Testing It Up

Alere Toxicology Webinar Highlights Ways People Cheat Drug Tests

People will go to great lengths to beat a drug test if they have been abusing a substance. From paying exorbitant prices for useless body cleanses to purchasing prosthetic penises and synthetic urine, the range of items to cheat on a drug test are as varied as they are entertaining to read about. drug testing Texas politicians

Pat Pizzo, head of toxicology at Alera Toxicology, recently gave a webinar on the various drug cheating methods and what testers need to be on the lookout for and what they need to do to counteract cheating.

Some highlights from the webinar include:

  • The majority of “cleansing” teas and other products are useless because these products are either just diuretics or only work if the person drinks a lot of the liquid, which would be the same as drinking a lot of plain water.
  •  People who drink excessive amounts of liquids will also take B Vitamins to turn their clear urine back to yellow.
  • Testing for creatinine levels and specific gravity will detect diluted samples, even if the color is yellow.
  • Most — but not all — items that people add to urine to cheat a drug test are easily detectable.
  • Most devices that people wear to hold clean urine to avoid giving their own will have some way of heating that urine to body temperature like heating pads, hand warmers or a plastic wedge to be clenched between the buttocks.
  • Bleaching the hair strips melanin from the hair and thus strips traces of drugs from the hair, too.
  • Shampoos alone will not strip drug traces from the hair.
  • People can purchase special mouthwashes and gum for beating an oral fluid test, but it is not clear if these items work.

To see the full coverage of the webinar, click here.


May 16, 2014 at 8:43 am Comments (0)

TestCountry Co-Founder Zeynep Ilgaz Talks About Implementing Workplace Drug Testing

Drug testing in the workplace can face stiff opposition — mainly from labor unions and human rights activists — because incorrect implementation can violate the privacy of workers.

Zeynep-IlgazZeynep Iglaz, co-founder of TestCountry, recently shared some tips on how to effectively implement workplace drug testing. In her article for Under30CEO, she expounds on the advantages of implementing a company-wide drug testing program, as well as advice on how to carry out the program.

Highlights of the tips include:

  1. Customize your policy
  2. Put it all on paper
  3. Communicate with your employees

For further details on implementation of drug testing policies in the workplace, read Ilgaz’s article at Under30CEO.

May 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm Comments (0)

TestCountry Interviews Corporate Drug Testing Expert Bill Current

Bill Current (courtesy of BillCurrent.com)

Bill Current (courtesy of BillCurrent.com)

Bill Current, who is president of WFC & Associates, LLC, says the three biggest issues on the horizon for corporate drug testing are the continued march of marijuana legalization for both medical and recreational purposes, the upcoming federal regulations on oral fluid drug testing and the continuing trend of companies demanding to know the return on investment of corporate drug testing.

TestCountry recently spoke with Current about the importance of having a drug testing policy in place and the simplest and most cost-effective way a company can develop one.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome for companies that want to implement a drug testing program, Current notes, is the maze of various state laws that a company has to navigate through to make sure it is complying with all the laws it needs to.

On top of the state laws, there are also federal regulations to consider, which adds to the confusion of drawing up a comprehensive drug testing policy, which is why it’s important for businesses to make sure they are doing it correctly, Current adds.

To read the full interview with this corporate drug testing expert, click here.

April 24, 2014 at 7:48 am Comments (0)

Michigan Mulls Possible Roadside Saliva Testing for Marijuana Use

Michigan lawmakers are debating a measure that would allow police to conduct roadside saliva tests to help them detect marijuana usage among drivers.marijuana legalization

The proposed legislation has some medical marijuana users concerned that the saliva tests would inadvertently catch medical marijuana users, even when they’re not under the influence.

“These tests are very flawed,” said Adam Macdonald of Grosse Pointe Farms, chairman of the National Patients Rights Association, a nationwide advocacy group for medical-marijuana users.

“I’ve heard this will kick the ability to drive right out from under anyone who uses medical marijuana for up to 20 days” before the test, Macdonald said.

However, the real aim of the bills is to catch repeat offenders of drugged driving, said State Rep.  Dan Lauwers, a Republican from Brockway Township near Port Huron, who co-sponsored the bill.

Saliva testing is “not critical to this legislation” although Michigan’s police officers deserve to have it available, he said. ”We need to look to the future.  This kind of testing has been approved in California.”

The saliva tests have not been approved throughout California but are being used in field trials by Los Angeles police to see if results can qualify as court-admissible evidence.

Under the Michigan proposal, motorists would not be arrested simply for failing the saliva test but only after being pulled over for “erratic driving.” Then the saliva test would add confirming evidence, just as portable breath testers do in cases of drunken drivers to justify an arrest.

“What we’re really after is repeat offenders,” Lauwers said.

Saliva testing detects a subject’s level of active THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. It is performed by taking a swab from inside a person’s mouth and testing it for a chemical reaction that detects the presence of THC.


April 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm Comments (0)

Scientists Develop Fluorescent Date Rape Drug Sensor

A new study has taken another step towards preventing the potential of date rape drugs to victimize unsuspecting women.

Photo credit: National Univ. of Singapore

Photo credit: National Univ. of Singapore

Prof. Chang Young-Tae and his team of researchers from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Chemistry identified an orange fluorescent substance that can detect the presence of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), a well-known date rape drug. The compound, which the research team named as GHB Orange, was found to change its color as it reacts with GHB.

The study, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry online journal, involved an investigation of a number of known fluorescent dyes, which were mixed with varying concentrations of the date rape drug compound. GHB Orange was singled out because of its effectiveness and observable visual change in the presence of GHB, according to a news report.

What’s beneficial about this date rape drug sensor is its ease of use. Visual results can be observed within 30 seconds after mixing GHB Orange with a suspected spiked beverage.

GHB has become infamous for its effectiveness to render a person incapacitated, resulting in a higher risk of sexual crimes. The date rape drug is undetectable to the naked eye, and does not emit any identifying odor. The drug is very potent: ingesting just two grams of GHB may result in unconsciousness less than 30 minutes after ingesting the drug. The incapacitating effect can last up to six hours. It is not detectable in urine until up to six to 12 hours after it is ingested.

March 27, 2014 at 8:14 pm Comments (0)

Colorado Employers Allegedly Discriminating Against Marijuana Users

Although marijuana is now legal in Colorado for recreational use, many employers still consider it a controlled substance (as it is classified federally) and discriminate against its users. drug testing Texas politiciansUrine drug tests are often used to screen potential employees by having them pass a pre-employment drug check or by screening employees by random drug testing on the job.

Drug testing business MCC, located in Grand Junction, said they’ve seen hundreds of jobs impacted by failed drug tests, particularly for marijuana, which is the drug most likely to show up in a urinalysis test.

“I want to say about 80% of our positives are for marijuana,” said MCC drug test collector Kyle Raaflaub. “THC stores in the fat cells so some people that aren’t very active… can have THC in their system up to 45 days. Vicodin, oxycontin, stuff like that, ecstacy, cocaine… those will only have a time table of 24 to 36 hours.”

Testing positive for any amount of marijuana is legal grounds to prevent employment or immediate termination.

Staffing agency Labor etc. says it must turn away potential employment candidates on a weekly basis for failing a drug test due to having THC, marijuana’s psychoactive substance, in their system.

“We get a percentage of our potential employees that have come up positive for THC that argue the fact that it’s legal in Colorado,” said Labor etc. Sales Director Kris Cox. “That they should be able to smoke marijuana and still be accepted for a position, but it is the employer right to say no.”

Current Colorado Law favors business owners banning all personal employee marijuana use on the basis that this is an at-will state.

“Employers can generally terminate employees at their will for no reason, or for any reason as long as it’s a lawful reason,” said employment attorney Anna Itenberg.

The recently enacted Amendment 64 also has a clause reserving employers right’s to drug test. But this seems to contradict Colorado Division of Regulatory Agency’s off-duty statute, which was put in place to protect employees from termination based on what they do in their time outside of work such as cigarette smoking.

The statute reads, “It shall be a discriminatory… for an employer to terminate… any employee due to that employee’s engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours…”

The Colorado National Organization Reforming Marijuana Laws (CO NORML) said urinalysis testing should not be allowed because it gives positive results for marijuana activity that could’ve occurred weeks ago.

“The reason why we don’t think drug testing should be used is because drug testing for marijuana does not show any type of impairment,” said CO NORML executive director Rachel Gillette.

The state government says it’s okay to smoke marijuana medically and recreationally, but employers seem to disagree.

March 3, 2014 at 7:54 am Comments (0)

Sewage Tells the Tale of Drug Use in Communities

Chemistry professor Dan Burgard tested the sewage at the campus of at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, recently and found that “amphetamine levels go through the roof during finals.” drug testing

And Burgard isn’t the only scientist to test sewage to find out if a community has a drug problem. Sewage is a good indicator for drug use because when people take drugs, the substances are either unchanged or the body turns them into metabolites before they’re excreted.

“It amazes me it wasn’t really until 2005 that anyone had really done this or thought about doing this; now articles are constantly coming out about testing wastewater for drugs,” Burgard said. “With the technological advancements, this field is just going nuts.”

This kind of drug testing could be used to help with drug problems throughout the country, Caleb Banta-Green, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Washington, said.

“If you can look at drug trends through wastewater, you can have a conversation with your community and try to make changes. And then, testing the wastewater after such changes, you can see if you’re having an impact,” Banta-Green explained.

Sewage tests have already been going on across Europe and have given authorities there a portrait of what drugs are popular where:

• In London, cocaine and ecstasy spike on weekends while methadone is used more consistently.

• In Italy, cocaine use has declined while use of marijuana and amphetamines has increased.

• In Sweden and Finland, people use more amphetamines and methamphetamine and less cocaine than other European cities.

• In Finland, stimulants were more common in large cities.

• In Zagreb, Croatia, marijuana and heroin were the most commonly found illicit drugs, but cocaine and ecstasy showed up more frequently on weekends.

A few tests done in North America have also told some interesting stories:

• In Oregon, cocaine and ecstasy are more common in urban than in rural wastewater according to a 2009 study.

• During Superbowl weekend in Miami in 2010, drug levels in sewage did not differ much from a normal weekend.

• In three anonymous Canadian cities, cocaine was the most widely detected drug, while ecstasy levels were much lower than expected, according to a 2011 study.

While more than 20 studies on sewage have been conducted in Europe over the past decade, only a few have been conducted in North America.

Banta-Green said Europe got started with this research earlier but it’s starting to gain traction States side.

Studying wastewater has its disadvantages, like not telling you who’s using, how they’re using, or why they’re using. It also can’t tell you if a community has 100 heavy users or 1,000 light users of a drug.

But it also has some advantages over quantifying drug use with surveys, which can be suspect due to the illegality and stigma of drug use prompting people taking the surveys to not always be honest about their drug use.

Another advantage to testing sewage is that it also covers entire populations across racial, age, gender, and economic statuses.

And wastewater can also tell you about the ingredients in drugs.

“Increasingly, people have no idea what they’re even taking,” Banta-Green said. “I was looking at police evidence for the drugs in the Seattle area that were supposed to be ecstasy. The main ecstasy ingredient was only present in 26 of the 81 drugs. Sewage can tell us something about these ingredients.”

And although this type of drug testing is picking up steam, it also raises privacy and ethical concerns.

January 28, 2014 at 7:29 am Comments (0)

Unofficial poll shows most Americans would be in favor of drug testing members of congress

An internet survey has found that the majority of respondents are in favor of mandatory random drug testing for US members of congress.drug-testing-at-work

The Huffington Post ran the survey, which interviewed 1,000 US adults, Nov. 25 – 27.

The findings:

  • 64% of Americans favor requiring welfare recipients to submit to random drug testing, while 18% oppose it.
  •  78% of Americans favor random drug testing for members of Congress, while 7% oppose it.
  • 62% said they “strongly” favor drug testing for congressional lawmakers, compared to only 51% who said the same of welfare recipients.
  • 86% of Republicans, 77% of Democrats and 75% of independents said they want drug testing for members of Congress.
  • 66% said that a member of Congress convicted of possessing a small amount of cocaine should be forced to resign, while only 14% favored allowing the convicted member to serve out the remainder of his or her term.
  • 72% said they support random drug testing for members of the military, and 87% supported it for airline pilots and 71% said they support random drug testing for professional athletes.
December 4, 2013 at 8:34 am Comments (0)

Schools continue to debate mandatory drug testing in wake of federal ruling

Schools across the country continue to debate the usefulness of mandatory drug testing policies, according to a recent USA Today article. random drug testing

Just last month, a federal judge changed the legal landscape when it comes to mandatory drug testing in schools when he ruled that Linn State Technical College’s mandatory drug testing policy, when applied to most students, is unconstitutional.

Officials at the Missouri college said that the school put the mandatory drug testing program in place at the behest of community businesses that were likely to hire the school’s students. The school’s drug policy stated that if a student’s drug test came back positive, that student would meet with a counselor and could participate in an online substance abuse program. The student would then be required to take a second scheduled test and a third random test. If both subsequent tests were negative, the student could continue to be enrolled at the school and all test results would be destroyed at the end of the semester.

The lawsuit opposing the mandatory drug testing was brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri.

“Linn State required every incoming student to be tested for drugs, even though many of them would not be engaged in dangerous activities and the college had no reason to believe any particular student was using drugs,” said Jason Williamson, staff attorney at the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project at the time the judge had ruled the policy to be unconstitutional. He was also co-counsel on the case.

Addiction experts applauded the ruling, as it helps switch the focus from disciplining students, to actually helping them with the problem of potential addiction.

“Many schools continue to frame substance use by college students as an enforcement problem and therefore turn to policies such as drug testing as the solution,” said Susan Foster, Vice President and Director of Policy Research and Analysis at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. “The problem with this approach is that substance use and addiction are public health and medical issues. Enforcement strategies alone are unlikely to solve health problems.”


Colleges across the country are concerned about the increasing popularity of the drug Molly, the USA Today article notes. “There has always been fashion to drugs of the day … Chasing the problem one drug at a time is a costly game of whack-a-mole where use of one drug is addressed only to see the problem pop up in a different form,” Foster noted.

Molly is another name for MDMA, which is the powder that ecstasy pills are created from. It has recently been featured in pop songs that glorify its use.

A recent national survey of high school students found random drug testing in schools does not reduce students’ substance use. The study found students who attend schools where they feel treated with respect are less likely to start smoking cigarettes or marijuana.

October 15, 2013 at 5:51 am Comments (0)

Depressants Most Common Drug Associated with Fatal Vehicle Accidents

Drivers who test positive for drugs are threes times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than those who test negative, a new study has found.

Photo courtesy of Mike Kline on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Mike Kline on Flickr

And people who combine drugs and alcohol are 23 times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash, researchers at Columbia University revealed.

The study analyzed the results of roadside surveys completed by drivers about their drug and alcohol use and found that almost 32% of drivers involved in fatal crashes and around 14% of drivers not involved in accidents tested positive for at least one drug. Depressants were the most common drug associated with fatal accidents, followed by stimulants, narcotics and marijuana.

About 9% of drivers overall, and 57% of drivers involved in deadly accidents, had elevated blood alcohol levels. Twenty percent of drivers involved in crashes that involved a fatality tested positive for alcohol and one or more drugs, compared with just 2% of drivers overall.

The findings are published in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

“While alcohol-impaired driving remains the greatest threat to traffic safety, these findings about drugged driving are particularly salient in light of the increases in the availability of prescription stimulants and opioids over the past decade,” lead researcher Dr. Guohua Li said in a news release.

October 8, 2013 at 5:59 am Comments (0)

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