Urine Drug Test Guide

The Urine Drug Test Summary
What: Urine tests are given to detect the presence of drugs in one’s body.
Who: Anyone can be tested for drugs using a urine test.
Where: Urine tests can be done at home or in a medical facility.
When: Drugs remain in the urine for a period of days, depending on the drug and the use.
How: Urine is analyzed using immunoassay and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Type: Urine is collected in a sterilized cup and analyzed in a lab.
Why: Urine is a non-invasive method to test for the presence of particular drugs.
Time: Results may be made available within hours.
Language: Not applicable.
Preparation: No special preparation is needed for a urine test, though one may wish to drink a glass of water prior to the test.
Cost: Lab fees will vary across the country, though the cost is typically covered by the organization requesting the test. Home test kits range in price from less than $10 to around $100.

By Erin Hasinger, Tests.com


Urine tests are commonly used to check for drug use. They may be used in employment screenings, for athletic qualification or as part of a legal investigation. Urine can be tested in a medical or laboratory facility. Urine test kits are also available for purchase so that consumers can test their own urine at home.


A urine test is often the preferred method for a drug test because it is a non-invasive testing method. Further, drugs are present in urine over a period of several days, as compared to just a few hours of presence in one’s blood. Heavy users of cocaine, for example, could have traces of cocaine in their urine for up to 22 days. The length of time other drugs stay in one’s system range from one to several days:


    ·  Amphetamines: 24 – 48 hours

  • Barbiturates: As long as six weeks
  • Benzodiazepines: Up to six weeks with high level use
  • Cocaine: Two – four days; up to 22 days with heavy use
  • Codeine: One to two days
  • Heroin: One to two days
  • Hydromorphone: One to two days
  • Methadone: Two to three days
  • Morphine: One to two days
  • Phencyclidine (PCP): One to eight days
  • Propoxyphene: Six to 48 hours
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): From six to 11 weeks with heavy use

Urine tests may be used to test for the presence of other drugs, including:


  • Marijuana
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methylenedixoymethamphetamine
  • Opiates
  • Oxycodone
  • Phencyclidine
  • Tricyclic antidepressants

Urine collection is often done using the clean-catch method. With the clean-catch method, one passes a small amount of urine before using a sterilized cup to catch a sample. Just about four tablespoons are needed for analysis. Following collection, a lid is placed on the cup and a medical professional can then take it to a lab for analysis. The only preparation one may need is to drink a glass of water prior to being asked to provide a urine sample.

A small quantity of the urine sample is analyzed using immunoassay as an initial screening in which an enzyme substance is used to detect specific proteins in the urine. If this test returns a positive result, further testing may be done to determine which specific drugs are present. Often gas chromatography-mass spectrometry is used to determine the types of drugs.

There are no risks associated with a urine test. Tests are typically performed in a doctor’s office or medical facility or under the supervision of a qualified medical or lab professional. Home tests can be done using a sealed cup of urine that may be mailed to a medical laboratory for analysis.

The cost of urine tests vary greatly. Home test kits range in price from less than $10 to less than $100. The cost of urine drug tests done for purposes such as employment screening or athletic competition are typically paid for by the requesting organization.

To find a urine test kit or to find a urine test organization, please see the Urine Test Directory.