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Drug test glossary

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Drug Test Glossary

This is by no means a complete glossary and terms are being added weekly.


Adulterated specimen:
A specimen that contains a substance that is too high not expected to be present in human urine.


Blind specimen or blind performance test specimen:
A specimen submitted to a laboratory for quality control testing purposes.

The largest and most common group of the synthetic sedative/hypnotics. In small doses, they are effective tranquilizers used in sedation and in relieving tension and anxiety. In larger doses, they are used as hypnotics (sleep inducers). When large dosages are not followed by sleep, signs of mental confusion, euphoria, and even stimulation may occur -- effects that are similar to those of alcohol.

A class of drugs used as antianxiety tranquilizers. Some are used to treat muscle spasms, convulsions, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The most common side effects are drowsiness, confusion, and loss of coordination. In combination with alcohol or barbiturates, these effects are addictive. Included in this class are chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), oxazepam (Serax), and chlorazepate dipotassium (Tranxene).


Cancelled test:
A drug or alcohol test that has a problem identified that cannot be or has not been corrected.

The constituents of marijuana (Cannabis sativa).

Chain of custody (COC):
The procedure used to document the handling of the urine specimen.

A procedure used to identify substances, such as drugs of abuse, in urine. The substance is separated or extracted, allowed to move or migrate along a carrier, and then identified.

An alkaloid refined from the cocoa plant that acts as a powerful short-acting stimulant and is pharmacologically similar to amphetamines. Its effects include euphoria, restlessness, excitement, and a feeling of well-being. Slang names include "coke," "flake," "star dust," and "snow." Freebasing, a process of converting cocaine into a form that can be smoked (usually called crack), involves heating with either lighter fluid or other solvents.

Codeine --
An alkaloid of opium extracted from morphine. Codeine's effects resemble those of morphine but with only one-sixth to one-tenth of the analgesic action. Codeine is commonly found in cough medicine and minor prescription pain relievers.

Collection container:
A container into which the employee urinates.

Collection site:
A place selected by the employer where employees present themselves for the purpose of drug testing.

A person who collects specimens and instructs/assists employees at a collection site.

Confirmation (or confirmatory) drug test:
A second analytical procedure performed on a urine specimen to verify a previous result.

Freebase form of cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride) that is usually smoked. Freebase refers to the absence of inert ingredients used to cut cocaine.

Cutoff level
The concentration of a drug in urine, usually in nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml), used to determine whether a specimen is positive (at or above the cutoff level) or negative (below the cutoff level) for the drug in question.


Diluted specimen
A specimen with creatinine and specific gravity values that are lower than expected for human urine.

The drugs for which tests are required. Includes marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and opiates.

Drug abuser
An individual who uses illegal drugs or legal drugs in excess.

Drug addict
An individual who is unable to discontinue use of drugs.

Drug screen
Testing a specimen for the presence of drugs. A full screen tests for the presence of all categories of drugs. A partial screen tests a specimen for the presence of only those drugs that were found in a particular individual's initial full drug screen or are the most prevalently abused drugs in the local area.

Drug substance
An illegal drug or the metabolite of the drug that appears in urine and can be identified by drug testing.

Drug testing
In this document, drug testing refers solely to urinalysis and not to any other form of analysis such as blood, hair, sweat, or voice inflection.


Any person who is hired by an employer and subject to drug testing and/or alcohol testing.

A person or entity employing one or more employees (including an individual who is self-employed).

EIA -- Enzyme immunoassay. An immunoassay procedure used to identify drugs of abuse in urine by attaching an enzyme tag to the drug in question.

Elimination -- The process by which drugs and metabolites are removed from the body.

External testing -- The testing of urine specimens by professional technologists or technicians at a commercial laboratory located away from probation or parole facilities.


False negative -- Report that a drug or metabolite has not been detected when the drug or drug metabolite is present in the specimen.

False positive -- Report that a drug or metabolite has been detected when the drug or drug metabolite is not present in the specimen.

FPIA -- Fluorescence polarization immunoassay. An immunoassay procedure used to identify drugs of abuse in urine by attaching a tag that glows or fluoresces to the drug in question.


Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS):
Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. A specialized form of gas chromatography used in conjunction with mass spectrometry. GC/MS is considered the method of choice for the unequivocal identification of a drug.


Hair drug test
Hair drug tests generally need about 50 strands of hair. The hair sample should be collected at an accredited lab with full chain of custody documentation. The hair is then sealed into a container until the hair drug test is performed. The hair drug test itself involves dissolving the hair in some type of chemical which will release toxins in the hair. The toxins are then analyzed for drug use.

Hallucinogens -- A major classification of natural and synthetic drugs whose primary effect is to distort the senses. These drugs can produce hallucinations or experiences that depart from reality. Included in this classification are lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA, MDMA), mescaline, peyote, PCP, and psilocybin.

Heroin -- A semisynthetic opiate derivative used in a variety of cough and cold preparations. Its abuse potential is between that of codeine and morphine.

HPLC -- High-performance liquid chromatography. A method that used liquids to separate drugs and metabolites to detect drugs in a specimen.

HPTLC -- High-performance thin-layer chromatography represents a specialized form of TLC developed for drugs that appear in low concentrations in urine.


Initial drug test:
The test used to differentiate a negative specimen from one that requires further testing.

Immunoassay -- A procedure used to identify substances, such as drugs of abuse, in urine, based on the competition between tagged and untagged antigens to combine with antibodies. The uncombined, tagged antigen is an indicator of the drug present in the urine specimen.

Initial validity test:
The first test used to determine if a specimen is adulterated, diluted, or substituted.

Invalid drug test:
The result of a drug test that contains an unidentified adulterant or an unidentified interfering substance that prevents the laboratory from completing or obtaining a valid drug test result.

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Any U.S. laboratory certified by HHS under the National Laboratory Certification Program.

Laboratory testing -- The testing of urine specimens by professional technologists or technicians at a commercial laboratory.


Medical Review Officer (MRO):
A person who is a licensed physician and who is responsible for receiving and reviewing laboratory results.

Mass spectrometer -- A detection device that specifically identifies and quantifies the constituents of complex fluid mixtures. It is usually used in conjunction with a gas chromatograph.

Metabolism -- The action of enzymes to alter a drug chemically and facilitate its removal from the body.

Metabolite -- The product of metabolism.

Methadone -- An opioid used in the maintenance treatment of heroin dependency because it prevents heroin withdrawal symptoms and fulfills the addict's physical need for the drug.

Methamphetamine -- A central nervous system stimulant similar to amphetamine sulfate but more potent. It is a member of the amphetamine class and is preferred by habitual amphetamine users. In intravenous form, it produces an almost instantaneous onset of the drug's effect. Slang names include "meth," "speed," and "crystal."

Methaqualone -- Nonbarbiturate sedative/hypnotic that produces sleep for about 6 to 8 hours. It also produces muscular relaxation, feelings of contentment, and total passivity.

Morphine -- The principal active ingredient in opium. It is considered by some to be superior to other pain relievers.


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

Nanogram -- One billionth of a gram.

Narcotic -- Medically, usually refers to any drug that dulls the senses. It produces a sense of well-being in small doses and causes insensibility, stupefication, and even death in large doses.

Negative results -- Test results indicating a drug is not detected at or above the threshold of a test.

Negative Result:
The test sample reports no drug use.


Oral drug test:

OTC -- Over-the-counter drug available without a prescription.

Oxycodone -- A semisynthetic morphine derivative used as a pain reliever. Trade names include Percodan, Percocet-5, and Tylox.


Positive Result:
The drug test reports the use of drugs.

PCP -- Phencyclidine. A powerful depressant used illicitly for its hallucinogenic properties. It is most often smoked after being sprinkled on parsley, marijuana, or tobacco. Side effects include agitation, irritability, extreme excitation, visual disturbances, and delirium. Slang terms include "angel dust," "crystal," "super week," "rocket fuel," and "goon."

Positive result -- Drug detected at or above the threshold of a test.

Presumed positive -- A specimen identified at or above the screening test threshold but not yet subjected to confirmation testing.

Primary specimen:
In drug testing, the urine specimen bottle that is opened and tested by a first laboratory to determine whether the employee has a drug or drug metabolite in his or her system.


Qualitative -- Chemical analysis to identify the components of a mixture.

Quantitative -- Chemical analysis to determine the amounts of proportions of a mixture.


Random drug test:

Random sampling (collection) -- Obtaining juvenile urine specimens for testing without the juvenile's prior knowledge of when a specimen will be requested. This means unscheduled testing and should not be confused with the classic research design definition.

Return to duty drug test:

RIA -- Radio immunoassay. An immunoassay procedure used to identify drugs of abuse in urine by attaching a radioactive tag to the drug in question.


Saliva drug test
Saliva drug testing, aka mouth or oral swab drug testing, can generally detect drug use in the last few days. This makes slaiva drug testing excellent for post-accident drug testing. The test involves taking a swab of saliva from the individual and sending it off to a lab for testing. Saliva is based on the blood so they can be difficult to beat without some type of adulterant.

Screening test -- An initial test that is used to detect drugs of abuse in urine. Screening tests are less expensive and not as accurate as confirmation tests.

Specimen bottle:
The bottle that, after being sealed and labeled according to the procedures in this part, is used to hold the urine specimen during transportation to the laboratory.

Shy Bladder:
Generally, the term "shy bladder" refers to an individual who is unable to provide a sufficient specimen either upon demand or when someone is nearby during the attempted urination.

Specificity -- The ability of a procedure to react only with the drugs or metabolites being tested and to exclude other substances. A specific procedure is rarely positive if a substance is truly absent; thus, few false positive results will occur.

Split specimen:
In drug testing, a part of the urine specimen that is sent to a first laboratory and retained unopened, and which is transported to a second laboratory in the event that the employee requests that it be tested following a verified positive test of the primary specimen or a verified adulterated or substituted test result.

The practice of temporarily removing an employee from the performance of safety-sensitive functions based only on a report of a positive test result from the MRO. Ttive test result documentation is he employee is told to 'stand down' until the positive test result is received.

Substituted specimen:
A specimen with creatinine and specific gravity values that are so diminished that they are not consistent with human urine.


THC -- Tetrahydrocannabinol. The primary psychoactive compound present in marijuana.

THC Drug Test -- Drug testing for the use of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. A THC drug test can be performed either on hair, urine, saliva, sweat or blood.

Threshold -- A defined urine, drug, or metabolite concentration; a value at or above threshold indicates a positive result, and a value below indicates a negative result. Also called the cutoff.

TLC -- Thin-layer chromatography. A chromatographic procedure used to identify drugs of abuse in urine using a thin layer of material such as silicon as a carrier. The separated substances are dyed, and the resultant color and migration patterns are used to identify the drugs in question.


Urine drug test
Also known as urinalysis, this procedure requires that one provide a sample of urine.

In some instances a urine drug test is performed on site with a 'dip stick' which is dipped in the urine sample and a chemical reaction occurs. If this tests positive then generally a second confirmation urine test is performed with ggas chromatography/mass spectrometry (also known as GCMS), high performance liquid chromatography or immunoassay analysis. at a certified lab.

The chemical analysis of urine to determine the presence or absence of substances. In the criminal justice setting, the substances being determined are drugs of abuse.


Verified test:
A drug test result or validity testing result from a laboratory that has undergone review and final determination by the MRO.


Workplace drug testing


'X' or ecstasy

Y, Z