NIDA 5 Drug Test

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Published on Dec 15th, 2016

NIDA 5 Overview

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is the prime federal agency that supports scientific studies and research on drug use/abuse and its inevitable consequences. NIDA’s mission is to further research and studies on the consequences and causes of use, abuse and addiction to drugs, and share such knowledge for the benefit of the public. NIDA 5 pertains to the five drugs of abuse specified to be tested in relation to a drug free workplace, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The NIDA 5 is comprised of Cannabinoids or marijuana (THC), phencyclidine (PCP), opiates (OPI), amphetamines (AMP), and cocaine (COC). You may also hear it called the SAMHSA-5 drug test. When testing for a broader range of drugs, there are 8 panel drug test and 12 panel drug test to cover 8 and 12 different drug types.

NIDA 5 Drug Testing in the United States

Drug testing is the assessment or evaluation of blood, urine, saliva, hair and other type of biological sample to establish and determine if an individual is or has been using a particular illicit drug. Drug testing is generally required for:

  • Drug testing in the workplace which entails pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, and back-to-duty drug testing
  • Mandatory for safety-sensitive transportation industry employees & oil/gas related occupations
  • Drug testing for professional and college athletes
  • Certain Federal and State Employees

In the 1980s, urine drug testing for certain DOT-regulated jobs and particular federal employees began in the United States. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which was under the direction of NIDA formulated and regulated the guidelines and processes during that time. The stipulation required all businesses and companies that use professional drivers, oil/gas-related occupations, specified safety-sensitive transportation and other particular federal employees, should undergo drug testing to determine the presence of five drugs. These five basic drugs required to be tested was called NIDA 5.

It was reported that drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse cost the United States some $524 billion each year.Data from National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicated that in 2015, lifetime users of illicit drugs for age 12 and above is 48.8%; past year is 17.80%; past month is 10.10%.

Drug testing in the workplace is often limited to drugs with a high potential for drug abuse, thus the NIDA 5 drug test panel. Some prescription drugs and alcohol may also be included as well.

NIDA 5 Panel Drug Test

NIDA 5 includes five drug groups based on the prevalent drugs used at the time. ADHD medications and other prescription drugs may be detected in a NIDA 5 panel drug test but other semi synthetic and synthetic drugs will not. The NIDA 5 drugs that need to be tested are:

  1. Cannabinoids (hashish, marijuana, THC)
  2. Cocaine (benzoylecognine, cocaethylene)
  3. Amphetamines (methamphetamine)
  4. Opiates (opium, codeine, heroin, morphine)
  5. Phencyclidine (PCP)

NIDA 5 Cut-Off Levels for These Drugs as Specified are:


Initial test analyte Initial test cutoff concentration Confirmatory test analyte Confirmatory test cutoff concentration Marijuana metabolites 50 ng/mL THCA1 15 ng/mL Cocaine metabolites 150 ng/mL Benzoylecgonine 100 ng/mL Codeine/Morphine2 2000 ng/mL Morphine 2000 ng/mL 6-Acetylmorphine 10 ng/mL 6-Acetylmorphine 10 ng/mL Phencyclidine 25 ng/mL Phencyclidine 25 ng/mL Amphetamines3 AMP/MAMP 4 500 ng/mL Amphetamine Methamphetamine5 250 ng/mL MDMA6 500 ng/mL MDMA 250 ng/mL

Opiate metabolites



250 ng/mL



250 ng/mL

250 ng/mL


Other drugs such as opioids and barbiturates are not included in NIDA 5 although use and abuse of such drugs are common. However, expanded drug testing may be done for drugs such as:

  1. Barbiturates (Secobarbitol, Phenobarbital, Butalbital)
  2. Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  3. Methaqualone
  4. Benzodiazepines
  5. Methadone
  6. Propoxyphene
  7. Ethanol (Alcohol)
  8. MDMA (Ecstasy)
  9. LSD
  10. Tryptamines
  11. Phenethylamines
  12. Inhalants

It is possible to request an expanded drug test which could include a combination of 3 to 4 drugs to add to the standard NIDA 5 drug test. However, there is no standard for expanded drug testing so the nature of results may vary from one laboratory to another. Cut-off levels for these drugs may vary based on specific drug test panels. Confirm BioSciences offers a wide range of NIDA 5 drug test cups and dip cards for your business.

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