Frequently Asked Questions
Can poppy seeds cause false positives for opiates?
Poppy seeds do contain trace amounts of morphine, but it would require about 100 poppy seed bagels to reach enough to cause a positive (failed) test result. A 1996 episode of the highly popular sitcom Seinfeld may have helped perpetuate this urban legend.
An episode of MythBusters tested this legend, and found that as little as three poppy-seed bagels was enough to cause a positive result for the remainder of the day they were eaten (though participants tested clean the following day). The results of this experiment are inconclusive, however, because a test was used with an opiate cutoff level of 300 ng/mL instead of the current SAMHSA recommended cutoff level used in the DOT or DOT Look A Like 5 test, which was raised from 300 ng/mL to 2,000 ng/mL in 1998 in order to avoid such false positives from poppy seeds. In addition, one thing poppy seeds do not do is serve as an alibi for heroin: a unique metabolite (6-monoacetylmorphine or 6AM) is produced from heroin use that is never produced from consuming any other substance, let alone poppy seeds.
Can the drug test determine if someone is abusing their own prescribed drug?
Unfortunately with one single urine test identifying abuse of legally prescribed drugs is not possible. We asked our USA Mobile Drug Testing Professionals – our Medical Review Officer (MRO) and our Toxicology Scientist for a further explanation.
MRO: The reasons are there are too many variables that cannot be confirmed. Examples: if a donor takes their legit RX at night, sleeps, wakes– does not void, goes to work gets pulled as random. There is going to be a higher concentration of the drug in that sample vs. their second or third void of the morning. There are not correlating levels in the urine to equal use and misuse.
Toxicology Scientist: Typically, prescription abuse cannot be detected in a urine drug testing program. The levels are highly variable dependent upon a number of pharmacological factors such as collection time vs. dose time; fluid intake can cause the levels to fluctuate by a factor of 10 or more. In extreme cases a qualified toxicologist or Medical Review Officer (MRO) might suggest the possibility of abuse, but again only in extreme cases.
For someone in a treatment program under care of a treatment provider or Substance Abuse Professional, ongoing testing could help in determining appropriate use of the prescribed drug.
Is drug testing expensive?
For the result achieved, drug testing is very inexpensive. For example, it is estimated we spend $700 on equipment to protect a football player. A drug test only costs somewhere between $60 and $120 and provides health protection. Any School, College, Business, that receives federal education funding is permitted to use federal funds for drug testing.
“The Leave No Child Behind Act” (HR 1) specifically authorizes the expenditure of federal education funds for student drug testing.
Is this program fair to all students and business sectors?
Schools want to be proactive in preventing drug use among students. Drug testing is a proven deterrent to illicit drug use. Kids know they have nothing to worry about if they don’t use illegal drugs. It couldn’t be a simpler or fairer system.
Are the tests accurate and confidential?
If schools follow basic drug testing procedures students will donate the urine specimen in a private rest room area. There are strict confidentiality procedures that govern the specimen and the releasing of test results. No one wants to unfairly accuse anyone of drug use. The drug testing procedures in place today eliminate the possibility of a false positive. First, there is a screening test that is then confirmed by a more sensitive test. If the confirmation test is positive it is then reviewed by a physician trained in drug testing who then contacts the customer to see if there is a legitimate medical reason for the positive test.
Doesn’t drug testing create an accusatory attitude that will breed distrust or further alienate students and adults?
It’s not a trust issue, it’s a health and safety issue. As we said when dealing with the Soviet Union during the Cold War – “trust but verify.” We are talking about human beings here. We must protect them. Everyone that has a drug testing programs reports that the atmosphere becomes more positive. In addition, drug test results are used for counseling purposes and are not turned over to law enforcement.
Will personnel who test positive have their future prospects in the workplace compromised by the test results?
No. Drug test results are kept confidential and federal law prevents them from being released outside. The results do not follow them once he or she leaves. See, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Why test athletes and students in extracurricular activities? Doesn’t this discourage students from participating in extracurricular activities and sports?
The experience of those who implement drug testing show that they do not stop being athletes or participating in extracurricular activities. In fact, many report these experiences improve because they are drug free.
By testing athletes, private sector and student in extracurricular activities aren’t you testing the wrong personnel?
Experience shows even athletes and students involved in extracurricular activities use illegal drugs. Schools that test athletes and students in extracurricular activities experience an overall decline in drug use among all students. This is in part due to the role model effect that kids will follow leaders such as athletes and students in extracurricular activities. Schools that test also have a decline in drug use incidents. Violence and other disruptions decrease and the faculty feels less threatened because students are not using drugs. Students and faculty report better morale. Athletic performance is enhanced by being drug and alcohol free.