Last updated: January 18, 2021
Consuming a mass quantity of any liquid before a drug test can dilute the urine—coffee included. A diluted test result raises a red flag for employers though. It’s a huge sign that the employee may be trying to mask drug use.
That said, drug users, who follow the coffee “remedy” they discover online, could easily find themselves in hot water.
How it all boils down
The sophistication of laboratory equipment makes it increasingly difficult for drug users to falsify test results. That’s true no matter which drug testing method an employer chooses to use.
Simply put, when an excessive amount of liquid passes through the body, it throws off the urine’s pH levels. That’s determined by measuring the creatinine level. If it falls below normal—the sample is diluted.
The test is marked as “inconclusive.” Employers often choose to treat an inconclusive drug test the same as they treat a positive result. However, employers may make exceptions when the result is due to a diluted specimen.
Positive and negative
The difference can hold the employee’s job in the balance.
A negative dilute result means that no drugs were detected in the employee’s system. Even so, the sample indicated the creatinine level was too low. That makes it impossible to establish a negative drug test result with certainty.
Of course, a diluted sample doesn’t immediately indicate the employee was masking drug use.
They may suffer from shy bladder syndrome. If that’s the case, the only intent may have been to increase the odds that they would be able to provide a specimen at all! It’s also possible that they just weren’t aware it was possible to affect the test by drinking “too much.”
If you’re regulated by the DOT, a negative dilute requires a second—directly observed—test. Employers of the general workforce often require a second test as well. It depends on company policy. The employee may also be terminated immediately.
When an employer sees a positive dilute result, it indicates two things:
- The employee had drugs in their system.
- They more than likely tried to hide it.
Unless the employer allows for rehabilitation in their company policy, the employee is terminated immediately.
The coffee myths
There are a couple of myths floating around the internet in regard to coffee and passing a company drug test.
One of them is to simply mix Folgers—it must be Folgers, mind you—coffee with water. The instructions say to pour the mixture into a vial and to hide it on your person. Pour the mixture into the specimen cup and turn it in.
Another says that if you lay off all caffeinated beverages for a week and then drink specific amounts of coffee a certain number of days prior to the test, you’re guaranteed to pass.
Of course, either method offers about as much help in passing a urine drug test as any other drug testing myth.
Will they never learn?