What do people use to adulterate a drug test?

People can adulterate a sample in a variety of ways and as a tester, it pays to be aware of what substances and methods are used in adulteration!

  • Water – Water is a very common adulterant used to dilute the level of drugs present in a urine sample. Dilution can be done by scooping or pouring water into the drug cup, or simply drinking excessive amounts of water before providing a sample.
  • Bleach – Bleach can be added to the sample to interfere with the detection of drugs and cause false results. This is often smuggled in under the fingernails, but can be stopped by asking the donor to thoroughly wash their hands with warm soapy water before providing a sample.
  • Salt – This can be added to make a sample more concentrated in the hope of covering any presence of drugs.
  • CreatinineAll cups verified to the standard will test for creatinine levels. If you see a low level of creatinine, the sample is likely to have been diluted. A high level of creatinine can mean synthetic creatinine has been added to the sample to mask the drugs present.
  • Synthetic Urine – This can be used instead of the donor providing a sample. Synthetic urine can be hard to detect once it has been provided as a sample, but is often easily found on the donor prior to a test.

This is only a few of the most common methods of adulteration – there is plenty more!

Tip: Get the donor to wash their hands before a drug test

Bleach, Drano powder, and pool cleaning chemicals are all oxidants and can be used to adulterate a drug test.

After you have asked the person to:

  • remove shoes and outer clothing, and
  • pat themselves down

… get them to wash their hands as well with soap and water, taking care that they wash under the fingernails.

This will prevent any chemicals being smuggled in and dropped into the drug test.

How long should drug test results be kept for?

Following the provisions of the Privacy Act generally means that you get rid of information as soon as you no longer need it. However, this is overruled by other forms of legislation which require records to be kept for longer.

Regarding drug testing, there is nothing explicitly spelt out in any standard or legislation.

Here’s how it’s handled for other forms of testing:

  • The National Pathology Accreditation Advisory Council (Australia) recommends 7 years, for laboratory reports
  • The Health (Retention of Health Informaion) Regulations 1996 specifies that healthcare providers keep patient records for a minimum of 10 years from when they last provided services to that patient
  • The Health and Safety at Work 2016 Act has a section regarding storage of health monitoring records. This specifies at least 30 years after the record is made, if the testing is non-asbestos-related. If it involves testing for asbestos-related diseases, 40 years.

It’s possible that if you conduct drug testing, you’d be considered a provider under the Health (Retention of Health Information) Regulations 1996.

4 Definition of provider
…(k) any other person who provides, or holds himself or herself or itself out as providing, services to the public or to any section of the public, whether or not any charge is made for those services.

How long you should keep drug test results ultimately comes down to what you say in your company policy.
To be safe, you should keep them a minimum of 10 years. If you’re carrying out health monitoring also, keep the drug test results for 30 – 40 years!

Drug testing, like police roadside alcohol testing

If you carry out random drug testing on 5% of your team each month (60% yearly), you will:

  1. catch out people who are impaired at work
  2. create a culture of awareness where people don’t come to work impaired

The second reason is the biggest benefit of drug testing.

It’s similar to police carrying out roadside alcohol testing.
The possibility that there might be a checkpoint on the road tonight encourages people to plan ahead so they don’t drive drunk.

The possibility that there might be a random drug test tomorrow encourages people to avoid taking drugs which will impair them at work.

Like police checkpoints, drug testing needs to be:

  • Regular (there’s a possibility that testing will be happening)
  • Unpredictable (but I can’t predict with certainty whether they’ll be there, best to play it safe)
  • Consequential (if I get caught out, I could lose my job… it’s not worth it)
  • Ongoing (I’ve got away with it so far, but testing keeps happening and I know I’ll get caught out at some point)

Medix Pro-Split vs. Sure Step

The Medix pro-split drug cup and the Sure Step drug cup are very identical. They look the same, are used in the same way, cost the same, and are made by the same people.

The only difference is the Medix cup has one less test strip than the Sure Step. This means the Medix is more likely to run a consistent test, as there is more urine available per strip!

Watch this short video below to learn more:

Selecting people for random drug testing

Random drug testing is carried out on a random selection of the team.

The intention of random testing is awareness: to ensure people think “It’s work tomorrow and I could be tested” so they make choices that will keep them and others safe at work.

We encourage customers to ensure their random testing is actually random.
It’s fairly common to carry out “random” testing which happens to include someone you are suspicious of.
If you are suspicious of them, it’s for a reason! Have a discussion with them, test them under a reasonable cause provision, and take action on a confirmed positive drug test – or have a further discussion about what else might be wrong if you get a negative drug test.

Actually-random testing often means picking up problems that you aren’t aware of, before it escalates.