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Debunking the Top Drug Testing Myths

Posted 5/30/2017 by UHBlog

Interested in starting a random drug testing program at your workplace or looking for a new provider? We can help.

Debunking the Top Drug Testing Myths

Substance abuse is a major national problem that is also a major issue for employers. Drugs harm not only the health of the individuals using them but also the health of your workplace. Problems related to alcohol and drug abuse cost American businesses $81 billion in lost productivity per year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Government studies also show that drug abusers are absent or late more often, have poor work performance, file more workers’ compensation claims and cost companies 300 percent more in medical costs. They can also cause serious harm to their fellow co-workers.

Many companies have instituted drug testing for pre-employment screenings, random checks and post-injury evaluations to prevent drug-related problems and create a safe environment for their employees. A poll by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that 57 percent of employers conduct drug testing with job candidates.

While it’s evident that a majority of employers value drug testing, others are concerned about its effectiveness or that drug users will find ways to pass. There are tons of websites and products that tout they have the magic recipe for scamming drug tests, creating misconceptions and misunderstandings about the process. Here, we’re breaking down the most prevalent myths and giving you the truth about drug testing.

Myth: Heavy exercise and drinking lots of water will help you pass a drug test

While heavy exercise one month prior to a drug test could slightly alter results, a quick trip to the gym the morning of a surprise drug test should not impact an employee’s odds of passing. Similarly, drinking a lot of water before a drug test may dilute urine, making it more difficult to detect the drug, but it can also send a warning to the testing facility.

Myth: All drugs stay in your system for the same amount of time

Every drug has a unique chemical composition, and drug users ingest different amounts over different lengths of time. Additionally, every person has a different biological and physical makeup, which impacts how quickly or slowly a drug metabolizes in the system.

“Urine drug tests are affordable compared to other tests, and they are also extremely accurate,” says Vivian Smith, Occupational Health Services Coordinator at University Hospitals. “Drugs remain in urine longer than saliva, and other options for testing, such as hair testing, can take much longer to produce results. Urine drug screens can test for up to 10 drugs at a time and provide quick results – generally within 72 hours.”

Myth: Eating poppy seeds will produce a false positive test

Poppy seeds come from the same plant as opium, but the seeds themselves don’t contain opium – they’re just coated in the milky substance. Generally, the seeds are washed prior to food processing, which helps get rid of the opium before the seeds are placed onto baked goods such as bagels, muffins and cakes. However, if they go unwashed, poppy seeds can contain some opium residue. According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, this can cause morphine and codeine to be detected in the urine sample up to 48 hours after ingestion.

“You would have to eat a lot of unwashed poppy seeds to test positively for opioids,” says Smith. “If opioids show up in someone’s system, a second test will be conducted.”

Myth: Drinking bleach will help you pass a drug test

Many websites claim that they possess the secret to passing a drug test, such as ingesting bleach or taking a synthetic product. This is extremely dangerous, and there isn’t anything available that someone can put into his or her system to get rid of the drugs.

“There may be ways to produce a false negative, but drug collectors know what signs to look for in case someone is trying to manipulate the results,” Smith says.

The big takeaway is that drug testing companies are trained to identify suspicious findings to ensure that you, as the employer, are getting the most accurate results. The purpose of drug testing isn’t to criminalize employees – it’s to create a safer, healthier work environment, which benefits everyone and your bottom line.

To learn more about University Hospitals’ occupational health and safety services, connect with University Hospitals Employer Solutions for more information.

Vivian Smith is an Occupational Health Coordinator at University Hospitals and works with businesses throughout Northeast Ohio to help them administer their drug testing programs.

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