Last updated: January 30, 2023
When receiving a positive dilute drug test result, it doesn’t only mean the specimen was diluted.
The test indicates two things.
- Someone tested positive for drugs.
- They more than likely tried to hide it.
When a drug test result indicates a negative dilute, it can still be cause for concern.
The laboratory can determine if a test sample has been tampered with in an attempt to mask drug use. Two common methods attempted by employees desperate to keep their jobs are adding adulterants or drinking excessive amounts of fluid.
It’s “common knowledge” in the drug culture that you can flush your system of drug metabolites long enough to take a urine test. The word on the street—and all over the web—is that if you consume lots of water or other liquids before you head to the test site, you should pass with flying colors.
Back in the early days of drug testing, that may have been the case—but not anymore.
People used to be able to “get over” on a drug test by adding adulterants or downing lots of water just prior to a drug test. However, technology has come a long way since the 80s.
Creatinine is the key
Creatinine is the byproduct of creatine phosphate. Created by muscle contractions, it leaves the body through the blood and kidneys. It is a constant process.
Normal creatinine levels determine the specimen is pure urine—if urine can be described as pure, that is.
Laboratories use creatinine to determine if a urine sample is diluted. Excessive amounts of fluids in the urine sample provided for testing, cause creatinine levels outside of the normal range. That is to say, the creatinine levels are equal to or greater than 2 mg/dL, but less than 20 mg/dL. The specific gravity levels of the urine sample are greater than 1.0010 and less than 1.0030.
The urine of a normally hydrated person never reaches creatinine levels in that range. Samples that contain these levels are identified as being diluted.
Negative dilute drug test result
If creatinine levels are out of the normal range, but there are no drugs found in the test sample the final test result is a negative dilute.
Employees receiving this result often breathe a sigh of relief but these results only serve to raise a red flag for employers. A diluted test result may have been an attempt to mask drug use. Employers with drug-free policies in place should have procedures in place that address this situation. They will follow company protocol which usually entails retesting the employee as soon as possible.
DOT-regulated employers require a second—observed—test.
It could be that someone suffering from shy bladder syndrome drank an excessive amount of liquid prior to a drug test. Shy bladder syndrome makes it extremely difficult for people to urinate in a public setting. If that is the case, a doctor’s statement would clear up any question. Even so, many employers require a second drug test.
Positive dilute drug test result
If testing detects drugs accompanied by creatinine levels out of the normal range, a positive dilute results.
As mentioned previously, a positive dilute drug test indicates that the employee recently used drugs and in all likelihood attempted to hide it.
Employers follow the drug-free protocol in place for positive test results. It would be a rare case if the employee is not terminated immediately.
Nowhere to hide
Employees that use drugs realize the gravity of a positive drug test result. If they didn’t, there would not be such a variety of methods available to falsify results.
There are detox products galore on the market. They profess to cleanse the body of drug metabolites in the urine, saliva, or hair. These products are available for purchase with the click of a mouse. They come straight to your door. Expense is of little concern considering the benefit of the negative drug test result.
Consumers should look closely for the “exception” clause. There is always an out in the literature so the company can avoid getting sued when the product doesn’t work. Verbiage stressing that “if steps aren’t followed exactly” makes the consumer accept responsibility for a positive test result.
The same can be said of home methods—they don’t work.
A myriad of “pass the test” information exists, such as drinking pickle juice to beat a urine test or washing your hair with a special concoction to cleanse metabolites from the hair. It is amazing—horrifying at times, actually—what desperate people will do.
Whether the falsified result was a positive dilute result or not, a positive test result that has been tampered with in any form is serious. Most employers would call for immediate termination—no questions asked.
That’s understandable because drugs in the workplace are a major safety issue.
The main reason employers drug test is to deter drug use in the workplace. Employees who use drugs are a hazard to themselves and others. They’re at increased risk of being in or causing an accident—so is everyone working around them.
Employers have every right to test workers for drug use in the case of an injury or accident.
Drug use also affects a company’s productivity and revenue. Employees that use drugs are less productive, absent more often, and file more worker’s comp claims.
The straight dope
Drugs are everywhere and affect everyone to one degree or another.
If an employee tests positive for drug use, it’s essential that you follow your company policy to the letter. Employers put drug-free or zero-tolerance policies in place to deter drug use. Making exceptions to the rule does nothing to create a safe work environment. In fact, it opens the door for future HR lawsuits when word gets out.
Do all you can to help your employee find resources for rehabilitation because, ultimately, it could save their life.
When someone is ready to admit they have a problem, they’ve taken the first small step toward seeking help.
Is a positive dilute drug test result going to be a game-changer in the life of a drug user? Let’s hope so. Losing your job because you failed in your attempt to “flush” drugs from your body is a pretty loud wake-up call.