Drug testing has become a standard procedure to ensure safety in the workplace and the assurance of healthy living. More than merely identifying the use of drugs by a person, drug tests are now used to check for drug use of job applicants, students who engage in extra-curricular activities, workers in highly sensitive jobs, and family members living in one household.
To understand the importance and value of drug testing in society, we need to discuss some of the important facts about drug abuse and drug testing.
- According to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), close to 68 percent of identified illicit drug users are under employment.
- The annual report entitled Monitoring The Future revealed in 2015 that 34.9 percent of 12th graders were engaged in marijuana use within the past year.
- Here’s a very convincing figure: Roughly 95 percent of companies that conduct drug testing use urine as the test sample, based on the results of this survey.
In this age of widespread drug abuse, the need for fast and accurate drug testing has become significant, and this has led to the development of a wide variety of drug testing methods:
- Urine drug test
- Hair drug test
- Blood drug test
- Saliva drug test
- Sweat / perspiration drug test
Urine Drug Testing: Most Common Drug Identification Method
To date, urine drug testing has emerged as the most popular drug testing method. Many individuals, companies and schools have turned to this kind of drug testing because of its various advantages:
- Non-intrusive: Other drug testing methods require human body samples that are extracted through painful or intrusive methods. Taking a urine sample is absolutely painless.
- Wide scope: Urine is a bodily fluid that contains a cornucopia of compounds, including drug metabolites such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, opioids, and alcohol.
- Reliable: Most drug compounds stay in your urine for a fairly long time. This guarantees the drug test laboratory that the contents of the urine sample won’t change over time. Of course, this happens under the assumption that the sample is properly stored and free from tampering.
Process of Urine Drug Testing
Using urine as a basis to identify drug metabolites follows a fairly easy procedure. If you’re the sample donor, here’s the basic process of how urine drug testing is conducted:
- You will be asked to visit a pre-assigned collection facility or sample collection area. You will receive a specimen cup, into which you will put your sample of fresh urine.
- For precautionary measures, the people in-charge of administering the drug test will check your bags and pockets. They may require you to leave your things in a separate room, and ask you to change into a hospital gown. Don’t be surprised if someone will be present in the bathroom with you as you take the urine sample – they will simply ensure that you’re not going to cheat the test.
- The collection agency will probably advise you to take the middle part of the urine stream and discard the initial and final streams. The urine is to be placed into the cup provided, which you will seal with the accompanying cover.
- The urine sample is labeled for proper identification and taken by the collection agency, which will then turn it over to the drug testing laboratory.
- The drug testing lab prepares the urine sample and determines the presence of drug metabolites using chemical analysis.
- After the tests are completed, the drug test results are sent to the entity who requested the testing (i.e. individual, school, or company). Depending on the situation, you might just need to wait a few moments for the results to come out.
- Results are usually expressed in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), and will be compared with a cutoff point. Any value above this cutoff point is a positive result, while a value lower than the cutoff is considered negative.
Cheating in Drug Tests
Nearly all companies require drug tests before hiring job applicants. Pre-employment drug testing has become one of the most controversial requirements in job hiring, because it has led many applicants to get rejected from work. As a result, some applicants – especially those who know that they just took drugs – resort to cheating their way out of drug tests.
Below are three of the most popular ways to cheat a drug test:
1. Sample dilution
Diluting a urine sample – by directly adding water to the specimen – is done to increase the proportion of water in the urine to minimize or dilute the presence of any drug metabolite. Most sample collection stations put dye in toilet bowls and shut off faucets to prevent any attempt to dilute the urine sample.
2. Ingestion of detox drinks
Flushing the body of toxins to get a negative result in drug tests is another popular trick. Manufacturers of special drinks – commonly known as detox drinks – claim to help in the process of getting rid of drug compounds by making a person urinate frequently. Some products of this kind take effect after an hour or two, and the effects usually don’t last long.
There’s reason to doubt that these detox products work, but some people vouch for its effectiveness. Of course, the secret behind these products is that you’re supposed to drink lots and lots of water for the detoxification to work. In truth, it’s the water that’s flushing out the drug compounds from your system, and not the so-called detox drink.
3. Use of synthetic urine
Synthetic urine was originally designed to calibrate drug testing equipment in preparation for testing real human urine. Unfortunately, this substance is now widely used to replace real urine in order to “hide” the drugs in a person’s body. According to synthetic urine manufacturers, the strategy works because most testing centers hardly conduct genetic analysis on the specimen.
However, what potential cheaters don’t know is that synthetic urine is not easy to sneak in. Some of the reasons include the following:
- Strict surveillance: Collection agencies are stringent in terms of checking up on sample donors. Some centers require you to open the door while you’re dispensing the sample into the collection cup, while others inspect pockets and bags to check for fake urine.
- Urine temperature: Freshly dispensed urine is normally between 90 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit, close to human body temperature. Unless you bring a heating device and achieve the perfect urine temperature, you really cannot get away with synthetic urine.
Drug Test Cheating Myths Debunked
Due to the wide implementation of drug tests in many areas of society, it’s not surprising that a lot of hearsay and beliefs may muddle the truth. Let us discuss some of the most common myths surrounding drug tests, and the real score behind each of them.
Myth 1: Passing a drug test is required in all companies that you plan to work in.
Probably due to the global emphasis on the importance of drug tests, one popular misconception is that all companies require their workers to undergo and pass a drug test. In a sense, the truth comes in terms of some companies requiring a drug test from job applicants and new employees.
However, the operative word here is “all”. Not all companies treat drug testing as a requirement. Most business owners in the field of medicine, engineering and construction may implement this, but companies in other fields of specialization may not be that strict when it comes to drug use. Of course, their general leniency comes with the assumption that you’re not going to use drugs during office time.
Myth 2: You can use homemade remedies that can guarantee a negative drug test result.
The Internet is a rich source of information about drug testing, but some of the online content may not be accurate or even true. If you read somewhere that drinking cranberry juice or increasing your intake of certain vitamins can affect the integrity of drug test results, think again. Many of these “truths” are merely tall tales of people who claim to have the secret homemade formula to cheat a drug test.
To date, there has been no concrete research on the effectiveness of homemade remedies to render a drug test result inaccurate. Relying on this kind of fallacy could spell disaster on your next drug test.
Myth 3: Drink lots and lots of water in order to hide and dilute drug metabolites in your urine sample.
Let’s be clear: Diluting the drug compounds in urine by drinking lots of water is actually true. Drinking water in excessive amounts can effectively reduce the concentration of drug metabolites (such as THC from marijuana). However, this strategy also dilutes the natural components of your urine, which the testing lab can detect. For instance, an extremely low concentration of creatinine in urine is considered a warning sign of drug test cheating.
Myth 4: Intense physical activity can increase your chances of passing a drug test.
Attempting to cheat a drug test is really a gamble, and this particular strategy is like playing a poor set of cards in a game of poker. Exercise improves the normal circulation of the body and enhances the removal of toxins – and drug compounds – from the body. However, this will work only if the drug test is roughly a month away.
Unfortunately, many of the drug tests in companies are unannounced and unscheduled. You may not be able to predict when the next drug test would be conducted, and so you wouldn’t know exactly when you should start exercising intensely. Would you really risk the chance of getting caught?
Myth 5: Compounds from marijuana stay in your body for a predetermined time, regardless of the cannabis variety
In the same manner that equal amounts of skimmed milk and full-cream milk have different fat contents, marijuana varieties also differ in THC concentration. Don’t think for a second that all marijuana products are created equal, because that will affect how you face drug tests.
Abstinence is still the best way to ensure a negative drug test. However, if you really have the urge to use marijuana, make sure that you know how strong it is.
Precautionary Measures To Prevent Cheating In Drug Tests
Drug testing has become a norm especially in the corporate world. Most companies conduct drug screening to ensure that the workplace is safe and that the business is being run by competent people as they make critical decisions for the company.
Since more companies are now implementing drug testing policies, cheating is a natural response by some employees. However, even though people have developed several ways to cheat, company owners should be alert and one step ahead of drug test cheaters.
Here are some tips to protect companies from potential cheating in drug tests:
- Follow a random and unannounced drug testing schedule. Surprising employees with a drug test will not give them room to use tricks such as diluting their urine samples with water or taking detox drinks (which need an hour or so to take effect). On-the-spot drug testing is a good and effective way to catch drug users off guard.
- Monitor check in times at collection sites. As the superior or the HR representative, you should be aware of the distance of the collection site from the employee workstations, as well as the duration of travel to and from the testing site. You can look into these things to check if there is dishonesty in your employees, because any delay gives a hint that they’re doing something malicious within the long time delay.
- Use different testing methods. Sticking to just one kind of specimen to test for drugs can give employees the opportunity to cheat. Feel free to use different drug testing sample specimens such as urine, hair, saliva and blood. This way, employees would be cornered from doing anything to fake the drug test.
- Invite collectors to come on site. Restricting the employees to go outside the company premises for drug test sample collection can reduce the incidence of cheating. Arrange the collection agency to visit your workplace instead.
Because of the stringent measures that drug testing entails – and the stigma that people experience when they test positive for drug use – many people resort to cheating. Whatever your status is – a company owner or an employee, a school administrator or a student, a parent or a child – it is important to note that there is no easy way to cheat a drug test. In fact, we can all say that cheating a drug test is a futile endeavor.
The best way to pass a drug test is to not take drugs. Period.