A 9-panel drug screening is used to evaluate and test for the presence of various drugs in the body 1. Typically, this screening is used by employers prior to engaging a potential new hire in their current role; this screening is additionally used to test athletes. The panels referenced are marijuana, cocaine, PCP, opiates, methamphetamine, methadone, amphetamines, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.

Administering the Screening

This type of drug screening can be administered at home or through a health official. In all instances regarding employment, the individual will submit to a testing at a clinic or medical facility 1. This is done to ensure the accuracy of the testing. The testing is completed on site, generally, three to eight minutes after the person provides a urine sample. In all cases reviewed, the sample provided is urine.

Marijuana & Cocaine

Two of the most commonly used recreational drugs are marijuana and cocaine; these drugs are illegal. As part of a 9-panel drug screening, these drugs are referenced as THC (marijuana) and cocaine 1. THC is the scientific name for the drug at work in marijuana. Due to the wide use of marijuana, false positives can be noted; however, this is not an excusable result. Most 9-panel screenings have minimum thresholds that must be met in order to diagnose a donor as a user 1.

Read more about testing for marijuana in blood.


Amphetamines are tested for using urine as well. The indicator on the 9 panel drug screening indicates positive or negative results based on the presence of illegal drugs 1. Amphetamines are largely considered to be a performance enhancer. In addition, this drug can be found in many legally prescribed medicines. For this reason, this result must be reviewed for its accuracy.

Read more about ADHD nonstimulant medications.

PCP & Opiates

PCP and opiates are among the drugs tested for as part of the extensive 9-panel screening 1. Opiates consist of both illegal street drugs and prescribed medicines. The more known versions of these drugs are morphine, heroin, and codeine. PCP is a hallucinogenic drug, also known as angel dust. Both of these substances are known to come in powder form, and may also be found as liquids.

Barbiturates & Benzodiazepines

Both barbiturates and benzodiazepines are clinically produced drugs. They are taken intravenously or in pill form. Typically, these drugs, or medications, are used to treat insomnia; as anti-seizure medication; or, as an anesthetic. Recreational users will abuse this drug for its sedative qualities.


Methamphetamine use has skyrocketed in recent years. Screenings for methamphetamine use are common by all employers. In association with the 9-panel screenings for meth use, test kits also diagnose the presence of ecstasy 1. Together, these are some of the most commonly used recreational drugs; moreover, both are extremely dangerous. Ecstasy, or MDMA, is taken in pill form; while meth can be taken any number of ways, but is generally smoked through a glass pipe or snorted.


Methadone is not abused as often, or as recreationally, as the aforementioned drugs that make up the 9-panel drug screening 1. Methadone is an anti-addictive medication used to treat addiction to opiates, such as heroin. Typically, this is tested for to see if an applicant may have been on heroin, or been addicted to any number of other opiates. Methadone is generally taken in pill form and is done so under the strict supervision of a physician.