An In-Depth Look at Different Drug Types

Learn about the different drugs that are present in various configurations of our drug test kits. Each year, there are new drugs that get popular. Stay in the know about what is out there.

the original nida-5 configuration

The standard 5

The standard and most common drug category for screening drugs of abuse is generally called the
“Federal 5.” Over the years, they have also been called the “NIDA 5” and “SAMHSA 5″ (SAMHSA, p. 4).

NIDA is the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The substances included are cannabinoids, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, and phencyclidine (PCP).

Citation: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Clinical Drug Testing in Primary Care. Technical Assistance Publication (TAP) 32. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4668. p 4. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012.

Amphetamines are psychostimulant drugs, which means they speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Some types of amphetamines are prescribed by doctors. These medications include Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, Focalin, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin.

These drugs can cause addiction if they are misused.

Illegal amphetamines come in different forms: Pills and capsules, Powder and paste, Crystal, and Liquid.


Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Cocaine is a white powder. It can be snorted or mixed with water and injected with a needle.

Cocaine can also be made into small white rocks, called crack. Crack cocaine is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that is derived from powdered cocaine using a simple conversion process.  Crack is smoked in a small glass pipe.


Opiates are chemical compounds that are extracted or refined from poppies. Medically, opiates are used primarily for relief of pain. Opiates bind to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Opium, morphine, heroin and codeine are opiates.

Opiates vs Opioids: While these terms are frequently used interchangeably, they carry distinct meanings. Opiates specifically denote natural opioids like heroin, morphine, and codeine, whereas opioids encompass a broader category, including natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic opioids.

Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant. Native to Central and South Asia, the cannabis plant has been used as a drug for both recreational and entheogenic purposes and in various traditional medicines for centuries.

THC is the primary substance accountable for the impact of marijuana on an individual’s mental condition.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved the use of the marijuana plant as medicine, many states have legalized marijuana use.


Phencyclidine (PCP) is an illegal street drug that usually comes as a white powder, which can be dissolved in alcohol or water. It can be bought as a powder or liquid. Though it’s no longer approved for use in humans since 1965, it’s still sometimes used as a tranquilizer for animals.

PCP, also known as “Angel Dust”, may lead to hallucinations (a profound distortion in a person’s perception of reality). It is considered a hallucinogenic drug, exhibiting stimulant effects at low doses and depressant effects at higher doses.

It induces a chemical imbalance in the brain, often leading to psychotic or schizophrenic behavior.

What is a drug test panel?

drug test panels

A drug test panel is a list (or menu) of drugs or drug classes that can be tested for in a specimen. These can be ordered to identify drugs of abuse or in pain management. No single drug panel is suitable for all clinical uses; many testing options exist that can be adapted to clinical needs.

What is the Purpose of Panels?

These panels are designed to monitor adherence to pain treatment plans, to detect use of nonprescribed pain medications, and to screen for use of illicit drugs. Clinical practitioners can order more comprehensive drug test panels to identify drugs or classes of drugs that go beyond the federally mandated drugs for testing. Which drugs are included in the testing menu vary greatly based on the requirements of the testing environment. Drugs or metabolites included in a comprehensive panel differ, and they could have more than one type of panel.

other drugs

Other than the standard five drugs, there are more substances. Some of them are becoming more common, and it’s important to screen for as many possible drug families and types.


Barbituates are depressant drugs used to help sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, prevent seizures. Prescribed names: Fiorina, Pentothal, Seconal, or Nembutal. 

They cause relaxation and sleepiness. Doctors reduced barbiturate prescriptions due to rising misuse and overdoses. Safer options are now preferred.


Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. It produces effects such as euphoria or respiratory depression at low to moderate doses. It is used to treat opioid use disorder, acute pain, and chronic pain.

It is used in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) to help individuals in quitting their use of heroin or other opioids.


Benzodiazepines, sometimes called “benzos”, are a class of depressant drugs whose core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring. As depressants that lower brain activity, they are prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures.

They are very commonly prescribed by doctors.

mamp / MET

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks.

It is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.


Methadone is part of a category of drugs called opioids. German doctors created it during World War II. When it came to the United States, doctors used it to treat people with extreme pain. Today, it is used as part of a treatment program for addiction to heroin or narcotic painkillers.


Morphine is an opioid made from opium.

Morphine is used to treat moderate to severe pain. The extended-release form of morphine is for around-the-clock treatment of pain. Short-acting formulations are taken as needed for pain.

Extended-release morphine is not for use on an as-needed basis for pain.

3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) is a synthetic drug that alters mood and perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions). It is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception.

Oxycodone belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics. It is a schedule II narcotic analgesic and is widely used in clinical medicine. Brands include Oxycontin, Xtampza ER, Oxaydo & Roxicodone.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are a class of antidepressant medications that share a similar chemical structure and biological effects. The prescription frequency of TCAs is not as common as it once was.


Propoxyphene is an opioid pain reliever used to treat mild to moderate pain. It is sold under various names as a single-ingredient product (e.g., Darvon) and as part of a combination with acetaminophen (e.g., Darvocet).
It has been banned by the FDA in 2010.

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