In this guide, we’ll do our best to give you an idea of; how do I know if I passed my drug test?
Waiting for the results of a drug test can be a nerve-wracking experience.
That great new job you’re so excited about depends on a negative result.
Or, maybe you’re keeping your fingers crossed that you get to keep the job you currently have.
Either way, it’s always the not knowing that creates anxiety and leaves you in a state of limbo. Once you know the result, you can deal with the outcome.
Obviously, the sample collection technician didn’t give you an expected timeline for your drug test results and now you’re wondering – How do I know if I passed my drug test?
While we can’t give you an exact timeline for your drug test result, there are fairly standard reporting procedures that labs use.
Pre-employment – How Do I Know If I Passed My Drug Test?
Usually, you’ll know that you passed your pre-employment drug test because your employer will hire you!
They probably won’t send you a message saying “Good news you passed your drug test”, though.
Instead, they’ll either call you or send an email letting you know that you passed your pre-employment checks, and to schedule your orientation session or start date.
If you applied for a job through an employer’s jobs portal, the portal may give you the ability to follow your application’s progress, and if you check on the portal, you’ll see that everything is complete. In which case, you passed and you should hear from your new employer very soon.
You’ll hear from your employer quickly if:
- They have a well-organized HR department
- They aren’t dealing with a huge volume of new hires
- They need you to start work urgently
Otherwise, employers may be a little lax about keeping you informed. They might not appreciate how it feels to be left in limbo, and they’ll get around to informing you in their own sweet time.
The testing lab may also send you a copy of your test result (some states require that they do) but they usually inform employers more quickly.
Of course, this is assuming that you passed the drug test.
What if you failed?
What Happens When You Fail A Pre-employment Drug Test?
If you fail a pre-employment drug test, you should hear from the lab carrying out your sample analysis.
When a sample is positive for drugs, the lab needs to run a confirmatory test using a more sensitive analysis method. This confirmatory test is carried out using a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis.
While the initial sample analysis is usually completed within 48 hours, the confirmatory gas chromatography analysis can take a further 2 – 5 days.
If the second test also returns a positive result, your results will be passed to a Medical Review Officer (MRO). The MRO will contact you as soon as possible to find out if there is a legitimate explanation for the presence of a drug in your sample.
Positive results are passed to an MRO as soon as the lab has completed the confirmatory analysis, which will normally be within 7 days of your sample collection.
Keep an eye on your email, and check your spam or junk folders so you don’t miss their message.
If the MRO can’t get in touch with you after 3 or 4 attempts, they’ll send your result to your employer as a positive test.
If you left a phone number with your contact details, you will probably get a call to schedule a chat with the MRO.
At this point, you will have the opportunity to discuss any conditions you have and to provide your prescription for the medications you take which could have produced a false positive on the test.
If you don’t have a copy of your prescription, you can send a photograph of your medication label, or give permission for the MRO to contact your doctor or pharmacist.
The MRO will review all the information, make a decision, and then pass the final result to your prospective employer.
If there was a legitimate reason for the positive result, you should hear from the employer shortly afterward.
If you could not provide a satisfactory explanation for the positive result, the lab may send you a copy of your positive test result. You will also hear from the company you applied to. Depending on their policy regarding the drug you tested positive for, they may or may not wish to hire you.
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Employees – How Do You Know If You Passed A Drug Test?
If you’ve had to take a drug test at work because of your employer’s random drug testing policy, because of an accident or injury at work, or because there was reasonable cause to suspect that you were under the influence of drugs at work, then your employer has to follow the procedure documented in your company drug testing policy.
Your company drug testing policy should have been given to you during your orientation or when you visited HR to complete your employment paperwork.
So, the best way to find out when you’ll know if you passed your drug test is to look at that policy to learn about your employer’s procedure.
Otherwise, this is a general outline of how the process works.
Average Timeline For A Negative Drug Test Result
Labs aim to process results within 48 hours of receiving a sample.
If, for example, you submitted a sample at a local clinic on a Tuesday morning, the sample would be picked up toward the end of the day and delivered to the lab by the following morning, absent of any transportation delays.
Then the lab would run an initial analysis on the sample.
If the analysis was negative, they would send the result to your employer, usually by email on the same day.
Your employer may choose to let you know once they receive the result, so you can stop worrying, or they may leave it to you to contact HR.
With this timeline, your employer should definitely have your negative result by Thursday or Friday, with the entire process taking at most 3 to 4 days.
If your sample was collected on a Friday, though, the timeline for a negative test result would look a little different.
A Friday sample may not be analyzed at the lab until the following Monday or Tuesday because of the weekend.
But, if your drug test was a straightforward negative result from the initial analysis, you should be able to find out your result within 1 week.
Some employers run so many drug tests that they often have faster turnarounds with specific labs. In these cases, negative drug tests can be completed within 24 hours. As can drug tests analyzed in-house.
Average Timeline For A Positive Drug Test Result
Should your initial sample return a positive result, then a second confirmatory analysis will need to be done.
This can take anywhere from 2 to 5 days.
If that confirmatory analysis is negative, the results will be passed to your employer, and you would expect to hear about your result anywhere between 5 to 7 working days after submitting your sample.
If the second test is positive, the results are passed on to a Medical Review Officer (MRO) who will contact you to find out if you’re taking a prescribed medication that would explain the result.
The MRO or a member of their staff should contact you without delay as soon as they have your result. So again, you should know that there’s a problem within 5 to 7 working days.
If you have no legitimate explanation for why your sample tested positive, then a positive result report will be sent to your employer.
Employers tend to adopt one of two approaches upon receiving a positive drug test result.
When a drug test comes back positive, they either immediately suspend or terminate the employee, or they work with the employee to address the problem.
Either way, they will act on a positive drug test result quickly.
Whether your test was negative or positive, your results will normally be available within 10 days at the latest.
Frequent Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will I Be Notified If I Fail A Drug Test?
Whether you’re notified about a failed test depends on the reason for the test, your employer’s policy, and your state laws. Some states require labs to notify the test subject if they have a positive result. Other states require notification regardless of the result, while others have no rules in place at all.
If you took a pre-employment drug test, the employer may notify you, or they may simply drop your application without telling you.
If you took an employee drug test, your HR department will let you know about a failed drug test because they will need to address the issue. Depending on your company policy, you could be suspended, fired, or asked to enter a drug education or rehabilitation program.
How Long Does It Take To Hear Back After A Drug Test?
If a company does in-house drug testing, you could hear back the same day or the next day. When drug tests are sent to a lab for analysis, the turnaround time for a negative test is usually 24 – 48 hours.
If a sample returns a positive result, a second confirmatory analysis is done, which can take an extra 2 to 5 days.
Do Employers Let You Know If You Pass Drug Test?
In most cases, employers should let you know if you pass or fail a drug test. If you’re an employee and not simply a job applicant, you will definitely know if you passed because you would be subject to a disciplinary process if you failed.
Can I See My Pre-employment Drug Test Results?
Yes, you can see your drug test results. In some states, the testing lab is required to send you a copy. Otherwise, you can request a copy of your test results from the lab that analyzed your sample.
In most cases, you shouldn’t have to wait very long to find out how your drug test turned out.
Negative results can come back as quickly as 24-48 hours after the sample was collected.
Drug testing on positive samples takes longer to complete because a confirmatory test has to be carried out, then a Medical Review Officer has to carry out further checks. But you should still be able to get the result within 10 days.
If you don’t hear from an employer about your drug test results, you can contact them after the appropriate time has passed to ask for your results.
Related Resource: How To Find Out If A Company Drug Tests?
Robert Eric (a lover of Cats and Dogs) is the co-founder of HireFelonsJobs. In our search for a better life, after… A platform was created for the purpose of easing the search for ex-convicts.