Drug Testing Myths Debunked

Random drug tests in the workplace are more common today than in the past. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, drug tests undoubtedly play a role in your life in some capacity. There’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to how drug tests work and what can cause you to pass or fail a test. Let’s separate fact from fiction. 

Here are common myths about drug tests we need to debunk.

If your employer has a safety policy that includes a scheduled drug test in Seattle, there are steps you can take that reduce the chance of a false positive. Understanding the myths will help you be better prepared. 

Myth: Drinking A Lot of Water Can Help Trick the Test

There’s this misconception that drinking an excessive amount of water leading up to a drug test can dilute your urine enough so the test won’t pick up on any substances in your system. People will also do this in an attempt to flush out their system as quickly as possible to rid it of any illegal substances completely.

A word of warning to anyone considering trying this: while it can make it harder to detect substances in your body, it will likely be obvious you’re trying to cheat the test.

Here’s why.

There are specific markers drug tests look for to determine that the specimen was indeed genuine. Aside from specific substances, something else most drug tests measure is the level of creatinine in your body. Creatinine is a byproduct of digestion. When you drink a lot of water, your creatinine goes up. This is a sign to drug test professionals that an individual consumed an excessive amount of water.

At best, a person who attempts this will end up with a negative dilute result, which means the employee should be asked to submit another urine sample or a test that’s harder to cheat, like a hair follicle drug test for alcohol or drugs.

Myth: Diuretics Can Help You Pass a Drug Test

Just like trying to flush their system out with water, some people will take diuretics — any substance that increases your body’s urine production — in an attempt to empty or rid their body of any illegal drugs. Diuretics can be over-the-counter pills or beverages like coffee and tea.

While diuretics might dehydrate you, in the process, they will also alter other naturally occurring chemicals in your body, raising a red flag to those conducting your drug test. In other words, it will likely be obvious the person took diuretics.

Myth: Certain Medications Can Cause a Positive Drug Test

It’s true certain ingredients in both over-the-counter and prescription medicines can be picked up by drug tests. However, in the case of the latter of the two, you simply provide the prescription to prove your doctor told you to take the medication. It’s also important you disclose any over-the-counter medicines you’re taking that might have interfered with your test.

In the case your medicine does interfere, the tests results would be a false positive — not a positive — meaning you were not using drugs in a manner you were not supposed to. 

Myth: You Can Beat a Drug Test With Synthetic Urine

Some people will try to beat a drug test with synthetic urine. This is urine they’ll typically purchase and swap with their own.

However, similar to how ARCpoint Labs of Seattle West can determine if a urine specimen has been diluted, there are specific markers looked for to determine if it’s not the individual’s real urine, like the pH level and its temperature. When these numbers are outside their normal ranges, drug test professionals know they’re looking at synthetic urine.

Myth: You Can Fail a Drug Test After Eating Poppy Seeds

While poppy seeds do come from the opium poppy, it’s highly unlikely that you could ever consume enough to trigger a drug test. Consuming them won’t make you high and could probably never cause a pharmacological effect.

Types of Tests

There are several options available to employers that want to test employees for drug or alcohol use. The Department of Transportation and organizations that employ heavy equipment operators often use a 7-panel drug test, which tests for prescription drug abuse. A standard 10-panel test looks for:

  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methadone
  • Quaaludes
  • Propoxyphene

Disputing Positive Tests

Some substances can remain in the urine for weeks but are only detectable for a few days in the blood. As a result, drug panels are not foolproof. Employees can request tests that confirm the positive claim. This is often done through blood tests, rather than by taking saliva or hair and nail samples. Factors that affect how long drugs stay in the system include your age, health, gender, weight, ethnicity, and the volume of the substance ingested.

Contact Us Today

Setting up and running drug and alcohol test programs properly can be complex. At ARCpoint Labs of Seattle West, we can help employers develop scheduled and random drug test procedures to maintain a safer work environment. Contact us today or call (206) 455-8970 to learn more about the types of tests we offer and our on-site testing services.