Urine drug test kits are user-friendly and reliable drug testing kits that give accurate results. Higher concentrations of various drugs and their metabolites in urine sample make urine drug test kits highly preferable compared to other drug test kits (saliva, blood and hair). Hence, urine test kits are popular for on-site and off-site drug tests.
In this article, we will discuss about some commonly abused drugs. We will also learn about the substances urine test kits detect in urine sample to confirm the drug abuse.
Common drugs of abuse:
Despite the severe restrictions posed by the federal agencies to curb the sale, usage and trade of illicit drugs, some of the drugs are available. Among them NIDA and SAMHSA has identified 5 drugs which are highly abused. These are called as NIDA 5 or SAMHSA 5 drugs consisting of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine, opiates and phencyclidine. Apart from these drugs, nicotine, which is usually smoked in the form of cigarettes, is also found to be the most commonly abused drug.
Urine drug testing – common drug testing method:
Urine drug testing is the easiest and commonly used drug testing method to detect all the above mentioned drugs. This method is highly preferred for conducting drug testing at schools, workplaces, homes and other institutions and places where drug testing is mandated by law. Urine drug testing kits are commonly preferred by people because they are inexpensive, easy to use, accurate, and reliable. They also give results in minutes.
What do urine drug test kits detect?
As most of the drugs that enter into the body are metabolized and are expelled out through urine, urine becomes the most preferred sample for conducting drug tests. Urine drug test kits (available in the form of cups and strips) can detect the drugs and their metabolites by the principle called ‘immunochromatographic drug testing assay’.
Let us now see how urine drug testing method identifies the commonly abused drugs (NIDA-5 drugs) and nicotine using this principle.
THC in marijuana test: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the active ingredient of marijuana is detected by the urine drug test kits. THC is stored in lipid tissues of the body for longer time and is eliminated through urine slowly, which increases its detection period in urine. In case of a casual use, THC can remain in body from one to seven days of abuse, whereas in case of chronic use, it can be detected up to 4 weeks in urine. The cut-off level of THC/marijuana in urine is 50ng/ml (suggested by SAMHSA).
Benzoylecgonine in cocaine test: Cocaine is a highly addictive substance. It is metabolized into benzoylecgonine in the body and is excreted through urine. This metabolite can be generally detected from one to five days of abuse for a casual use. The cut-off level for cocaine in the urine sample, as recommended by SAMHSA is 300ng/ml.
Opiate metabolites in opiate test: Opiates are a group of drugs – opium, morphine, heroin and codeine. All these forms when abused are converted in to the major metabolite called morphine (morphine taken directly stays unmetabolized in the body), which is then excreted through urine. The SAMHSA suggested cut-off level for morphine in urine is 2000ng/ml and it can be detected up to 1 to 5 days of abuse.
Amphetamine in amphetamine test: Amphetamine, the deadly drug, when administered is eliminated through the body in the unchanged form. The detection period for amphetamines in urine is 2 – 4 hours in case of causal use and may vary from 1 to 4 days, based on the amount and frequency of usage. The SAMHSA cut-off level for amphetamines in urine is 1000ng/ml.
Phencyclidine in PCP test: PCP (phencyclidine) when abused is excreted in from the urine in the form of unchanged PCP and other conjugated metabolites. PCP can be detected in urine within 4 to 6 hours of drug abuse and can be detected till 7 to 14 days depending on various factors. The cut-off level for PCP in urine as suggested by SAMHSA is 25ng/ml.
Cotinine in nicotine test: The tobacco or the nicotine usage can be detected through its metabolite, cotinine. Cotinine is one of the various metabolites of nicotine. Cotinine test is mostly preferred to detect the presence of nicotine because cotinine is continuously eliminated from the urine. The SAMHSA cut-off level for cotinine in urine is 200ng/ml and can be detected up to 2 to 4 days on normal usage.
All the above tests are beneficial only for preliminary confirmation. The results obtained from these tests can be further confirmed by the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) chemical methods.