Advanced urine toxicology testing

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64 Scopus citations


Urine toxicology screening testing is an important standard of care in the addiction and pain treatment setting, offering a reproducible, unbiased, and accurate laboratory test to monitor patients and provide objective support for clinical observations. It has been shown that physicians do not have proficiency in the ordering or interpretation of these tests. This article is an attempt to respond to that need. Current antibody-based enzymatic immunoassays (EIAs) used for urine toxicology screening are useful to detect classes of drugs (ex., opiate) but cannot determine which specific drug (ex., morphine) is present. Gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy can determine exactly which drugs are present, allowing prescribed (or illicit) opiates and benzodiazepines to be identified. This article will discuss principles and details of opiate and benzodiazepine EIA and gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy urine toxicology testing. The approach to detecting patients attributing positive opiate EIAs to prescription opiates who are using heroin or other opioids will be reviewed. Cases of controlled prescription drugs that do not produce the expected positive urine tests (ex., oxycodone producing negative opiate screening tests) will be discussed. How to differentiate codeine from heroin and the role of poppy seeds in toxicology will be examined. The case of an anti-depressant drug that produces false-positive benzodiazepine results and antibiotics that cause positive opiate urine toxicology results will be reviewed. Common benzodiazepines (ex., clonazepam and lorazepam) that do not reliably produce positive benzodiazepine EIAs will be discussed. The approach to detection and management of all these types of toxicology cases will be reviewed, and it is hoped that the analyses presented will impart an adequate information base to medical providers and staff members of drug treatment and pain centers, enabling them to order and interpret these tests in the clinic more effectively as an integrated part of whole patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-448
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Addictive Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


  • EIA
  • EMIT
  • Gas chromatography
  • benzodiazepine
  • clonazepam
  • codeine
  • drug screening
  • fluoroquinolone
  • lorazepam
  • mass spectroscopy
  • morphine
  • opiate
  • sertraline
  • urine toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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