Urine Drug Testing BLOG

adulteration strips

People will go to extremes to disguise their drug use. Whether it's a potential job applicant, an existing employee, or a rehab inpatient, adulteration is a reality of using drug tests.

Thanks to advancements in clinical research, adulterated specimens can be instantly detected with easy-to-use adulteration strips. Some drug tests even provide built-in adulteration testing, so you never have to worry about being fooled by a cheater.

Needless to say, drug testing experts have also come up with measures to counter these cheating methods. Aside from having someone check the process of sample collection, analysts can detect the presence or absence of certain chemicals in the specimen that would indicate possible sample corruption.

 

What is Adulteration?

Adulteration is the tampering of a urine specimen with the intention of altering drug test results. The use of adulterants can cause false negative results in drug tests by either interfering with the screening test and/or destroying the drug metabolites present in urine.

Urine adulteration may be performed in many ways, such as the following:

  • Drinking excessive amounts of water before a urine drug test
  • Taking creatine supplements to trigger false positives via creatinine metabolite
  • Submitting “synthetic urine” from a foreign donor
  • Dilution using sink or toilet bowl water

What's the best way to pass a drug test?

There are no true ways to pass a drug test apart from practicing sobriety. A modern-day urine drug screen provides drug test adulteration detection by measuring urinary properties:

  • Creatinine
  • pH
  • Specific Gravity
  • Glutaraldehyde
  • Nitrites
  • Oxidants/Pyridinium Chlorochromate (PCC).

What is the normal pH of urine?

A normal urine pH level hovers around 6.0, which means urine samples should be slightly more acidic than water. Water is neutral at pH 7.0. A diluted urine sample can be identified when the urine pH level is measured close to neutral. Adulterating urine with acidic compounds, e.g. vinegar and lemon juice, or basic compounds, e.g. bleach and creatine will bring normal urine pH levels outside of the normal range.

How to read urine drug test temperature strips:

Ensure the temperature strip is black before administering a urine drug test. Once urine is deposited into the drug test cup, the black temperature strip will become a bluish green color. Normal urine temperature falls between 97 and 100 degrees. As a reference, 98.6 degrees is average body temperature. If urine specimen temperature is indicated outside of the normal urine temperature range, the drug test result should be Invalid. Many drug testing adulteration methods, e.g. using synthetic urine or swapping clean urine may not affect the temperature of urine specimens. Therefore, temperature should not be the only factor used to determine possible adulteration.

What are oxidants in urine?

When included in a drug test, oxidants/pyridinium chlorochromate (PCC) can detect the presence of adulterants, specifically bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Pyridinium chlorochromate (also sold as “UrineLuck”) is a commonly used adulterant; however, normal urine specimens should not contain any traces of PCC.

What is glutaraldehyde?

Glutaraldehyde tests for the presence of an aldehyde. Adulterants containing glutaraldehyde may cause false negative drug test results by disrupting the enzyme used in some immunoassay screens. Unadulterated urine specimens should not contain any traces of glutaraldehyde.

What is specific gravity?

Specific gravity tests for dilution for a urine specimen. The average specific gravity of urine specimens ranges from 1.003 to 1.030g/cm³. Values outside this range suggest sample adulteration by dilution with water or other liquid compounds.

How is nitrite measured for adulteration?

Nitrite tests for adulterants which work by oxidizing carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol, the body’s primary metabolite of marijuana. Normal urine specimens should not contain nitrate, and the presence of nitrates immediately flag the possibility of adulteration.

Is urine discoloration a sign of adulteration?

Urine excreted by a healthy, hydrated person is usually straw-like or a pale shade of yellow in color. However, it is possible for a person to have an abnormal color of urine. This change can, at times, be temporary.

There are several factors that can cause urine discoloration:

1. Food

Many people aren’t aware of this, but one’s food intake can often be the cause of urine discoloration.

  • Consuming large amounts of asparagus, for example, can cause it to be dark yellow, dark green or even blue.
  • Beets, berries and rhubarb can cause it to be a red or pink color.
  • Fava beans and aloe, on the other hand, can cause urine to appear brown or tea-colored.
  • Carrots and winter squash can cause it to turn orange. In fact, intake of excess carotene can even cause one’s hands and feet to appear orange.

Food and drinks that contain a dye or artificial coloring can also be the cause of abnormal urine colors. Children’s cereals often contain dye, which can cause discoloration.

2. Vitamin supplements

Vitamin supplements can also be the cause of abnormal urine color. Consuming excess vitamin B complex, for example, can cause one to excrete bright yellow or dark yellow urine. Excess vitamin C, on the other hand, can cause it to appear orange.

3. Medications

Several kinds of medication can also cause abnormal urine color. If one takes laxatives or excess amounts of B complex vitamins, he or she might excrete bright or dark yellow urine. Medications such as indomethacin, doxorubicin or amitriptyline can possibly cause one’s urine to turn blue or green. Taking Aldomet can even cause it to turn black.

4. Medical conditions or disease

When one’s urine appears cloudy or murky, it might indicate that the person has a bladder infection or urinary tract infection. Urine that is either clear or dark brown in color, on the other hand, may indicate a possible liver disorder such as cirrhosis or acute viral hepatitis. If one’s urine is a red or pink color, it might possibly be a sign of a urinary tract disorder such as kidney cancer, tuberculosis, enlarged prostate, cystitis or kidney stones.

Although drug test sample adulteration is possible, most of these compounds are colorless and may not even be detected by the human eye. Only through chemical analysis can the adulteration be confirmed.

Common Ways to Cheat a Urine Drug Test

Urine drug testing can be vulnerable to adulteration, but not as much as it used to be in the past. Common cheating techniques no longer apply when using modern-day drug tests.

To be able to detect possible adulteration, examiners need to be aware of these techniques too. Here are the most common adulteration techniques out there:

Excessive Hydration

Drinking heavy doses of water and frequent urinating still remains the most popular method of cheating urine drug tests. Cheaters usually use salt solutions to induce dehydration or flushing agents that augment urine outputs. The theory is that the more water you chug down, the more toxins in the urine you are able to let out. But some testing facilities are able to detect suspicious urine samples by checking the urine's composition.

Adulteration

Household materials may be used to mess up a urine test. A small dose of vinegar, soap detergent, bleach or salt can compromise the urine test by altering its composition and masking the illegal substances. Some chemical cocktails that promise to fool urine tests can be bought over the internet. It is important that before the urine test, that the people undergo a thorough search. Patients are only asked to empty their pockets and are frisked.

Switching Urine

Switching urine is a practice that is known to be the ultimate weakness of urine drug testing since there is no easy way of matching the urine with the user. Cheaters usually bring their foreign urine sample with them to the facility, keeping them as warm as possible. Samples whose temperature is below the average body temperature are deemed suspicious.

Diluting Urine

There are three known ways of diluting urine samples:

1. Excessive Hydration

Drinking liquid such as water is the most natural way of diluting specimen. Before a drug test is administered, the person who recently took amphetamine drinks at least one liter of water. This increases the urine production to 7.5 or 8.5 ml after 30 minutes post-consumption.

When a person drinks more and more water, the Creatinine level of the urine would start to tone down in as fast as one hour. When this happens, the gravity of the urine also decreases leading to a negative drug test result for amphetamines.

2. Dilution Tablets

With the availability of the internet, teenagers find it so easy to purchase products to dilute urine samples. Some diluents are taken orally in a form of tablets. Thus, before the day of urine drug testing, a person who has recently abused amphetamine drinks a couple of tablets to reduce the amphetamine metabolites in the body and excrete diluted specimen the next day. In this way, the person passes the drug test.

Drinking vitamin B complex after drinking diluents also turns urine sample into its proper color which makes it appear unaltered.

There are also some drugs that are administered intravenously to dilute urine samples. Some examples:

  • Pamridonate
  • Pancuronium
  • Pantoprazole
  • Penicillin
  • Pentobarbital

With this route of administration, the medicine goes through the blood vessels obliterating the drug metabolites in the body.

3. Adding Water to Samples

Most teenagers are so clever enough to directly add water to urine samples in order to lessen its density and dilute drug metabolites before handing the sample to the laboratory. However, test facilities are cleverer than others would think. This usual scheme of teenagers are usually the bases for putting some blue dye in drug testing toilets or the absence of facets in the toilet and the limitation of tap water usage.

Why Drug Test Cheating Doesn’t Work

While an array of cheating methods have been tried over the years, these methods rarely work. Here are five reasons why this is now the case.

1. Temperature Checks

Many of the most common cheating methods are so easy to detect that even the least experienced tester would be able to realize the subject was trying to pull a fast one. For example, many individuals try to fool the system by using fake samples. These may be supplied by other people, purchased on the Internet, or achieved through other means.

The problem with all of these samples is they are not the right temperature. Fresh urine is going to be at about body temperature. If the sample is less than that temperature, the testing agency is going to be suspicious. And trying to re-warm the urine to the appropriate temperature is nearly impossible.

2. Health Dangers

Some individuals try to manipulate the content of their own samples by drinking large quantities of water to dilute their urine or taking large doses of niacin to supposedly flush out their systems before the sample is taken. Both of these methods can be dangerous. So-called water loading has been the cause of death for at least one and potentially many other people. Overdosing on niacin can cause serious, life-threatening health effects. Fortunately, adulteration strips are now built into most urine drug test cups to provide more accurate results.

If you suddenly begin developing health problems associated with any of the methods of trying to cheat the drug test, you are as good as caught in the act. Plus, passing a drug test is rarely worth risking your life.

3. Easy Detection

One of the simplest forms of cheating drug tests is adding chemicals to the urine so the sample becomes unusable thus buying the individual some time to clean up his or her system in order to provide a fresh sample. However, these added chemicals are some of the easy to spot. Not only are the symptoms of the contamination easy to recognize visually, they can be checked by simply adding another chemical and watching for a set reaction.

If your sample has been tampered with, that’s as good as announcing you are guilty of taking drugs.

4. Improved Testing Methods

Because of the number of attempted cheating and tampering with drug testing, many organizations and employers who use these methods have changed their strategies. Instead of using the old-fashioned urine tests, they have adopted hair follicle testing. With this method, no cheating is possible and testing can detect drug use over a much longer span of time. If you’ve been suspected of cheating on past drug tests, don’t be surprised if this isn’t the next stop on the journey.

5. Greater Awareness

Finally, most cheating methods don’t work because they are so well known by the companies doing the testing and now by others. Parents, employers, even professional organizations such as the NFL have been informed about how drug test cheating is done. Their knowledge makes it almost impossible for you to get away with cheating on this test.

Why do people try to cheat their drug tests?

No one can argue about the fact that teens are smarter and more in-the-know these days. With the loads of information you get from the Internet, there really is no limit to what they could learn to be able to get what they want or to get out of a compromising situation.

Take the number of websites that advertise how to cheat on drug tests, for instance. There are so many of them around that it is not impossible for several drug-abusing teenagers to try these methods. The primary reason behind this is to evade the possibility of being caught taking drugs, some of which they have already become addicted to.

For instance, amphetamines are considered to be brain stimulants. They basically awake the person’s euphoria, create strength, as well as increased level of alertness and speed by binding to their receptors in the central nervous system.

Although they are prescribed by doctors to decrease symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, they are most commonly abused by teenagers whose age range from 12 to 17 years old for its addictive effects in the body. Amphetamines are not easily bought at pharmacies without doctors’ prescription but they can be smuggled and brought along the streets with its screen name known as “speed.”

Amphetamine works like cocaine except that it is thicker. Like cocaine, medication amphetamine can also cause positive drug test. Amphetamine drug testing does not create too much of a hassle for people who are taking it as a treatment for a certain disease, however; teenagers who are abusing the drugs perceives drug testing as a big threat.

This is when dilution becomes so popularly important to drug addicts. Dilution is the process of adding liquid to the specimen in order to obtain negative drug test result.

Drug Testing with Adulterants

A diluted specimen is not actually a guarantee that a person is already safe from any liabilities. In truth, when showing a dilute specimen, any person may be subject to the further test to justify the result. Sometimes, the drug test comes unannounced to prove precise drug test result in the patient.

When a specimen is diluted, drugs may not be detected in the body, but the truth is drug testing has its own criteria to know when the specimen is diluted. Using the amphetamine test kits, drug testing process for urine samples test for its gravity. When the Creatinine level is low, specifically, less than 20 g/dl and a specific gravity of less than 1.003 and greater than 1.001; it means that something has been added to lessen the drug metabolites in the sample.

This instance, in turn, makes the patient responsible for drug retesting which usually comes without prior notice. Drug testing can also be done using hair and saliva samples. With the amphetamine test kits, parents can administer drug test at home. While the drug testing result is reliable and confidential, there is nothing to worry about altered results.

In addition, other accurate drug testing methods are now readily available. The convenient collection of samples for the oral fluid drug test makes corruption of sample difficult while the very nature of the sample for the hair follicle drug test makes cheating virtually impossible.