What Is A 5 Panel Drug Screening And How Does It Work?

What is a 5 panel drug screening and how does it work? Can you implement it into your drug testing strategy at your business?

If you’ve participated in a hiring process lately, whether as the employer or the employee, you’ve run across drug testing protocols. Many jobs require a drug test of any potential employees. These tests can vary in type and in how many drugs are tested.

If you’re hiring for a government job, your applicants may need to undergo a hair test, but in most cases, a simple urine test is all that is required. The most common urine test is a 5 panel drug screening. As you might guess, a 5-panel screening covers 5 drugs; a 7-panel drug screening covers 7 drugs, and so on and so forth.

Below, we’ll talk about what drugs are covered by a 5 panel drug screening, what they do, and how long they will show up on a standard urine test.


The first drug tested on a 5 panel drug screening is cocaine. Generally, cocaine is sold as a white powder that can be inhaled. It’s very common, however, to see cocaine mixed with another similar looking powder (baby powder or baking soda, for example) which can act as a filler.

Cocaine is a stimulant and an appetite suppressant. It is frequently seen used by people who need to stay up all night for work or school, or by all-night partygoers. It can also cause extreme and dangerous weight loss.

Cocaine is classified as a schedule 2 drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse. It can show up in the urine for up to 3 weeks, though in most cases, it will be detectable for 2-4 days after a binge. The length of time it can show up on a 5 panel drug screening depends on how long the person has been using, how much they took, and how pure the dose was.


Amphetamines are usually produced in pill form, though they are often crushed and inhaled by users. Like cocaine, they are frequently mixed with other fillers. Among the most commonly abused amphetamines is Adderall, a prescription ADHD medication that has seen a huge black market popularity with college students.

Like cocaine, amphetamines are a stimulant, though rather than causing the rush cocaine does, these drugs let users stay awake and focused for longer. They are also considered a schedule 2 drug and are considered highly addictive.

Amphetamines are usually detectable in urine for 1-3 days after use, though like cocaine, this depends on a variety of factors.

Methamphetamine is a subset of amphetamines and is usually found in a crystal or powder form. When a user takes it for the first time, they get a huge rush, but each time they use it again, they need more to get the same high.

This makes the drug very addictive and dangerous.


Opiates originate from the poppy plant and are used both in medical treatment (morphine) and illegal drugs (heroin). They can be smoked, inhaled, or injected, and they are a relaxer. Users feel calm and often have a sense of euphoria.

Because heroin is injected, it falls under the classification of a schedule 1 drug, the highest restriction rating in the United States. The use of needles means that heroin users are more likely to get transmittable diseases, including HIV or AIDS. Like meth, heroin addiction is extremely powerful.

Opiate addiction has become a crisis in the United States, not because of heroin use, but because of how often legal opiates (morphine, Vicodin, etc.) are prescribed for pain control. These medicines, as well as poppy seeds, can cause a positive result on a 5 panel drug screening. Heroin can usually show up in the urine for up to a week after use.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC is exclusively found in the marijuana plant. There are a variety of ways THC can be consumed, including smoking or in edible forms (brownies being among the most popular). There are also some synthetic drugs, such as Marinol, that have THC in them.

THC is a relaxer and tends to make a user feel very laid back and euphoric, though it is possible to have anxiety or paranoia as a reaction. Marijuana is not very habit forming, though it can impact brain function and motivation with enough use. Still, THC qualifies as a schedule 1 drug.

Some states have started to explore the possibilities of marijuana as a medical product, while some others have legalized it for recreational use. However, it is still included in most 5 panel drug screenings. THC can show up in the urine for up to 45 days after use.

Phencyclidine (PCP)

PCP is a synthetic drug that originally functioned, and still functions, as an animal tranquilizer. It is usually found in a powder or a yellowish liquid that users can inhale or inject. It is also known as “angel dust.

PCP causes hallucinations and out of body experiences, as well as euphoria and a sense of superhuman strength of skill. Severe use can cause a state similar to schizophrenia. Because PCP is used legally in veterinary practices, it qualifies as a schedule 2 drug, with no legal uses for humans.

PCP is one of the less widely-used drug in the United States, which is another part of the reason it is a schedule 2 drug, rather than schedule one. Side effects can include aggression, confusion, disorientation, drooling, seizures, brain damage, and coma. It can show up on a 5 panel drug screening for up to two weeks after use.

Getting a Reliable 5 Panel Drug Screening Kit

5 panel drug screenings are extremely common in hiring processes these days, especially for government jobs. They are also used in job industries like pharmacy and medicine, where employees work around controlled substances on a regular basis. If you are an employer in a field that uses drug screenings, you need to be able to rely on the tests you’re using.

Visit Rapid Detect, Inc. for the best, easiest-to-use drug tests on the market. They offer a variety of drug screenings, from 1 panel all the way up to 14 panels. Their 5 panel drug screenings are reliable and simple to use.

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