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What Is a 10 Panel Drug Test?

Many drug tests are performed on a patient's urine.
Ten panel drug tests commonly screen for marijuana.
A 10 panel drug test typically screens for opiates, such as heroin.
Blood testing might be used to test for specific drugs.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2014
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A 10 panel drug test is a urine test screening for the presence of 10 types of drugs. Although these are known drugs of abuse, some can also be legally used to treat legitimate medical conditions. Someone taking this test who legally uses a drug that falls into this category should have medical documentation that demonstrates legal usage. Many people feel the 10 panel drug is superior to other tests like the NIDA-5 because it screens for more drugs and may catch illegal use of many prescription drugs that are readily available.

Drugs normally screened for in a 10 panel drug test are marijuana and hashish, cocaine, phencyclidine (also known as angel dust), opiates like morphine and heroin, methadone, amphetamines and methamphetamines, barbiturates, tricyclic antidepressants, and benzodiazepines. Of these medicines, drugs like morphine, barbiturates, amphetamines, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines may be legally used with a prescription, and marijuana use is legal to treat some medical conditions in some regions.

The typical urine 10 panel drug test doesn’t take very long to perform. Fresh urine is collected and placed on test strips, and a reading is obtained in about five to 10 minutes. This may vary with individual tests. Instructions on reading a test to determine if the results are negative or positive can also vary by manufacturer.

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There are a number of places that might use a 10 panel drug test. Sometimes they’re used by employers who want to screen job applicants. Some government agencies may use them, particularly law enforcement agencies. They may also be used in law enforcement by parole officers to make certain people on parole are not engaging in illegal drug use.

The tests are easily available and some buy them for home use to test family members. Home drug testing runs the risk of being less effective if it is not being used in conjunction with a legitimate drug treatment program. Additionally, the person being tested needs to be cooperative because the test generally relies on collecting urine in a clean container and immediately using it to perform the test.

Other tests screen for additional drugs of abuse, and there are different ways to test for them, including hair follicle or blood testing. Follicle testing may have some advantages over urine testing because it may show drug use from over a longer period of time.

One area of concern with widening the number of drugs searched for in the 10 panel drug test is this issue of testing for medicines that can be legally prescribed. Positive results for benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and antidepressants may reveal medical conditions like attention deficit disorder, anxiety disorder or depression. Even if a person provides documentation for the legal right to use a medicine, concern exists about employer discrimination in the future based on revealing sensitive medical information. Moreover, it’s not clear that employers have to continue to employ someone who uses marijuana, even when prescribed, and a few cases of this nature have attracted national attention.

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