Everything You Need to Know About How 5 Panel Drugs Tests Work

If you’re looking for a fool-proof way to drug test employees, a 5 panel drug test is perhaps your best option. Click here to learn how the test works.

In 2014, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. reported that the estimated 10.3 million working Americans who use illegal drugs cost employers $81 billion each year.

Four years later, nothing suggests significant changes for the better in this trend, which means that you need to protect your company from loss.

How Do Drug Users Create this Magnitude of Loss?

Drug users can impact the workplace in a multitude of ways that lead to damage and loss for the company. Some of the damaging consequence activities include:

  • poor job performance
  • consistent tardiness
  • persistent absences
  • theft
  • illicit buying or selling of drugs on company grounds
  • injury
  • death

Any of these probable consequences can hurt the company on their own and lead to frustration and subsequential poor performance by the other employees. Prevention is key.

How Can I Avoid Hiring Drug Users?

A 5 panel drug test offers employers an effective way to protect their company from the detrimental consequences of drug users by weeding them out during the application process!

What Is a 5 panel drug test?

It’s the drug test of choice for most employers across the country and the one used by the Federal government’s mandatory drug testing guidelines. More specifically, it is a 5 panel urine drug test that detects 5 types of drugs.

Let’s break it down by looking at the drugs a 5 panel test searches for and discussing their significance to the workplace.


THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Though legalization looks probable for many states because the drug does not tend to kill people or create serious health problems, you still may not want potheads working for you because the workplace could suffer from potential:

  • fatigue
  • paranoia
  • impaired memory
  • lack of coordination
  • slow reaction time
  • fuzzy thinking

None of these characteristics scream employee of the month and all create the potential for injury at work. However, employers in the following states cannot legally fire employees 21 or older for using marijuana, unless they work under the influence:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island

If you live in one of these states, knowing who uses still helps you keep an eye out to ensure they do not show up high.


We live amidst an opioid crisis with a 2016 estimation of 11.5 million people abusing pain medications and 98,000 using heroine, in the United States. Chances are, you will encounter an opiate user.

Some commonly abused opiates include heroin, opium, fentanyl morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, and methadone. Implications for the workplace could be caused by the following side effects:

  • poor hygiene
  • little motivation
  • lack of coordination
  • sedation
  • hallucination
  • euphoria
  • withdrawal sickness
  • death from overdose

Opiate users, especially heroin users are very likely to steal. These are not employees, but liabilities that the 5 panel drug screed will eliminate.


Cocaine users often referred to as partiers, tend to sleep very little and behave erratically. Hardcore users abuse this drug in the form of crack and create a larger danger to the workplace.

Like opiates, this drug holds a high potential for addiction. They create a toxic work environment with:

  • excitability
  • aggressiveness
  • paranoia
  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • withdrawal sickness
  • the potential for heart attack

Aside from the obvious risks cocaine users pose, they also create a high potential for theft because of the nature of the addiction. During a period of discontinued use, they tend to feign for the drug and will take any measure to get more.


Amphetamines make up another class of dangerous stimulants. Commonly abused amphetamines include the prescription medications Ritalin and Adderall, and the drug ephedrine.

Abusers often take these drugs with the intention of increasing energy and productivity. However, consequential side effects of this drug class include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • hostility
  • severe anxiety

And over time…

  • impaired thinking
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • violent outbursts
  • convulsions

Clearly, outcome outweighs intention under these circumstances.

Methamphetamines, though still an amphetamine, get categorized separately because this group tends to create a higher potential for abuse and more severe consequences. While amphetamine abusers typically include exhausted moms and stressed college kids, the meth addicts typically start using with the intention to feel high and party.

Methamphetamines include MDMA, also known as Molly or ecstasy, and crystal meth. “Meth Heads” characteristically:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • violent behavior
  • grossly poor hygiene
  • psychotic behavior

Definitely, a class of drugs that make an employer thankful for the 5 panel drug test.

Phencyclidine (PCP)

PCP is an incredibly dangerous drug that surgeons used to use for anesthesia until they recognized the profound effects of the drug. Today this drug has no legal use.

Detrimental effects of an employee using this drug include:

  • altered reality
  • euphoria
  • exacerbated ego
  • depersonalization
  • suicidal tendencies

Under no circumstances does a PCP user belong in the workplace. This drug has hit the news with stories of people lifting cars and committing violent crimes, such as cannibalization.

Even after months of not using this drug, flashbacks can occur, making users extreme hazards to your company.

Administering a Five Panel Drug Test

Now I’ve made the why beyond clear, here’s a rundown on legally administering a drug test for prospective and current employees:

  • you may require employees to pass a screen upon initial employment
  • certain states only allow reoccurring or surprise drug tests if documented during the hiring
  • to prevent tampering, you may take measures such as dying the toilet water and checking the temperature of the urine
  • refusals to test equal a failed test
  • most states allow you to refuse unemployment benefits for employees you fire for drug use
  • HIPAA laws do not apply in the case of drug testing

Check your state’s state guidelines on drug testing for more legal information.

How Should I Handle a Failed 5 Panel Drug Test

Federal operations must refer the employee assistance program and only fire after non-compliance. However, state and private business can decide what path works best for the business.

Options include but are not limited to:

  • choosing not to hire
  • mandating regulated treatment
  • suspension
  • firing

Often rehabilitation offers a win-win situation for everybody, but use discretion based on the type of drug(s).

Implement the 5 Panel Drug Test Now

Don’t let others destroy what you worked hard to build. For more information on the 5 panel test, visit our site today!

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