Drug Test Cheating Is Widespread
Your employees know about drug test cheating. Do you? If your collection site is not letting you know that they are detecting drug test cheating, then you are losing the battle. Why? Because the labs can’t catch most drug test cheating. Instead, the onus falls on the shoulders of your collection site.
Drug test cheating has become both commonplace and effective. Basically, there are three ways to cheat on a drug test.
Adulteration is one method of drug test cheating. It occurs when a donor introduces a foreign substance into his or her urine sample. Most often, the substance used is an oxidant like NaOCL. Also known as sodium hypochloride, or common household bleach. The oxidant masks the presence of the drug metabolites for which we test. This tactic can be effective with instant urine testing if collectors are not well-trained. But, not so with SAMSHA lab testing which checks for the presence of oxidants. Well-trained collectors can be effective in detecting oxidants for either instant or lab-based testing.
The second tactic for drug test cheating is dilution. As the name implies, the donor over-hydrates by consuming excessive amounts of water. This dilutes their urine to the point that drug test metabolites cannot be detected. This is a dangerous choice for drug test cheating. That’s because over-hydration can cause hyponatremia. Which, in turn, can cause seizures, organ failure, and even death. Well-trained collectors can detect dilute samples. The labs can confirm dilution by measuring specific gravity and the creatinine level of the sample.
By far the most common drug test cheating tactic we see is substitution. We catch about 10% of donors cheating this way every day. Cheaters can purchase perfectly-balanced synthetic urine online or from local smoke shops. Also, they purchase heat packs to maintain the correct sample temperature. Unfortunately, SAMSHA labs like Quest and LabCorp are unable to detect synthetic urine, so they let it pass. Having well-trained collectors is tour only defense.
Here’s one alarming result of wide-spread drug test cheating. While studies show drug abuse is increasing, the USDOT thinks it is decreasing. That’s because positive tests reported by SAMSHA labs declined. So, they lowered the random sample rate from 50% to 25% for 2016. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/enforcement/annual-random-controlled-substances-testing-percentage-rate-calendar-year That means this year only half as many truck drivers, airline pilots, train engineers and bus drivers will be random tested for drugs as last year. Pretty scary.
How is that? All USDOT drug test samples must be tested by a SAMSHA lab like Quest or LabCorp. The labs are unable to detect the synthetic urine often used for cheating. That’s because synthetic urine is balanced for creatinine, specific gravity, and pH. So the USDOT mistakenly thinks drug abuse is declining because the percentage of positive test results declined. When in fact, the decline is a result of cheaters’ successful use of synthetic urine.
If your collector doesn’t know how to detect synthetic urine (and most do not), s/he will send your driver’s sample to the SAMSHA lab. And the lab will pass it as negative!
What To Do
Get smart about drug test cheating. Learn how it is done and how it can be caught. If your drug testing administrator (TPA, DER, Local Drug Test Vendor) is not catching cheaters on a regular basis, you better ask yourself (and them) why not.
If you need help with your Drug Free Workplace program, contact us for a consultation.