What is Amphetamine Screening (Blood) test?

Amphetamines are a class of drugs that are prescribed to people with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson's disease, obesity, depression and narcolepsy (uncontrolled episodes of sleep). They stimulate the central nervous system and improve mental focus. Amphetamines also help you stay awake and alert. 

However, due to the high they produce, amphetamines are one of the most abused drugs. Prolonged use of amphetamines can cause violent and unpredictable behaviour and psychosis similar to schizophrenia which is characterised by paranoia, picking at the skin and hallucinations.

An amphetamine screening blood test determines the concentration of amphetamine in a person’s blood. It may be given to check for drug overdose or abuse.

  1. Why is an Amphetamine Screening (Blood) test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for an Amphetamine Screening (Blood) Test?
  3. How is an Amphetamine Screening (Blood) test performed?
  4. What do Amphetamine Screening (Blood) test results mean?

If you have been prescribed amphetamines, your doctor may request this test if he/she wants to make sure that you are taking the right dose. Amphetamine overdose can have severe impacts on the body which manifest in the form of: 

  • High body temperature
  • Heart failure
  • Paranoia
  • Irregular or increased heartbeats (Read more: Arrhythmia causes)
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased activity
  • Euphoria
  • Heightened sense of well-being
  • Decreased fatigue/drowsiness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased respiration
  • Increased alertness/energy
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Palpitations
  • Altered sexual behaviour
  • Tremor of small muscles
  • Release of social inhibitions
  • Unrealistic feelings of cleverness, great competence and power

This test may be ordered by the court to screen a person as part of a court case or before giving the child’s custody to a parent. 

Additionally, it is ordered by employers before hiring a person or as part of a routine workplace drug test. Athletes are requested to undergo this test to check for the use of amphetamine as a performance enhancer. 

Prolonged use of amphetamines can result in the following symptoms: 

  • Toxic psychosis
  • Irrational violence
  • Dangerously high blood temperature 
  • Severe agitation 
  • Physiological and behavioural disorders
  • Dizziness
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mood changes
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Repetitive motor activity
  • Convulsions, coma and death
  • Malnutrition
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Flush or pale skin
  • Loss of coordination and physical collapse
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No special preparation is required for this test. Inform your doctor about all prescription and non-prescription medicines, illicit drugs or supplements that you may be taking. 

Certain medications such as antihistamines, nasal inhalers, cold medicines or medicines used for depression like tricyclic medicines, quetiapine and bupropion can give false-positive results in this test. A false-positive result is when you get a positive test result even though you are not taking amphetamines. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking these drugs. Do not discontinue any prescription medicine on your own.

Your doctor or laboratory technician will explain the steps of the test to you before it is conducted. He/she will draw a small blood sample from a vein in your arm in the following way:

  • The technician will tie an elastic band around your upper arm and ask you to tighten your fist. This will help locate a vein for sample withdrawal.
  • He/she will then insert a sterile needle into the vein and withdraw a small amount of blood.
  • After the sample is collected, the band will be removed and the site will be covered with a bandage.
  • The technician will then label the sample and send it to the laboratory for testing.

You may experience a slight sting when the needle is inserted. Also, there may be some bruising and soreness at the site of needle insertion, but these symptoms usually subside soon. Please inform your doctor if any of these symptoms persist.

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Normal results:

Normal results indicate that amphetamine is absent in the given blood sample or the concentration is low enough that it can be categorised as therapeutic or prescribed use. Amphetamine concentrations between 0.02 and 0.05 milligrams/litre (mg/L) and up to 0.2 mg/L are considered safe for therapeutic use.

Abnormal results:

A concentration above the reference range is considered as abnormal. An abnormal result indicates that amphetamine is present in high amounts in the given blood sample. Concentrations greater than 0.2 mg/L show that a person has been abusing amphetamine. When levels are more than 2.5 mg/L, it is considered toxic and can be fatal.

Please discuss your results with your doctor to know precisely what they mean for you.

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.


  1. Center for Substance Abuse Research [internet]. University of Maryland (U.S.A.). Amphetamines
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Drug Testing
  3. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; Amphetamine Screen (Blood)
  4. The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services [Internet]. (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County. Facts about Methamphetamine
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [Internet]. Bethesda (MD). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [Internet]. Bethesda (MD). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [internet]; Drugs of Abuse Home Use Test
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