Specimen Validity Testing

Can you really "beat" a drug test?
"Beating the drug test" is a game that is played with increasing ingenuity as drug testing becomes more prevalent in people's daily lives.  There are numerous web sites solely devoted to providing information and products to help drug users pass the substance use screening tests.  Some unions, civil right organizations, and even employers provide information to "prepare" their members and prospective employees for drug testing.  Much of the advice and many of the products sold to beat the drug testing process are invalid, however, some of the products and tricks are extremely effective.  The products designed to beat drug test fall into three general classes:

Detox/Purifying Agents: These are usually liquid beverages that claim to magically speed up the body's elimination of drug metabolites or change the structure of the drug metabolites into a configuration the testing assay won't recognize.  In reality, these products do nothing of the sort; they do however instruct the donor to consume large volumes of fluid in addition to the product itself.  The consumption of all of these fluids can dilute drug metabolite levels in the urine and sometimes helps occasional drug users to beat the test.  Measuring physiological markers of urine dilution (creatinine, specific gravity) and limiting the amount of time a donor has to "prepare" for a drug test are the best ways to render these products ineffective.

Additives: There are a number of substance that when directly added to urine will interfere with the testing process.  High acidic or basic substances, nitrates, glutaraldehyde, bleach, peroxides, salts, gelatins, surfactant and long list of other commercially available and household products are included in this list. Oftentimes, the addition of these substances to urine can be detected based on subjective examination of the sample.  Many of the commercially available urine additives don't significantly alter the urine sample's physical characteristics.   Testing for specific adulterants helps to detect these products, however, the best way to deter this kind of adulteration is through good sample collection procedures.  Direct observation of the donor eliminates the possibility of addition of an interfering substance to the sample by the donor.

Substituted/Synthetic Urine:  When performed correctly, giving a substitute urine sample is a very effective way of beating the drug test.  Several websites provide detailed instructions on how to pass a drug test using a substituted urine sample.  There are a number of manufacturers who sell synthetic urine and a heating device to make sure that the urine sample presented is the correct temperature.   As long as the synthetic urine has valid physiological characteristics (creatinine, pH, and specific gravity) and the donor can get it by the collector, its use will go undetected.  Good specimen collection technique and vigilance with regards to sample temperature monitoring can help reduce the effectiveness.  This type of adulteration sometimes fails because the donor can't keep the specimen at an acceptable temperature.  Direct observation of the sample collection is the only way to eliminate this type of sample adulteration.

What Does Options Lab do to detect adulteration?
Constant vigilence, staying up-to-date on current trends with sample adulteration, and implementation of appropriate safeguards and testing methods are ways that Options Lab, Inc helps to minimze the ability to thwart our testing process.  The best way to stop adulteration is through good specimen collection techniques and in situations where it is practical, direct observation of the donor providing the urine specimen (see Urine Collection for details).  At our testing facility, Options Lab assesses the possibility of specimen adulteration (when appropriate) by observing the following specific indicators of specimen quality:

Creatinine: Creatinine is a metabolic by-product of muscle metabolism which is excreted into the urine by the kidneys at a relatively stable rate.  Measurement of creatinine gives an indication of the patient's state of hydration.  Normal values for creatinine fall between 50-350 mg/dL.   Creatinine values less than 20 mg/dL are considered dilute. Creatinine values less than 2 mg/dL are not physiologically possible and are a strong indication that an alternate subtance was provided (colored water, synthetic urine, Mountain Dew)

pH: measurement of the specimen's acidity or alkalinity.  Our tests require a urine specimen to have a pH between 4.5 and 9.  Samples with a pH outside of that range are considered invalid for testing and may have been adulterated.

Physical Inspection: Visual and olfactory observations are made on each specimen to detect the presence of adulterating or interfering agents.  Samples with unusual physical characteristics (excessive foaming, excessive blood, unusal color) and smell (bleach, fragrance) are either rejected for testing or subject to more comprehensive adulterant testing.