What the Colors Mean on a Drug Test Cup

What the Colors Mean on a Drug Test Cup

Drug test cups are one of the most popular methods utilized in modern drug screening today. Whether such testing is for pre-employment screening, assessment for compliance, or other substance abuse prevention purposes, urine-based drug tests are one-step options for qualitative detection. Since urine-based testing is quick, simple-to-use, highly accurate, cost-effective, and essentially painless for participants, it is suitable for all drug testing purposes.

Commonplace urine-based drug tests are available in a variety of panel-screening options. They are the only testing method currently approved for federally-mandated testing with the government employment sector. In today's industries, there are two general types of urine tests used—GS-MS and immunoassay. Immunoassays are most conventionally used throughout industries, as providers typically only use GC/MS for follow-up screenings and laboratory confirmation.

Immunoassay drug test cups qualitatively analyze human urine to indicate a positive or negative result via control lines and test lines of a drug test strip of a specific substance. Let’s examine the process of urine-based drug testing to provide an understanding of what the colors mean on a drug test cup.

Drug Panels: Examining a Specimen

Drug test-cups combine a collection of screens to indicate the presence of specified drugs within a urine sample. Within the industry, each test is labeled specifically by the number of drugs that it tests for. This means each particular drug tested equals one panel.

To provide an example, a 5-panel test would screen a sample for the presence of five different drugs. The types of drugs can differ based on the urine-based test that is chosen for testing purposes.

The most universally-used drug test is a reasonable choice: a 5-panel urine-based test. This 5-panel test examines a collected specimen for these illicit substances: cocaine, marijuana (THC), phencyclidine (PCP), opiates (such as heroin or morphine), and amphetamines (including meth and ecstasy).

Higher panels such as 7-panel, 10-panel, 12-panel, and even 18-panel are available based on the amount or kind of detectable drugs that need to be screened for. Employers can choose to customize drug panels. However, a different drug can be added or subtracted from an existing panel. When a drug cup testing kit is purchased, the included panels will have their own abbreviated test strips. These panels will also be listed within the test kit chart.

Urine Drug Screens: Cut-Off Levels

The cut-off level of a drug concentration is a specific established threshold. This threshold is critical to label a result as positive or negative. Cut-off levels create a line of separation between positive and negative to determine safety risks. These cut-off levels are also beneficial to lower the risk of false-positive tests.

Generally expressed in nanograms per milliliters (ng/ml), the listed numbers are a guideline for accurate detection. Anything above a specified concentration is called a “positive” result, while anything below that a specified concentration is labeled as a “negative” result. Companies or employers can choose cut-off levels based on set standards for a safe workplace or by standards set by federal agencies.

Cut-off levels are designated to provide a reasonable standard to ensure an individual’s safety and fitness for duty. As a matter of fact, cut-off levels are decided upon to hold all donors to the same expectations. Drug testing is meant to be an accurate, fair, and neutral process for all involved parties.

How To Read a Drug Test

Interpreting drug test results is a relatively simple procedure, with only a couple of easy steps involved in the process. An individual must be familiar with testing components to accurately determine the correct results. Each panel has its own labels of a Control Region (C) and a testing region (T).

The Control Region (C) is the section that signals the test is working accurately, while the Test Region (T) illustrates whether or not the substance screened for is present in the sample. After a sample is obtained, a designated line should appear within the (C) region. If it does, you must wait for yielded results that will indicate the presence or non-presence of drugs within the (T) region.

Identifying Color Meanings on a Test Cup

If you’re still wondering about what the colors mean on a drug test cup, there is a simple explanation. Each substance panel will have a color that illustrates its distinction from another drug panel. Within that panel’s test strip, the control and test regions provide the results of the test. If a colored line appears beside both the control region and the test region, the overall result is considered negative.

This line is typically pink or red in color. The shade depends on if the line is faint or heavy-marked. Critically, it's vital to make note that the color intensity of the line does not matter. Shades can vary. Whether it’s dark or light, this factor does not impact the results or indicate an amount of drug detection. This line astutely means an assumed “negative” result and that drug detection is below the concentration cut-off level.

Conversely, when no colored line appears on the (T) region of a strip, this means that the result is assumed positive. Drug detection is hence above the detectable level. This positive test result provides probable evidence that a drug or multiple drugs in question were positively detected. These results need to be confirmed with a lab via an alternative testing method such as the mentioned GS-MS.

Remember that if no line is indicated in the (C) region either, then the test is not valid and the result is not accurate. Typical reasons behind invalid tests include incorrect procedures, an insufficient sample volume, or a faulty test. Another urine-based drug test will need to be performed for a correct result.

Where To Find Quality Screening Tests

For all your screening demands, American Screening is the number one provider of accurate drug testing solutions. Our selection of top-quality drug testing cups can ensure the results that your business, corporation, office, or agency needs. Our testing cups are easy-to-use, tamper-resistant, and come with self-contained strips that can be definitively read for correct results.

We provide over 40+ drug test cup options for a wide array of drugs, such as opioids, cocaine, and THC. American Screening surely carries the cup solutions you require. Reach out to us today to learn about our quantity or volume discounts. Whatever your needs are, we’ve got you covered.

What the Colors Mean on a Drug Test Cup

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