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Let’s talk about adulteration in drug testing (also known as cheating).

It’s a commonly used concept to refer to three different types:

  • substitution — using someone else’s urine, synthetic urine, or a different substance altogether.
  • dilution — diluting the urine sample so the levels of drugs present drop below the cut-off level. The dilution can be in vivo (drinking excessive amounts of water) or in vitro (adding water to the urine).
  • addition — adding substances to the urine sample to prevent the drugs from being detected.

The way to prevent substitution is through your drug testing procedures: check the person isn’t carrying any containers or bags of liquid, ask the person to pat themselves down and to take off any heavy jackets or clothing items that can hide containers, and make it difficult for a liquid to be transferred if a container is smuggled through.

To catch dilution, the urine sample needs to be analysed to see if it matches the characteristics of a normal urine sample. In addition, the environment should be prepared to make it impossible to dilute a sample: drop a blueing tablet in the toilet cistern to prevent water being scooped into the cup, tape up any taps inside the room, tape windows closed to prevent water being passed in from outside.

To catch addition, the process is similar for dilution. The urine sample needs to be inspected and analysed to see if it matches the characteristics of a normal urine, and your drug testing procedures need to make adulteration difficult to achieve. Get the person to wash their hands before testing to remove any substance on their hands/under their fingernails, and stay alert for any signs adulteration is being use

Urine testing cups have an adulteration panel. They will test for a combination of the following adulterant indicators (a good cup will have most or all):

  1. Creatinine (required by the AS/NZS 4308 standard)
  2. pH
  3. Oxidants (may be named Bleach)
  4. Nitrites
  5. Specific Gravity
  6. Glutaraldehyde
  7. Pyridinium Chlorochromate

Stay tuned to our email newsletter, we will cover the meaning of each adulterant indicator, what substances are used to cheat, and procedures for detecting and preventing substitution and dilution.