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Is It Possible To Cheat A Drug Test?

Published on: June 7, 2017

Written by: Janet Russell.

Drug addiction remains to be a menace to society. World governments are spending large amounts of money for treatment and rehabilitation of people who engage in drug abuse. Despite strong efforts to prevent further damage, some users refuse to have themselves treated, and instead attempt to cheat a drug test to get away with their vices.

Worse, some individuals continue to find ways on how they can get hold of illicit drugs in order to sustain their addiction. This is the reason behind the rise in the number of clandestine laboratories in the U.S., making it even harder to stop the spread and abuse of these drugs.

One strategy that drug manufacturers use is to assign several street names to a certain type of drug to deceive authorities. You may have noticed that some illicit substances have quite a long list of street names, in the hope of further disguising the substance and continuously deceive non-users and authorities alike.

Most Common Drugs Abused

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) annually monitors drug, alcohol and tobacco use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders.  It is through this survey that we are informed about pertinent information regarding the prevalence of drug use among these grade levels and the most popular illicit drugs that these young individuals use.

Here are some of the most common substances abused by the young generation:


marijuana legalization disadvantages

Consistently at the top of the most common illicit substances used among teens and older adults, marijuana continues to be the drug of choice since it is cheaper than other drugs. Its popularity is gradually rising, despite its ill effects.

Marijuana has the ability to impair memory and learning, affect the ability to focus, and lose coordination. Moreover, using marijuana can also possibly harm the lungs, cause palpitations, and increase the risk of developing psychosis.

Since marijuana is a mind-altering drug, it can be extremely dangerous to let a person operate any vehicle or machinery due to the inability to come up with proper judgment. Furthermore, early and prolonged use of this substance in massive doses among teens can greatly affect their ability to comprehend lessons taught in school. Therefore, most heavy marijuana teen users are likely to drop out from school.

Statistics of Marijuana Use

Much to the dismay of individuals who are against the legalization of marijuana, there are only a few more states that have not passed the legalization of cannabis. Expansion of the market for marijuana has generated both positive and negative reactions from the general public. The sales of marijuana reached $6.7 billion in 2016, a 30-percent increase from the previous year.

Here are some other figures and statistics on the use of marijuana:

  • An estimated 94 million Americans have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime.
  • A large percentage of crime-related arrests are associated with marijuana use.
  • Among individuals aged 26 and older who have used marijuana, a large percentage went on to use more potent drugs such as cocaine, heroin and non-medical use of mind-altering drugs.
  • Marijuana is the second leading cause of vehicular accidents, next to alcohol use.

Prescription drugs / over-the-counter painkillers

prescription drug abuse

These drugs are perceived to be harmless substances until they are gradually being abused to the point that users become unaware that they have succumbed to some form of addiction. Nevertheless, despite the symptoms that they experience when taking the drugs, substance abuse has become their way of living – an obscure kind of life in their own small world.

Ordinarily, these drugs have been developed to hopefully provide relief to certain medical conditions. However, due to irresponsible use of the patients themselves, some have become victims of drug addiction. What could make it worse is knowing that some of the prescription drugs are stolen by other individuals to either sell to their friends for a profit or use them together.

The commonly abused prescription drugs include stimulants, depressants, and opioid pain killers. Among over-the-counter drugs are medicines containing dextromethorphan in the form of syrups, soft gel capsules, and tablets.

Synthetic Marijuana (Spice or K2)

spice synthetic marijuana

Spice or K2 is a mixture of herbal substances that mimic the effects of marijuana but are actually sprayed with synthetic cannabinoid substance. This is most often the second drug of choice among teens since it can provide almost the same effect as marijuana but in a much lower price. This became popular around the middle of the last decade, and is typically labeled as “not for human consumption”.

Users experience paranoia, anxiety, hallucination which can even lead to death. Currently, it is categorized under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.

Among its street names include the following:

  • Green giant
  • Genie
  • Zohai
  • Yucatan Fire

Anabolic Steroids

injectable steroids

This refers to the synthetic variants of the male sex hormone, which are often used for muscle building. Steroids are normally prescribed to treat certain medical conditions, but it is also one of the very commonly abused substances used for increasing muscle mass and improve athletic performance.

The world was shocked when doping scandals of active runners have put them among the hall of shame. These included Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson, and Marion Jones, to name a few.


methamphetamine crystal meth

These synthetic substances produce a sense of an unusual “high” as described by users. This has long-term effects on the overall well-being of an individual, which include increased body temperature, rapid heartbeat, seizures and even death. Abuse of this type of drug can severely affect the individual’s ability of the brain to function normally.

Importance of Drug Testing

Drug testing laws differ from different states. The implementation of drug testing among private companies depends on the discretion of the company itself. However, knowing the positive impact that drug testing can do to prevent workplace accidents and other possible consequences, a lot of companies have started implementing pre-employment drug testing to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Some industries are required by federal law to conduct pre-employment and random drug testing. These industries include aviation, mining, construction, food industry, and transportation.

Performing a drug test can greatly affect a company in positive ways such as:

  • Increased productivity
  • Decrease in the number of absences
  • Improved morale among employees
  • Safe place to work
  • Helps employees with drug problems
  • Less employee turnover
  • Helps boost the company’s reputation

Cheating A Drug Test

Drug users may experience difficulty in finding a job. Accordingly, a large number of individuals from the workforce are drug users, according to a 2015 SAMHSA report. The need to use illicit drugs in order to help them become more creative or endure long hours of works is not an acceptable excuse to tolerate such activity. Therefore, it is through their desire to remain employed that they turn to cheating drug tests.

Cheating by way of adulterating or tampering with the urine specimen has become one of the most common schemes of cheating among drug users. In the past, drug users may have successfully been able to pass these tests undetected. However, with the advancement of drug testing technology, it has become extremely difficult to cheat a drug test.

urine sample workplace drug test

Some of the ways on how some users cheat a drug test include the following:

Substituting urine

To pull this off, the user may need a very quick hand to substitute his own urine with a sample from a non-user.

Sending someone else

Clever users may think of hiring someone to stand on their behalf without the knowledge of lab administrators. This may be possible if the laboratory personnel are too lenient in identifying the individuals who are subjected to drug testing.

Using Household Chemicals

A number of household chemicals have the ability to alter the pH level of a urine sample, which users think is their gate pass in finally getting a negative drug test. However, laboratory personnel can already detect any alteration of the urine composition not only because of the change in pH, but the change in color and possibly of smell.


Taking large amounts of water may cause a person to urinate frequently, making it possible to dilute the concentration of any kind of drugs in the body.  However, massive amounts of water intake can alter the natural color of the urine, which can be easily detected.

Some users would take Vitamin B tablets to add color back to the urine, but the user cannot really control the characteristics of the urine that they are dispensing.

Taking An Ordinary Pain Reliever

This one is a surprising way of cheating a drug test. Apparently, some users use Midol, a paracetamol and a diuretic, which makes a person urinate more often and dilute urine.

Drinking Vinegar

Others have tried this method, but this does not provide 100% assurance that you can get through a drug test without the lab administrators getting suspicious. Taking vinegar can lower the pH of urine, but it can easily be detected. As a result, it can be identified as a tampered specimen.

Masking Substances

There are loads of substances sold online that are marketed as the best masking agents for drugs in a urine sample. Some of these products are labeled as “urine cleaners,” which when added to the urine can dilute the specimen.

However, this is unlikely to pass the keen eyes of lab administrators, especially with the development of confirmatory tests to check for sample adulteration.

Detox drinks

You may find some detox drinks that are touted as masking agents to help cheat any drug test. However, the effect does not last long. Apart from it being not 100% accurate in providing a negative drug test result, these products are sold at a high price.

Right Timing

The only way that a person can be almost certain to pass any drug test is by having the drug test a few days – or even weeks – after the last drug intake. There are specific drug detection times for each type of drugs, which users should be aware of to ensure that their drug test will turn negative.

Unfortunately for drug users, most of the drug tests in the workplace are conducted at random and unannounced dates. Because of this, it might be difficult to predict when the next drug test will occur.

Final Word

Adulterated samples often present other substances that are not commonly found in urine. This makes it easier for lab administrators to determine if a urine sample is pure or adulterated. For instance, it is easier now to identify nitrites, which are commonly found from masking agents.

Once the laboratory has determined the presence of a masking agent or substance, they make further testing to take out the masking substance from the urine and then identify the drug metabolites remaining.

While these forms of cheating have deceived a few laboratories in the past, the technology in drug testing has evolved significantly. Aside from it being difficult to pull off, cheating a drug test is against the law. Anyone caught cheating a drug test or tampering a urine specimen may be subjected to felony charges, which may involve a hefty fine.