Pathology Handbook

Drugs of Abuse

Clinical Indications

Drugs of abuse analysis is only offered as a clinical service for the treatment of drug dependence or, rarely, in the management of patients with suspected overdose.

Analysis is not suitable for medico-legal purposes such as child custody or employment screening. In such cases, independent private laboratories offer a service that provides 'chain of custody' and results that are legally defensible e.g. MedScreen 0207 7712 8000 (we do not recommend any specific laboratory).

Spiked drink analysis: if alleged incident has occurred within the past 48 hours, a urine sample in a plain (white top) universal may be sent to the laboratory for storage and the patient should be advised to contact the police. If the alleged incident is more than 48 hours ago, any drugs that might be used in spiking drinks will have already been metabolised and excreted so screening is not worthwhile. However, the patient should still be advised to contact the police.

Test Includes

Amphetamines, benzodiazepines,  cannabis, cocaine, opiates, methadone metabolites.

Request Form

Request on ICE or use combined Biochemistry/Haematology form


Analysed by referral laboratory if specific criteria met..

Specific Criteria

Routine management of patients with drug dependence or as agreed with Consultant Biochemist.

Turnaround Time

Adults: one week. Children: two weeks


Urine in white capped plain universal container


5 ml


Urine bottle white top

Lab Handling

Store at 4°C

Causes for Rejection

Unlabelled or incorrectly labelled sample, samples collected into Boric acid.