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Medication-Assisted Treatment and Drug Testing

Medication-Assisted Treatment and Drug Testing

Patients enrolled in medication-assisted treatment will encounter drug screenings in various scenarios throughout their experience. From urine toxicology tests at their treatment clinic to drug tests required for potential employers, patients need to know why these tests are conducted and how their MAT treatment can affect results.

Urine Toxicology during Treatment

To ensure that patients are compliant with their medications during opioid use disorder treatment, medical staff will require frequent drug testing from those enrolled. This isn’t only done to hold patients accountable, but it’s for their safety as well. Patients who begin to slip and relapse during treatment may have elevated levels of opioids in their bloodstream, which can cause adverse reactions to certain medications that are being dispensed, particularly those containing naloxone.

Frequent testing has been shown to improve success for patients, and open communication about any other substance misuse is encouraged. These tests can also monitor whether a patient is misusing other substances inappropriately, which can alter their treatment course and the efficacy of the medicines involved in MAT.

Drug Test for Employment

Patients enrolled in medication-assisted treatment will often ask their providers questions before taking a urine drug screening for a potential employer. Does Suboxone® show up on a drug test? Will I be discriminated against for taking MAT medicine? They are often relieved to find that Suboxone® is not something that basic drug tests cover. Drug panels that do pick up on MAT medicines are explicitly created to identify buprenorphine, metabolites, or naloxone. There is also no threat of these medicines used in MAT causing false positives for opioids because the detection method requires separate immunoassays and markers for opioids.

It’s important to note that this information applies to the most basic drug tests, also called the 4 and 5 panel. Those tests will screen for amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, PCP, and 5-panel tests include THC. Specific employers may ask for more panels based on the company culture or requirements that may involve up to 12 or more panels. The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against those actively enrolled in MAT.

Court-Ordered Drug Screening

Depending on a patient’s court case and record, different kinds of drug panels may be ordered, including urine, blood, saliva, or specimen tests using skin cell or hair samples. Urine and saliva tests are the most common methods used, but to test for drug usage over a more extended period, specimen samples such as follicle tests are required and can test a longer window of us to 90 days.

Everything from a patient’s probation status to child custody approval may be contingent on these drug tests, making the intensity of the screenings highly subjective. The timing of these tests is primarily random and unannounced, but some patients may be on a regular testing schedule depending on their agreement with the judge. It’s unlikely a court will specifically test for MAT medicines because they are usually in contact with a patient’s caseworkers at their treatment facility to ensure they are staying compliant with their program.

Recovery Services of New Mexico is prepared to help those in need of addiction treatment in the communities surrounding our locations in Albuquerque and Roswell counties. Contact us today to schedule an intake screening to get started on the road to recovery.


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