Harshav Raval, PharmD, RPh, details the specifics involved with using the urine drug-testing products.
Harshav Raval, PharmD, RPh: Urine testing is the easiest to use, and parents come in and typically request that, because that’s the one that they’ve seen most, either on the shelf or through hearing about it from other friends or family members. The way that urine testing works is, it can be in-home, which is a convenience factor. You don’t have to go to a specific place. More so, it provides a positive or negative answer. The way it works is, it’s an ounce and a half of urine—about 45 mL—and there’s a line right on the cup that actually says, “Fill it to this line.” You don’t have to provide quite a bit of sample, which is really good.
The other thing is, you either twist the lid on or you pour the urine on to the stick, and then after 5 minutes, read the result and get a definitive yes or no. The results, depending on the type of kit, will tell you if you do or don’t have certain things in your system. There’s a control line that’s going to be common in all test kits, and then there’s a second line that’s present. That’s one that detects if there is nothing in your urine, which is a good thing. On most kits, that’s how the results are read. You’d want to check a kit to know exactly what the pros and cons of each one are and which is best for you.
My personal experience with urine testing is that I’ve used it myself just to get familiar with the product. We also ask our students to do that. With regard to parents coming in for questions, the biggest question that we get with urine testing is, “Is it accurate,” or, “Will I find the right results?” The answer to that is that there are chances for a urine test to come up with a false-positive result based on other completely legal over-the-counter pain medications or other prescription medications someone could have taken that can mimic certain drugs or compounds.
With that in mind, the urine test kit is something that is a good baseline. It’s not something that probably should be a be-all, end-all kind of thing. If you get a positive result, it’s not something to scold your kid about. It’s something that will open up the dialogue for further conversation and possibly further professional testing.
With urine testing, the typical results will have a shorter timeframe from which it’s sampling, meaning, it’ll test what is in your system going back maybe a week, at most. It’s going to be something that is short term. If you’re a parent who suspects that your child was using something when they went to their friend’s house a few days ago, and you want to make sure that that wasn’t the case, then that would be the best test to use. It’s going to be a short-term type of test.