Employer-Mandated Drug Testing vs. Home Drug Testing: What to Expect

Many employers may ask you to take a drug test as part of pre-employment screening or to make sure you’re complying with a company drug policy. Don’t worry: it’s completely normal to be anxious before a drug test. But if you know what to expect, you can walk into the drug testing lab with confidence. 


If your prospective (or current) employer is asking you to take a drug test, they’ll most likely ask you to take a urinalysis test. Urinalysis, the study of urine, shows the presence of drug metabolites that remain in the body after drug consumption. Drug testing cups or cassettes are screening devices often used to detect the type of drug and concentration based on a cutoff level.


How is your specimen handled before and after urine collection


Before collection

  1. After you provide your ID and fill out the proper forms, you’ll choose a cup and enter a private restroom to provide a urine specimen. The med tech will record the amount of time you spend in the restroom. It is important that the temperature is read within 4 minutes in order for your specimen to be valid.
  2. The med techs will document any situation that disrupts the collection process. If you refuse to wash your hands, empty your pockets or provide a second specimen (if asked), it’s considered a “refusal to test” and reported to your employer and/or federal authorities. It is not considered a “refusal to test” if you leave the drug testing center before you are given a drug testing cup.

Note: Be sure to tell the med tech collector about any prescription drugs you’re currently taking. Some prescription medications, like painkillers, may cause a false positive reading result.


After collection

  1. The drug testing center will test your urine sample for temperature, color, smell, creatinine, nitrate, pH, specific gravity and other oxidizing agents. Any result outside the range is retested and/or sent for advance testing.
  2. The lab processes the specimens and reports the results to the employer. 


If your test has a negative result, the employer will be notified usually within 48-72 hours. If your test has a positive result, the lab will test it again for accuracy. It’s also important to know that if you’re on prescription medication, there may be a longer turnaround time for your test results. This is because prescriptions need to be validated to override a positive result.


Important things to know about your cassette/cup drug test results


  • Drug testing screening cups or cassettes are either positive or negative. They don’t show the exact concentration of the drug in your system as advance instrument laboratory testing does.
  • A negative result doesn’t mean your body is 100% drug-free: The drug might still be in your system but in concentrations below the cutoff level of the test. A blood or urine advance testing might return a positive result.
  • Cup or cassette urinalysis does not distinguish between drugs of abuse and certain medications, like painkillers and anti-depressants. So, you need to tell the collector about every medication you’re currently taking. 


How to prepare at home for the employer's drug testing


  • Start your detox early.
  • Drink lots of liquids to purge the drug at a faster rate from your body.
  • Exercise regularly or try a sauna.
  • Eat a healthy diet and take multi-vitamins daily.
  • Don’t test if you are overhydrated.
  • Create a smoke-free environment in your home and everywhere you go.


How to avoid failing your employer's drug test


  • Don’t substitute urine with other substances
  • Don’t use online detox products.
  • Don’t overhydrate 24 hours before testing
  • Don’t take pain medicine unless prescribed by a doctor
  • Don’t eat food that could cause a false positive result


It can be scary to take an employer-mandated drug test. There's a lot on the line! So, take the time to educate yourself and track your progress with home drug testing devices. These devices are a great way to monitor your detox and help you pass your employer’s drug test with success.



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