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Do Psychedelics Show up on a Drug Test?

Have you ever wondered if psychedelic drugs like shrooms, acid, and ketamine show up on drug tests? It can be a confusing topic because of the different types of testing and their varying capabilities for detection. 

If so, you’re not alone. One of the biggest concerns for those who use or are considering using psychedelic drugs is whether they will show up on drug tests, particularly in the context of employment or legal consequences.

A 2021 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics relayed that about 16% of employers require mandatory drug testing for new applicants or current employees. Even so, the use of psychedelic drugs for their mind-altering effects is becoming increasingly popular for mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The complex legality for psychedelic therapy has a long way to go before becoming accessible across all 50 states, so many people resort to experimenting on their own or having a psychedelic guide

From different types of testing to how psychedelics stay in your system, we have you covered. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about drug testing for psychedelics like psilocybin, Special K, and LSD. 

Types of Drug Testing Methods

Urine Tests

Urinalysis is the most common method used for drug testing by far, because it is non-invasive, relatively easy to administer, and cost effective. It involves analyzing a urine sample to detect the presence of drugs or their metabolites.

Of employers who require drug tests for employees, 90% of them use urinalysis as their method of testing (Maurer, 2018). It is also the federally approved drug-screening protocol for federally mandated testing. 

Urinalysis can detect a variety of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, and PCP with immunoassay, a test that uses antibodies or antigens to detect the presence of certain molecules. This test can identify trace amounts of specific drugs, but it is important to note that urinalysis is not foolproof and can produce false positives or false negatives. 

False positives can occur when a substance other than a drug or its metabolite triggers a positive test result. False negatives can occur if the drug was used recently and has not yet been metabolized by the body, or if the person being tested has used a drug that is not included in the test panel.

Blood Tests

Blood drug testing analyzes a person’s blood sample to detect the presence of drugs or their metabolites in the bloodstream. The process of blood drug testing typically involves immunoassay or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) techniques.

This method is generally considered to be more accurate than urinalysis because it can detect drugs at lower concentrations and can provide a more accurate timeline of drug use. 

However, it is more invasive and costly than urinalysis. Blood drug testing is also only suitable for detecting recent drug use, because most drugs are metabolized and eliminated from the bloodstream within a few days. It is for these reasons that blood tests are not as common or useful for employment-related testing.

Saliva Tests

Saliva drug testing, also known as oral fluid testing, is another method which analyzes a person’s saliva sample to detect the presence of drugs or their metabolites in the saliva. 

Instant saliva tests exist, but usually the sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis, where it is screened using immunoassay or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) techniques for detection. These tests can detect even trace amounts of drugs with a similar accuracy to blood tests and can identify the specific drug or drugs that are present in the sample.

Saliva drug testing is becoming increasingly popular with corporations who perform drug tests on employees, because it is non-invasive, easy to administer, and can detect recent drug use. However, saliva testing is only useful for certain substances, with most psychedelics being excluded. 

Hair Tests

Hair follicle drug testing is a testing method which analyzes a person’s hair sample to detect the presence of drugs or their metabolites deposited into the hair follicles. The hair sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis, where it is screened using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or radioimmunoassay (RIA) techniques for detection. 

This type of testing can spot drug use more accurately and over a longer period of time because drugs remain in the hair for months after use, which allows this testing method to show patterns of drug use over time.

However, it does have some limitations. Hair drug testing is more expensive than other methods and is also not useful for detecting recent drug use, as it can take up to 10 days for drugs to appear in hair. For this reason, this method is not used for employment testing as commonly as urinalysis or even oral fluid tests.

How Long Do Psychedelics Stay In Your System?

To understand if a certain substance is going to show up on a drug test, let’s go over each substance and how long it takes for them to show up in and be eliminated from the body. It is important to know that with each substance, if not sourced properly, there is always a risk of using contaminated or laced substances.

In which case, those substances unintentionally taken through adulteration could show up on normal urine tests. It is imperative to source psychedelics safely should you choose to take any.  

Does Acid Show Up on a Drug Test? 

Lysergic acid diethylamide, otherwise known as LSD or acid, is a powerful hallucinogenic drug that was first synthesized in 1938 from ergot, a fungus that grows on grains. LSD works by binding to serotonin receptors in the brain, leading to altered perception, thought processes, and emotions. It can cause vivid and intense visual hallucinations, as well as changes in mood and sense of self. 

Its history of use in both therapeutic and recreational contexts helped it gain popularity in the counterculture movement of the 1960s, inspiring songs and art like The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Today, LSD is still illegal in many countries but is being researched as a potential tool for psychotherapy and may have applications in treating a variety of mental health conditions.  

    • In urine, LSD is detectable for up to 2-4 days after use

    • Blood tests are effective for only 6-12 hours after use for LSD 

    • Hair follicle tests show LSD for up to 90 days after use

With hair testing, there is a short window after taking a substance in which it cannot be detected in the hair, since not enough time has passed for new hair growth to show the presence of the drug. This period is usually 7 days.

Does Special K Show Up on a Drug Test?

This dissociative anesthetic that was developed in the 1960s is commonly used in medical settings for anesthesia and pain relief. It works by blocking the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain.

In recent years, ketamine has gained attention as a potential treatment for depression, particularly treatment-resistant depression, but is still a Schedule III substance. It is believed to work by rapidly increasing the levels of neurotransmitters such as glutamate and dopamine, which can help restore neural connections and improve mood.  

    • Ketamine is detectable in urine immediately for up to 14 days after use although longer durations have been reported

    • In blood, it is detected for up to 24 hours after use

    • In hair testing, ketamine is detectable for up to 90 days after use

It is typically administered intravenously in a medical setting or in ketamine clinics, but its use for depression is still considered off-label and not yet fully understood.

Do Shrooms Show Up on a Drug Test?

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound found in certain species of mushrooms, also known as “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms”. When ingested, psilocybin is metabolized into psilocin, which binds to serotonin receptors in the brain, leading to alterations in perception, mood, and cognition. 

Psilocybin has been used for centuries in spiritual and cultural contexts, and in recent years has gained attention as a potential treatment for mental health conditions such as anxiety and addiction

While various strains of psychedelic mushrooms have differing effects and personalities of their own, for the most part they have similar time durations in which they can be detected in the human body. 

    • Because the body metabolizes psilocybin so quickly, mushrooms can be detected in urine within only 24-48 hours of use 

    • For blood and saliva tests, psilocybin is detectable only within a few hours

    • In hair follicle testing, it can be detected for up to 90 days

The most common type of drug test, the urinalysis, typically does not detect or even look for psilocybin markers, with most drug tests being 5-panel or even up to 12-panel. For employment screenings, mushrooms are rarely tested for because of the cost of the testing needed and the time-frame needed for detection. 

The Legal Risks of a Positive Psychedelic Drug Test

The legal implications of testing positive for psychedelics on a drug test can have serious implications such as loss of employment, probation violation, or legal penalties. Particular job positions have mandated drug testing for incoming hires and existing employees, the most common being government positions, healthcare jobs, and manufacturing jobs (Hardey et al., 2022).

It is important to understand the risks of taking psychedelics and how to mitigate any risks and repercussions that may come along with dabbling in hallucinogenic and mind-altering substances.  

Even though there are definitive therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, understanding how to take the right dose and how to navigate the complex world of psychedelics can help you avoid any mistakes along the way. Lastly, seeking the support of a psychedelic-assisted therapist or guide may be one of the best ways to ensure that the experience is safe and transformative. 

FAQs About Psychedelic Drug Tests

1. How accurate are drug tests for detecting psychedelic drugs?

Drug tests can be highly accurate for detecting psychedelic drugs if the test is designed to specifically look for them. However, most standard drug tests are not designed to look for psychedelics. The most common 5-panel urinalysis test checks for amphetamines, opioids, marijuana, cocaine, and PCP. 

Additional markers may be added, such as in 8-panels, which add testing for MDMA and various prescription drugs like oxycodone. Many psychedelics are eliminated quickly and are undetectable in urine after 48 hours of use. For hair follicle testing, psychedelics can be accurately detected for up to 90 days after use. 

2. Can I use detox drinks to pass a drug test for psychedelic drugs?

There is really no good way to eliminate psychedelics more quickly from the body. Drinking water may be helpful, but definitive research is lacking in regards to speeding up metabolism and elimination in the body. While there are some detox drinks on the market that claim to help people pass drug tests, their efficacy and safety for eliminating psychedelic drugs is unclear. 

It is always best to speak with a medical professional if you are concerned about passing a drug test. Special drinks and practices can be dangerous, especially when it comes to flushing the body with excessive fluids or depleting the body of electrolytes and nutrients. 

3. How long do psychedelic drugs stay in your system?

The duration that psychedelic drugs stay in your system can vary depending on the drug, dosage, frequency of use, and metabolism. Generally, drugs can be detected in urine and blood samples for several days after use.

For psychedelic mushrooms, urine tests only detect them for up to 48 hours after use at most. For other psychedelics like ketamine, urine tests can detect it for up to two weeks. Hair follicle testing, on the other hand, can detect psychedelic usage for up to 90 days.

Final Thoughts

We at Psychedelic Passage offer support through providing resources and connecting clients with a network of pre-vetted psychedelic facilitators located all over the United States. Our professional guides specialize in harm-reduction and guidance for your mind-altering journey, but also offer support for microdosing, preparation, and integration as well.

If you are looking for safe ways to have intentional psychedelic experiences, we encourage you to book a consultation with our knowledgeable psychedelic concierges. Stay safe and check out our resources page for more information and articles on everything to do with psychedelics!

nick and jimmy headshot, psychedelic passage co-founders

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