Dispelling 5 Myths About Drug Testing
Whether you are an experienced truck driver, starting in the field, or are in another safety-sensitive role, you must pass a drug test semi-regularly. If it’s company-mandated, it’s to maintain a safe work environment. However, the DOT also requires testing to ensure a safe work environment for your own and the public’s safety. Reducing substance use leads to significantly fewer avoidable accidents. Many misconceptions are circulating about how you can pass or fail a drug test, so let’s break them down:
1. Overhydrating Will Make You Pass a Urine Drug Test
While staying hydrated is never a bad idea, it won’t erase the drug in your urine. Yes, drinking lots of water or other fluids will make it harder to detect the substance, but it also changes creatinine levels in your urine. You eliminate this waste product through your urine, so urine analyzers are trained to check this level. If they see that your creatinine results are off, they will rerun the sample through more stringent testing. The extra fluid will only dilute the numbers. If you have drugs in your system, they can detect them no matter how much water you consume.
2. Working Out Before Your Test Will Help You Pass
Again, maintaining a healthy diet, hydrating, and exercising are good practices. But they won’t help you rid your system of drugs in less time. They may help you clear everything slightly faster if you stick with it for a month or more before the test. But hitting the gym or sauna to sweat out whatever you’ve got in your system will make little difference in altering your results.
3. Second-Hand Marijuana Smoke Can Cause a Positive THC Result
Getting a false positive from passive exposure to THC is nearly impossible. With the legalization of marijuana, the rise in dispensaries, and higher concentrations of THC, this study reexamined if it was possible. They did find several false positives among non-smokers with several caveats: the non-smoker needed to be close to the source in an unventilated room and drug tested within a few hours of exposure.
So what does this mean? Even if you’ve been around marijuana smoke within a few days of your test, your levels will be well below the cutoff threshold. The threshold is high enough to differentiate genuine use from passive exposure. Just don’t let your friend hotbox on the way to your drug test, and you should be in the clear.
However, eating poppy seeds can give you a false positive. While poppy seed muffins or bagels are not that common anymore, they can lead to a false positive for opioids, specifically morphine. You typically cannot use a poppyseed muffin as an excuse for a positive test result, so you should steer clear of poppyseeds in the few days before your drug test.
4. Drugs Stay in Your System for the Same Amount of Time
There is no exact amount of time drugs stay in your system. Each drug has an approximate guideline for the time it takes to get out of your system. However, your substance clearance rate depends on drug concentration or strength, the amount you have consumed, your biological makeup, and your physical health.
For example, your liver’s ability to detoxify your blood and your kidney’s ability to clear toxins will impact how quickly you get rid of certain substances. A one-time ingestion will likely clear within the estimated window. However, for someone that’s been consuming that same substance daily for an extended period it may take longer.
5. Eating or Drinking Special Products Will Help You Pass
You may have heard myths about ways to improve your test results, including drinking pickle juice or vinegar, sucking on a copper penny, and taking large doses of vitamin B3. Perhaps, you’ve heard that taking creatine will help your creatinine levels look normal when overhydrating continues to circulate. Another is that adding bleach, ammonia, or Drano to your sample will help. There are even over-the-counter kits that supposedly mask drugs in your urine. The bottom line is that none of these will work.
These methods may have had some truth to them many years ago. But laboratories today will automatically detect substances that don’t belong. Tampering with your sample or putting your health at risk by taking ill-advised doses of vitamins or supplements won’t be worth it. You will either be caught immediately or asked to return once they get a closer look at your sample.
And finally, you may have heard from a buddy or through the gossip mill that a drug testing facility overlooks specific illicit results. However, your friend or informant has misled you. The individual that started the rumor most likely just didn’t reach the threshold to have a positive result. The DOT requires specific methods and strict record keeping, so the collectors won’t overlook anything once they have completed their DOT drug testing training. You are better off just searching “drug screening near me” and selecting the closest testing center instead of wasting time and fuel to find a unicorn.
If you are concerned about passing your drug tests, put your energy into going clean for an appropriate amount of time before submitting a sample and taking care of yourself instead of wasting your energy trying to beat the system. The DOT’s testing standards are to keep you and those around you safe, and their testing facilities have seen it all before.