What is the Nida-5 Drug Test?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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The Nida-5 is also known as the National Institute of Drug Abuse-5 panel drug test, or the SAMSHA-5. It is a test that uses a urine sample to look for the presence of several potentially illegal or mind-altering drug substances. The Nida-5 screens for marijuana, PCP or phencyclidine, amphetamines, cocaine and opiates (principally heroine and morphine). Not all of these substances are illegal — many drugs for attention deficit disorder may have amphetamines. Yet for a basic sense of whether drug use of some kind is occurring, people may turn to the Nida-5 in a variety of settings.

While it is possible to get a Nida-5 panel for home use, and where it may come with instructions on reading the test, most often this test is in use by businesses and sometimes by people in the medical profession. Businesses may utilize the test as part of pre-employment hiring practices to rule out applicants who would appear to be regular users of an illegal drug. Given that this test can rule in several legally prescribed medications, it would be appropriate to inquire about how to present information that justifies a positive response on part of the test. Similar information might be needed should employers perform routine drug testing on all employees, which is another common use of the panel.


Nida-5 does rule out what are called the five main drugs of abuse, but there are plenty of drugs it doesn’t scan for that may still be abused regularly. Even though drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone are commonly abused prescription drugs, they don’t show up on Nida-5 results. Nor do medications like prescription tranquilizers or most barbiturates. When drug testing must be exact and especially when employees perform any jobs that risk the lives of others, employers may chose 10-panel or greater tests to make certain to rule out almost all drug abuse.

Some people have interest in Nida-5 home use kits to either check their own urine drug levels after they have used a drug it tests for, or to use the test on people in their own home that they suspect may be using drugs. These are easy to find on the Internet. Yet with either scenario, though a test certainly can be purchased for such purposes, seeking medical guidance could be of greater use.

Eliciting the cooperation of someone to take a urine test might be more useful in addressing the problem if drug use has occurred. It bears repeated mention that the test doesn’t screen for all drugs in any case, so it cannot rule out drug abuse. A doctor or laboratory has more extensive testing materials and may look for the presence, through blood or urine testing, of other drugs that may have been used.


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