Health Encyclopedia

Amphetamine Screen (Urine)

Does this test have other names?

Drug test, AMP, toxicology urine screen

What is this test?

This test detects the presence of amphetamine in your urine. Amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant, and it can show up in your urine long after you've taken it. This group of drugs also includes methamphetamine, or "meth."

Amphetamine is a commonly used illicit drug that overstimulates the central nervous system and makes users feel unusually alert, energetic, and productive. Stimulants like amphetamine and methamphetamine can also cause euphoria, overwhelming agitation, delusions, and hallucinations. Feelings of aggression and paranoia can make people more prone to violence. Abusing these drugs can also cause other serious health problems, including stroke, heart disease, convulsions, and severe tooth decay.

Amphetamine also has medical uses. Doctors sometimes prescribe the drug in small doses for patients with attention-deficit disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In addition, doctors sometimes use the drug to treat depression and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder marked by falling into a sudden deep sleep in inappropriate places or situations.

Why do I need this test?

Amphetamine can be dangerous to your health if you take too much. If you have been prescribed this drug, your health care provider may use this test to make sure you are taking your dose. An emergency room doctor may also order a blood or urine screen for methamphetamine, which metabolizes to amphetamine, if you come to the ER with signs of a drug overdose. These signs include:

  • Hyperactivity

  • High blood pressure

  • Dilated pupils

  • Hyperthermia, or high body temperature

  • Aggressiveness

  • Irrational violence

  • Psychosis

  • Rapid heart beat

  • Severe agitation

Even if you do not use amphetamines, your workplace may require you to have the test as a condition of employment. If you are a parolee or someone being treated for drug abuse, you may also be required to take this test to show that you are abstaining from drug abuse.

Companies often use urine tests to screen new employees for drugs, including amphetamine. Although urine tests are less expensive than blood tests, they can be problematic because people have found ways to cheat the test and appear drug-free. Cheating usually involves adding a substance to the urine sample to alter the test results.

Another problem is that surveillance to prevent cheating is intrusive. Some testers insist on being present while a person provides a urine sample, and this can be embarrassing. 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

You may also have a blood test to screen for drugs such as amphetamine. Amphetamine can even be detected in a strand of your hair, although this test is not considered as reliable as a blood or urine test.

If you have injected amphetamines or other drugs, your doctor may test you for viruses that commonly affect drug users, such as HIV or hepatitis B or C.

If you have signs of a methamphetamine overdose, a doctor may also order a fingerstick blood sugar test, acetaminophen test, and ECG to rule out other medical emergencies or monitor your condition. Doctors may also order tests to check your electrolyte balance and the health of your kidneys and liver.  

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

A positive result means you most likely have used this drug within the last one to four days. If you take amphetamine often, it may show up in your urine for up to a week after using it.

Results only show that amphetamine was in your system at the time of the test. A positive test result should be confirmed by a certified laboratory. Doctors diagnose amphetamine abuse only after a physical exam that includes taking your personal history and talking with you. If you have a problem with amphetamine abuse, your doctor can suggest treatment for addiction, drug abuse, or depression.   

How is this test done?

This test requires a urine sample to be tested in a lab.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risk.

The results of your test may affect your ability to obtain a driver's license, get a job, or participate in the military or certain sports.

What might affect my test results?

In some cases, it's possible to get a positive test result even if you do not take amphetamines. This is called a false positive. Test results have come back positive because patients used a Vicks inhaler or have taken certain antihistamines or cold medications. You may also get a false positive if you use the drug bupropion for depression or to help you quit smoking. Talk with your health care provider about whether the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take could cause a false positive test result.

How do I get ready for this test?

You do not need to prepare for this test. 

  



Medical Reviewers:

  • Sohrabi, Farrokh, MD
  • Stock, Christopher J, PharmD