How Long Does It Take To Get Drug Test Results? (3 Methods)

Doctor discussing how long it takes to get drug test results to the patient

If your employer has mandated pre-employment drug testing, you may be unsure of how long it will take for the results to be reported.

Employers usually have tight timelines, so familiarizing yourself with the drug testing process can help you plan more efficiently.

After months of thorough research, I can now provide the exact timeline for how long different drug tests will take to show results.

Quick Summary

  • When drug testing for your job, you will likely be requested to provide a urine sample, as they are the most popular form of drug screening.
  • Hair drug testing takes longer than urine drug testing; however, they present the clear advantage of detecting drug use long before collection.
  • As the intensity and frequency of drug use increase, so does its detectability.

How Long Does It Take to Get Common Drug Test Results?

A doctor writing on a paper with drugs on top of his desk

The amount of time it takes to get common drug test results depends on the type of drug test you are taking. Most commonly, it will take between 1 to 10 business days. 

Urine and hair are two popular methods used to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol. Allow me to explain each in further detail.

Drug Test Types

The drug testing method during the screening process can also factor in wait time since some labs may need extra transport and reporting times.

With various pre-employment drug tests available, knowing which type you should use and their average turnaround time is essential. 

The following list includes the most commonly used methods:

  • Urine tests: 1-5 business days
  • Hair tests: 4-10 business days
  • Blood tests: 1-5 business days

Urine Drug Tests

A jar with urine ready for drug testingUrine drug screens can provide speedy results – typically within 1-2 business days of the specimen arriving at the testing lab. If an extra analysis is required, you may have to wait another day or two for a conclusion. 

Urine drug tests are becoming popular due to their ability to generate results instantly. Urine tests are swift, highly reliable, and non-invasive, making them attractive for many contexts, such as workplaces, schools, or rehabilitation clinics.

This type of drug screening proves effective in detecting marijuana, cocaine, opiates, or amphetamines – making urine drug testing the most frequent choice today [1].

Certain employers may mandate a urine drug screen that can detect alcohol or high levels of certain commonly abused prescription drugs, such as opiates and sedatives.

There are two kinds of urine drug tests – the preliminary immunoassay test, which looks for traces of a drug’s metabolites in the urine sample, and the more detailed gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) test.

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Hair Follicle Drug Tests

Taking hair sample for hair follicle drug testWhen it comes to discerning the use of illicit substances, hair follicle drug tests stand out as the most reliable. Unlike other forms of testing, these exams can uncover past drug usage over an extended period.

Of course, this greater accuracy does mean that one has to wait a little longer for results—typically seven to 10 days—but in cases where absolute certainty is necessary, there can be no substitute for a hair follicle test.

Recent studies have determined that drug metabolites can be detected in hair follicles as early as a week following ingestion [2].

This type of testing is remarkably reliable at uncovering chronic substance use since the drug metabolites remain trapped within the core of each strand long-term, even while new growth occurs.

Urine drug screening is superior for detecting spontaneous use and impairment because it provides more up-to-date results.

Hair follicle tests have also become increasingly popular due to their accuracy, although they cannot see current intoxication or usage. Additionally, these hair tests are hard to manipulate or cheat around.

Read More: How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Test?

Other Forms Of Drug Tests

A doctor holding a test tube filled with blood for drug testingWhen assessing potential or current employees’ use of illicit drugs, a blood drug test can be used to detect levels of alcohol and other substances in the bloodstream when it is drawn.

Employers may require blood tests as part of their pre-employment drug screening process or randomly for those in particular fields. Additionally, employers may demand that employees submit to such testing after a workplace accident or injury.

Such examinations can also be conducted periodically following company policy – and if the employer reasonably suspects an employee is impaired on the job – immediate assessments are required.

Factors That Affect How Long Drug Tests Can Take

A doctor examining different test tubes for drug testing

Numerous aspects can dictate how much time you’ll have to wait for the outcome of a pre-employment drug test.

The timeline of your results may vary depending on the following:

  • The type of drug test requested
  • Specific drugs being screened
  • Your lab provider

Nevertheless, suppose you opt for the more thorough ten-panel test (which also looks for alcohol, barbiturates, methaqualone, benzodiazepines, methadone, and propoxyphene). In that case, your results may take another day or two to return.

To ensure the accuracy of a drug screening, you must be mindful when drinking water before taking the test. While too much water can impact your results, detox drinks are great alternatives that may help you pass your drug screen.

“Turnaround times are never exact. There are various factors that can affect turnaround time on any specific specimen.”
Joe Reilly, National Expert on Workplace Drug Testing


How Long Does It Take To Get Results From A Urine Drug Test?

The amount of time it takes to get results from a urine drug test is one to two business days to get your urinalysis results back.

How Long Does It Take For A Ten-Panel Drug Test To Come Back?

It takes a few working days for a ten-panel drug test to come back. The results of your report will be revealed as positive, negative, or inconclusive. A positive finding indicates that there are metabolites within the sample surpassing the test cutoff concentration.

What Happens When A Drug Test Is Sent To A Lab?

When a drug test is sent to a lab, samples are first screened for drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and amphetamines. To ensure the authenticity of the sample, some labs perform more rigorous confirmatory testing to detect any signs of tampering or adulteration.

Do You Want To Pass Your Drug Test?

Understanding when the results from your drug test will arrive is critical, as it permits you to plan and organize ahead, especially if you need this for work.

To be prepared for any random drug testing procedure, I strongly recommend Clear Choice Rescue Cleanse. This detoxification drink helps mask drug use through a dilution process which will help you pass any urine drug test.

Its powerful formula stimulates certain bodily processes that filter and eliminate toxins, allowing you to achieve the results you desire in no time.



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