Reference Services IncDrug abuse in the workplace can place employees at risk, decrease employee productivity and, in turn, lead to lower profits. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, approximately 70% of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are working. The most commonly abused drug is marijuana, followed by cocaine, and prescription drugs.

Most organizations have implemented drug screening policies in an attempt to reduce the chances of hiring an applicant who is using drugs.  However, employees continue to find new ways to cheat and alter the results.  Here are some of the methods used by employees to cheat on a drug test.

  • Diluted specimen-this is typically done by drinking large amounts of water prior to the test, or by adding water directly to the urine. A diluted specimen will generally be detected by the testing facility resulting in a ‘diluted specimen’.  This could alert the employer to re-test since there wasn’t a conclusive result.
  • Substitution-some people will substitute their urine with synthetic urine or urine from someone else (even an animal) in an attempt to cheat on a drug test. In order to keep this specimen at the correct temperature, it is kept close to their bodies or by using a warming device.
  • Additives-placing a chemical substance in the sample such as bleach, salt, soap, eye drops, or peroxide is done in an effort to hide the presence of drugs or throw off the testing equipment. However, most clinics/labs have methods of detecting these invalid specimens.
  • Delay Test-trying to put off the test as long as possible so the drugs will no longer be in their system is a common way to try to pass a test. The length of time a drug will be detectable in the urine depends on many factors such as the type of drug, body weight, and metabolism.
  • Detox Methods-ingesting commercial products or certain foods before taking the drug test can sometimes alter the results. There are many home remedies such as certain herbs, teas and diuretic liquids like cranberry juice and apple cider vinegar.  There are also products available to purchase that claim to ‘flush the system’ resulting in a negative drug screen.  Some are Test-Pass, Instant Clean, and the Ultimate Gold Detox Drink.


Reference Services, Inc works with many companies to implement and execute proper drug screening procedures. There are procedures that can be implemented to reduce the instances of altering or cheating on a drug test.  Some of them are listed here:

  • Not allowing employees into the bathroom with coats or bags, which can be used to conceal additives.
  • Dying the bathroom water blue so it can not to be used to dilute urine and/or turning off the water supply in the testing room.
  • Removing soaps and cleaners from the bathroom so they may not be used as additives.
  • Ensuring employees thoroughly wash his/her hands before entering the bathroom.
  • Limiting the time, usually 3 minutes, in which employees must provide the urine sample.

A quick internet search on ‘how to pass a drug test’ produces thousands of results which indicates that employees will go to great lengths to ensure they pass their drug test.  As employers increase their knowledge and understanding of drug screening methods and procedures, false results will decrease, hence ensuring a safer work environment.

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