug to fully clear from the body. Urine tests can detect it for up to 7 days.
  10. Methaqualone. Urine drug tests can detect this drug up to 72 hours after the last ingested dosage.


The 5 panel drug test is the common choice of employers. However, it may not be enough if your company wants to establish a strict policy for a drug-free work environment. For a more thorough test, consider its 10-panel counterpart.


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