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Derived from the poppy plant, some opiates (codeine, morphine) are used as painkillers and becoming more commonly used recreationally. Our standard opiate test will detect codeine, morphine and heroin. Opiates can be snorted, smoked or injected. Both physical and psychological addiction is very strong.

Modern synthetic opiates will not show up in a standard 5 or 10 panel drug test. To detect hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone or oxymorphone, you would need to order an Expanded Panel. We use the term “opioids” to describe the standard and synthetic opiates. You can order a 5 or 10 panel drug test or an Expanded Panel


The term “Opioids” is broader than “opiates” which we hear more frequently. “Opiates” normally refers to morphine, codeine and 6M-AM, the metabolite of heroin. “Opioid” is a term that also includes the commonly abused synthetic opiates, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone and hydrocodone. More commonly, these drugs are known their trade names: OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, and Exalgo®.

Synthetic opioids are substances that are synthesized in a laboratory and that act on the same targets in the brain as natural opioids (e.g., morphine and codeine) to produce pain relief effects. Many synthetic opioids have been approved for medical use.

Symptoms and Signs

The following are observable, possible signs and symptoms of Opioids use that should be documented by a supervisor:

  • Mental dullness

  • Drowsiness/nodding off

  • Needle tracks/scars

  • Sudden attention changes from alert to drowsy

  • General lethargy

  • Slurred speech

  • Cold clammy or gooseflesh skin

  • No appetite

What do they look like?

Most synthetic opioids are encountered as tablets, mimicking pharmaceutical opioid products. Clandestinely produced synthetic opioids are found as a single substance in combination with other opioids (fentanyl, heroin) or other substances.

Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder, or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin.” Most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine.

How Opioids affects the mind and body?

Some effects include relaxation, euphoria, pain relief, sedation, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, pupillary constriction, and respiratory depression. Effects are not unlike opiates like codeine and morphine.

Overdose effects of synthetic opioids are similar to other opioid analgesics and may include stupor, changes in pupillary size, cold and clammy skin, cyanosis, coma, and respiratory failure leading to death. The presence of triad of symptoms such as coma, pinpoint pupils, and respiratory depression may indicate opioid poisoning.

Impact On The Workplace

Short-term effects of opioid abuse—clouded mental functioning, nausea, and drowsiness—have clear implications and impact on the workplace. However, the longer-term threats to overall health and addiction have an even greater potential to create problems for the employee, his family, co-workers and the employer.

That is because the opiate addict’s, especially the heroin addict’s, primary focus in life becomes acquiring and using the drug. The most obvious concerns are job-related mistakes, medical costs and inappropriate behavior.

How Do You Conduct an Opioids Drug Test?

Opioids remain detectable in the urine from 2-3 hours to 1-3 days.

The amount of detectable Opioids also depends on many factors such as the weight, age, metabolic activity, regularity of Opioids consumption and the test method adopted for detecting Opioids.

Opioids can also test positive in hair test, which can detect up to 90 days of history.

Opioids can be detected in blood, hair, urine and oral fluid. Most employee drug testing is urine, but oral fluid and hair drug testing are on the rise.

Opioids are used both medicinally and recreationally, and can change human behavior noticeably. Users can appear mentally dulled, drowsy (sometimes suddenly) or have slurred speech.

To maintain a safe, drug-free workplace, Opioids drug testing must be included with any drug testing program.

Oral fluid samples: Generally, saliva samples are collected through mouth swabs and are tested for the presence of Opioids. Not all labs can include expanded opiates in a saliva test. 

Urine samples: Urine testing can detect the presence of Opioids and other drugs too. Urine is the most common sample used for drug tests.

Hair samples: Best suited for detecting the long-term usage of Opioids, this method is costlier, however, non-invasive. The drawback of this test is that it cannot detect the usage of Opioids in the last 5 days.

An employer may test an employee for Opioids under any of the following circumstances:

Pre-employment drug test:  Passing a drug test is a requirement to begin work.

Random drug test: Statistically random drug testing is the most effective deterrent to drug use in the workplace.

Post-accident drug test: A failed drug test for Opioids following a workplace accident can invalidate a workers comp claim.

Reasonable Suspicion: If the employee has been behaving abnormally and displaying symptoms of Opioids usage, employers can require a Opioids drug test. 

Consequences for any failed drug test are described in the company’s substance abuse policy.

Opioids drug testing is best done through accredited and licensed laboratories that are experts in both onsite and laboratory drug testing.