Last updated: October 2, 2023
Employee drug tests have evolved over the years to become far more sophisticated. Back in the early days, merely drinking a lot of water before reporting to the test site usually did the trick. Laboratory equipment wasn’t as sophisticated at reading drug tests back in the 90s as it is now either. Today, someone trying to achieve a false negative result walks a very fine line.
Ingesting too much liquid into the body in a short span of time throws the creatinine levels off. When that happens, the drug test results in either a positive or negative dilute. A positive dilute indicates a diluted urine specimen that also tested positive for drugs. A negative dilute means no drugs but a diluted specimen. Either way, many employers treat those results the same as a positive drug test. In the case of a negative dilute, the employee may be given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to test again.
Still, that doesn’t stop some employees who use drugs from trying. However, hoping you ingested the exact amount of liquid necessary to squeak past a dilute result is far from the only method that cheating employees use.
Trying to beat urine drug tests
While you can never say never, false positive results on urine drug tests are extremely rare. However, the age-old debate as to whether or not ingesting poppy seeds can cause a false positive due to the opiate residue that may remain on the seeds is still an argument used. If allowed to re-test, the employee simply refrains from drug use for the time being.
Other ways dishonest employees try to achieve a false negative are:
Using manufactured “Detox” drinks
It didn’t take long for detoxification—marketed as detox—products to hit the stores. These products claim to remove or mask drug metabolites so they don’t show up on the test. Do they actually work? The small print always contain a disclaimer. And, the directions are very specific. It makes one wonder if the actuality of it all is that when followed explicitly, the consumer has a chance of squeaking by without a diluted test result.
Certain over-the-counter products
Over-the-counter products that include, but aren’t limited to, aspirin, baking soda, or Sure Jell are said to mask drug use, only if used with exact measurements, however. There are also warnings of the dangers of ingesting too much of the product. That sounds a little daunting, but you know what they say about desperate times—
Eating specific foods
They say eating healthy clears drug metabolites from the system more quickly. Avoiding fatty foods is another tip that is a good idea—especially if you smoke marijuana— because drug metabolites stow away there.
Sweating it out in a sauna
The sauna theory is in hopes drug using employees can sweat all the drugs out of their system… as dehydration sets in if they aren’t careful!
The exercise theory is likely to backfire—especially if they’re hoping to hide marijuana use—burning fat is going to release the metabolites back into the system at higher levels.
Synthetic urine is the latest method to hit the black market. It can be very hard for equipment alone to detect that the specimen isn’t natural. Lab technicians are in on the ploy, though. Although it appears that urine is free of “debris,” there are small particles of “stuff” floating in it. Believe it or not, the naked eye is a vital tool in the field of drug testing. If something doesn’t look right, further testing determines whether the specimen is synthetic or not.
Trying to beat oral fluid drug tests
The oral fluid drug test is becoming more popular because it affords employers the ability to determine recent drug use. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) began allowing federally mandated employers to use the test on January 1, 2020. However, it’s up to each individual entity as to whether or not they will incorporate it into their drug testing procedures.
Products claiming to beat oral fluid drug tests are all over the place. They include mouthwashes, chewing gum, and specific brands of toothpaste—which, of course, all include disclaimers somewhere on the packaging.
A quick online search can have them delivered to your door in a matter of days—possibly next day if one is willing to bear the expense. Trying to save your job because you smoked a joint yesterday and got popped with a random today could seem a viable reason to some.
Specific over-the-counter products to try just before the test include chewing Altoid mints, swigging lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, swishing hydrogen peroxide or—horror of horrors—bleach in your mouth. The last two product suggestions both include pleas to use extreme caution and not to swallow the substances.
That should be a no-brainer!
And, of course, there’s this marijuana-specific trick—because marijuana metabolites are attracted to fat cells, eating boatloads of fatty foods just prior to the test attracts the metabolites in your saliva to the fat. Therefore, your mouth will be drug-free for the test!
The only problem with that philosophy is that your mouth is constantly secreting saliva, so, umm…
Trying to beat hair drug tests
Employers are beginning to realize the value of the hair test. It’s currently the most expensive of the three employee drug testing methods. Even so, a growing number of employers are switching to the test because of the 90-day detection period. As a matter of fact, employers in the trucking industry are choosing to take on the expense of the test for pre-employment testing. Employers are reporting that when applicants learn they must submit to a hair test in addition to the federally mandated urine test, they get up and walk out.
That doesn’t stop some from trying to get over on the test though.
Here’s a quick list of ways they try:
- Shaving off all the hair on their heads—which means that the collector has to gather it from other places.
- Detox shampoos—you can’t wash away something that is part of the hair itself.
- Home remedies—including, but are not limited to, substances such as tar shampoo, laundry detergent (Tide’s certainly a popular brand), detox salts, and vinegar.
How to beat a drug test
The only true way to get negative results on drug tests is not to use drugs. Anything else is being dishonest—with the person’s employer, fellow workmates, and, most of all, themselves.
Nobody wakes up one morning making a conscious decision to get hooked on drugs. What starts out as a casual experience that makes them feel good turns into a nightmare of an existence. Once the brain falsely accepts the drug as being a “normal” component of the life cycle, it sends out warning signals—withdrawal symptoms. As withdrawal symptoms set in, the discomfort level grows and can sometimes be life-threatening.
Once a person finds themselves there, the vicious cycle of drug addiction ensues.
If an employee tests positive for drugs, letting them go is understandable. They’re putting themselves and others at a higher risk of being involved in an accident. That’s unacceptable. However, consider the fact that this is likely the rock bottom moment for the employee. Voicing your concern for their well-being—for that of their family, as well—and expressing hope for their future could be the catalyst for change.
Living life drug-free is worth the struggle of fighting addiction. Let them know you stand with them in the battle.