Last updated: June 5, 2023
There are rumors floating around the company that a certain employee may have tampered with their drug test to achieve a false negative result on the random. There’s really nothing to do now other than have management keep an eye out and document any suspicion of drug use. The situation has raised a thought though. Short of a tell-tale look or odd behaviors that send up a red flag, is there some way to detect that an employee is cheating on a drug test?
The answer to that is, not really. There have been instances of employees being caught smuggling in a substitute urine specimen. These days, it’s most likely synthetic urine, but if someone has a friend or family member that doesn’t use drugs… Seriously. It’s not out of the question. Other than that, short of showing up for a hair test completely bald or sent to the emergency room for gargling bleach right before the mouth swab test, there really aren’t a lot of signs.
It’s tough to fly under the radar
Try as they might though, drug users who try and beat the test rarely get by with it. Advances in technology within the industry continue to evolve; while at the same time, laboratory equipment continues to grow more sophisticated. Add top-notch technicians to the mix and—well—the would-be cheaters are better off going to their employers and confessing they use drugs. Entering rehab voluntarily could behoove them. Their employer may grant them a leave of absence.
If they get busted cheating on a drug test, though, they’re going to lose their jobs.
The methods are “tried and true”
Drug testing has come a long way since the early days. Back then, urine drug testing was the only option employers had. Employees quickly discovered that drinking a gallon or so of liquid over the few hours prior to the drug test would dilute the urine causing a negative drug test result. However, that’s not the case any longer. Even so, that advice and other “never fail” methods are still out there floating around on the internet. Guess what? Drug users continue to give them a go.
Urine drug test
Most employers still use the urine test for their employee drug testing programs. These days, that’s most likely due to the fact that it’s the most cost-effective.
We mentioned above that employees still try to dilute their urine. The problem with that is that nowadays, creatinine levels are measured during the test. It determines whether or not a specimen is diluted. The tests are flagged as inconclusive and the employee must take the test again. Unless, of course, the result still shows a positive result drug-wise. Most company policies dictate immediate termination in that case.
We also told you the fact that employees try and substitute their own specimens with another person’s or synthetic urine. Synthetic urine is normally purchased in powder form and mixed with water. Its chemical makeup closely resembles human urine. However, a trained lab technician may detect an “off” color or the fact that there is not a bit of sediment in the specimen. Both these red-flag moments warrant further testing.
Some tamper with specimens by adding certain household chemicals, such as bleach or salt. Drug abusers may try and delay the test hoping to give their bodies time to clear out all signs of drug use too. Marijuana smokers would need to stall for up to three months if they smoked daily!
Hair and oral fluid tests
Other methods of drug testing, namely, hair follicle and oral fluid tests, are both very reliable methods but more expensive. However, they are both gaining in popularity.
In fact, the Department of Transportation (DOT) recently published a final ruling that included the approval of the oral fluid drug test. Employers are free to use it as an alternative to the urine test. Some trucking companies require their employees and pre-hires to submit to both the mandated DOT test and the hair follicle test, as well. They realize the value of being able to detect habitual use over the previous 90 days before the test.
Both methods are considered far less invasive than the urine test. The test subject is never out of the technician’s sight so there’s no hope of substituting a sample or tampering with the test in any way. As far as theories about mouthwashes, shampoos, and other detox products, they don’t work. As we stated before, it would be best to ‘fess up and seek help instead of cheating.
They’re determined to plot their own course
No matter how hard drug abusers try to hide their drug use, the truth has a way of coming out. It’s hard for people to admit that they have a drug problem though. Cheating on the drug test for whatever reason they’ve rationalized as justification is a cry for help in and of itself. Nobody plans to become a drug addict. However, what starts out as occasional use when out with friends can quickly turn into an addiction.
That’s partly due to a person’s genetic makeup, 50% of us are genetically predetermined to have addictive tendencies. However, the brain builds up a tolerance to lots of drugs which requires people to continually up the dosage to obtain the “buzz” they’re looking for. This, of course, increases their chances of overdosing on the drug too.
If you have an employee who thinks cheating on the drug test is going to keep everything copacetic in their world, odds are they will be found out the first time they try it. In the meantime, though, training management to recognize the signs of drug use, encouraging employees to come to you if they feel there’s a problem in the workplace, and continuing to promote a drug-free workplace is your best defense.