The Different Drug Abbreviations in Drug Testing

The Different Drug Abbreviations in Drug Testing

Drug testing has become a standard practice for many employers and organisations. The tests check for drug use by analysing samples from an individual’s hair, urine, blood or saliva. While the full names of drugs are sometimes used, there are also many abbreviations for the substances being tested for.

These abbreviated drug names can be confusing if you’re not familiar with them. This article will explain some of the most common abbreviations you’re likely to see on drug testing reports and results.

Why Drug Testing Uses Abbreviations

Drug testing staff don’t have the space to list the full names of every substance on their reports. Using abbreviations allows more information to fit and keeps reports neatly formatted. It also helps laboratory technicians quickly identify which drugs they need to test samples for.

The abbreviations are standardised across the industry. This means anyone reading a drug test report will understand the findings, regardless of the testing laboratory used.

Common Drug Test Abbreviations

Here are some of the most widely used abbreviations in drug testing and what they stand for:

  • AMP – Amphetamine
  • BAR – Barbiturates
  • BZO – Benzodiazepines
  • COC – Cocaine
  • THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana, cannabis)
  • MTD – Methadone
  • MET – Methamphetamine
  • MDMA – Ecstasy
  • MOP – Morphine
  • OPI – Opiates
  • OXY – Oxycodone
  • PCP – Phencyclidine
  • PPX – Propoxyphene
  • TCA – Tricyclic antidepressants

Alcohol is abbreviated as ALC. Though not technically a drug, alcohol testing is common in drug screening.

Buprenorphine is abbreviated as BUP. This opioid medication is often tested for alongside other prescription opiates.

Ketamine is abbreviated as KET. The anaesthetic and hallucinogen has become a recreational drug of abuse.

Urine Drug Test Panels

For urine drug testing, you’ll often see abbreviations like 5-panel or 10-panel. This refers to the number of drugs the test screens for.

A typical 5-panel urine test checks for:

  • Amphetamines (AMP)
  • Cocaine (COC)
  • Cannabis (THC)
  • Opiates (OPI)
  • Methamphetamine (MET)

A typical 10-panel test adds:

  • Barbiturates (BAR)
  • Benzodiazepines (BZO)
  • Methadone (MTD)
  • Ketamine (KET)
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)

More advanced urine tests can check for up to 18 or more drugs.

Abbreviations for Opiate Sensitivity

Urine drug tests that screen for opiates like morphine, heroin and codeine use numerical abbreviations like OPI2000 or OPI300.

This number indicates the test’s opiate detection threshold in nanograms per millilitre (ng/mL). For example:

  • OPI2000 – Picks up opiate levels above 2,000 ng/mL
  • OPI300 – Picks up opiate levels above 300 ng/mL

A lower number means the test is more sensitive to lower levels of opiates.

Understanding Cut-Off Levels

Drug test results may show a concentration, like 50 ng/mL next to a drug abbreviation. This is known as the cut-off level and indicates the minimum concentration of the drug the test will detect.

If a sample tests below the cut-off level, it will be reported as negative or ‘none detected’ for that drug. Levels at or above the cut-off are considered a positive result.

Why Drug Test Abbreviations Matter

Understanding the different drug abbreviations used in testing ensures accurate interpretation of results. For employers or organisations doing drug screening, knowing the terminology prevents confusion and helps maintain fair and consistent standards.

Being aware of the abbreviations also allows individuals undergoing drug testing to better understand their results. Though sometimes complex, the abbreviations are simply a precision way for labs to convey drug test findings.

Photo by Zoom Testing

Zoom Testing is a leading UK drug testing company and a supplier of Drug Test Kits.

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