How to Dispute a False-Positive Drug Test: It’s Not as Easy as You Think

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Taking certain medications or eating certain types of food can cause you to fail drug tests. You might think this is a remote possibility, but it’s actually quite common. In fact, 5% to 10% of cases return a false positive.

To avoid finding yourself in that sticky situation, we’re here to share the steps on how to dispute a false-positive drug test. We’ll also help you come up with ways to pass drug tests while minimizing your chances of getting a false positive.

What Does a False Positive Mean?

According to Confirm Biosciences, a medical technology company, “a false positive means that a sample is falsely reported as positive even if it is actually drug-free.”

You can also get a false negative, which means that you passed the drug test even if you’ve actually taken drugs prior to submitting a sample.

What Causes a False Positive?

Several factors can cause someone to get a false positive. Here are some of them:people discussing on a table

Low Drug Cut-Off Levels

The test cut-off level refers to the maximum amount of a drug (or metabolites) that you can have in your system before the lab determines you’ve failed the test.

One example is inhaling secondhand smoke from people using marijuana. Even though you have trace amounts of THC (the active ingredient in weed)  in your blood or urine, it’s unlikely that this will cause a false positive. That’s because the THC in your system doesn’t meet the drug’s cut-off level.

Most laboratories publish the drug cut-off levels for each drug they detect. These levels periodically change based on advice from health authorities. The United States Department of Health And Human Services (HHS) offers guidelines for federal workplace drug testing. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) publishes recommended cut-off levels for non-DOT testing.

Consuming Substances With Similar Drug Components

Consuming food or taking medications that are similar to drug components can cause you to get a false positive.

One example is eating anything laced with poppy seeds. Morphine, the active ingredient in opium, is taken from the poppy plant. So, consuming a poppy seed bagel, for example, can cause you to get a false positive for opiates because they have a lot of similarities in terms of chemical composition.

Additionally, if you’re going to take a drug test, it’s best to inform the lab testing facility beforehand about the medications you’re taking. Here are some types of drugs that can cause a false-positive:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Analgesics
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antibiotics
  • Decongestants
  • Dietary supplements
  • Weight-loss pills
  • Some OTC drugs (Ibuprofen and cold remedies)

Aside from the ones mentioned above, there are more types of drugs that can cause a false-positive result. Make sure the lab testing facility knows all about the medications you’re taking.

Prepare a copy of your prescriptions for them, as well. If your prescription was given by a doctor from abroad, make sure that the drug you’re taking is legal in the United States.

Inadequate Testing Methods

Your drug test results are heavily influenced by what type of testing methods are used. Per protocol, drug testing laboratories will do two tests on your sample. The first one will be an immunoassay test. This is a quick and efficient testing method that can identify specific drugs. However, immunoassay tests can cause you to get a false positive.

If you get a nonnegative result on the immunoassay test, the lab will conduct a confirmatory test called the gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) exam. This is a more rigorous process that validates the positive test.

The GC/MS test is more expensive, which is why it’s only done on samples that come back positive on the immunoassay test.  If the lab cuts corners and does not conduct a GC/MS test on samples, you could get a false-positive result.

What Types of Drugs do Tests Detect?

Your drug test results will depend on the number of drug panels that the lab will use. The most common ones are the 5-panel test and the 10-panel test.

The US Department of Transportation and most employers ask labs to use a 5-panel test to screen employees. They look for the following drugs in your system:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Marijuana (THC)

Employers that have very strict drug policies can also ask you to take 10-panel tests. In addition to the five drugs mentioned above, 10-panel tests look for the following in your system:

  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methadone
  • Methaqualone
  • Propoxyphene

Your employer, doctor, or the authorities may also order you to take drug tests for certain substances like oxycontin or LSD.

In case you get a false positive, you can review the drug panels with your physician or pharmacist to check which among the substances you’ve taken might have triggered the positive test.

How to Contest a False Positive

A false positive drug test can have serious consequences. You can lose your job, be denied opportunities, or even be suspended from work, school, or sporting events. So, it’s important to dispute a false positive drug test whenever it happens.

How do you go about this process? Here are the steps you should take depending on the type of drug test you’ve done.

Disputing Workplace and Pre-Employment Drug Testing

It’s common for employers nowadays to ask people to undergo pre-employment and random drug tests. You may also be asked to undergo drug screening if your supervisor suspects you of using drugs.

If you get a false-positive result, here are the steps you should take.

  1. Set up an appointment to speak with the person in charge of the company’s drug-testing program.
  2. Prepare a list of all the medications, vitamins, and dietary supplements you’re currently taking, including dosages and amounts. If you eat food with poppy seeds or any other substance that can cause a false positive, include those in your report as well.
  3. The laboratory that examined your sample should be able to check which of the substances you’ve taken can lead to a false positive. If they see you’re taking medications that can cause erroneous results, they’ll reexamine your sample. Per protocol, laboratories split your sample into two, precisely for this situation.
  4. If you still get a false positive after the lab has examined your second sample, ask to redo the drug screening. In some jurisdictions, you may be required to pay for the second test.
  5. If you still fail the second one, talk to an employment lawyer for an appeal. You can also ask a labor union to file a grievance with your state board. Student-athletes can have the NCAA-member institution appeal on their behalf.

Reminders on Disputing a Drug Test

All failed drug tests go through a medical review to determine why an employee could’ve failed the test. In the case of a DOT test, for example, a DOT-qualified physician will contact you for an interview and investigation. If they fail to contact you after three attempts, they’ll conclude by default that you’ve failed the test.

Secondly, drug testing policies also vary depending on the state you live in. Review local laws and policies to learn more about your rights.

Finally,  if your employer chooses to terminate you based on your results, you can hire an attorney and file charges against the company.

How to Pass a Drug Screening

Getting a false positive is stressful, if not devastating. Not only is filing an appeal time-consuming and expensive, but it can also raise suspicions down the line. Your employer will know that you’ve failed a test before, and will likely keep a closer eye on you.

Thankfully, there are ways to pass drug tests while minimizing the chances of getting a false-positive result. These methods will work no matter which types of medications or prescription drugs you use.

How To Pass A Urine Drug Screening

Urine drug screening is highly common because it’s fast and noninvasive. During a urine drug screening, you’ll be asked to fill a sample cup with your urine. Then, you’ll submit it to a lab technician for testing. They’ll first do a specimen validity test to confirm if your sample is real, then they’ll do further tests to check which drugs you have in your system.

If you’ve taken any medications recently and are anxious if they’ll show up and mess up your results, don’t worry. You can easily get around this by using Clear Choice Sub-Solution, a reliable synthetic urine product.

When mixed with water, the solution can pass off as the real thing. It contains creatinine, uric acid, urea, and all the other chemicals you’ll usually find in human urine. Plus, it doesn’t contain biocides, which are preservatives that are not normally found in real pee.

Another thing that makes this brand special is that it can heat up on its own. Other types of synthetic urine need a heating pad or a microwave in order to reach body temperature. Clear Choice Sub-Solution has a heat activator powder that allows it to reach the right temperature within seconds. That way, you’ll never be caught submitting cold pee to a lab technician.

Curious about this product? Read this article for more information on best fake piss kits.

How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Testing

Hair follicle drug testing can cause a lot of anxiety because it can find traces of the drugs you’ve used in the past 90 days. So, even if you’ve been clean for several weeks, you can still fail.

To make sure that no traces of drugs and medications show up on your results, use Old Style Aloe Rid Toxin Shampoo (full toxin shampoo review). It’s a powerful clarifying shampoo that can go deep into your hair follicles and remove drug metabolites, chlorine, pollutants, and other impurities.

Be sure to wash your hair with Old Style Aloe Rid Toxin Shampoo 15 times before you visit the drug testing facility. Use it alongside your regular shampoo and conditioner for best results.

How to Pass Mouth Swab Tests

Saliva tests are cheap and noninvasive, which is why a lot of employers go for this option. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to clear your mouth of any drug toxins right before you get mouth swabbed.

Just rinse your mouth three times with Toxin Rid Rescue Wash. This mouthwash contains various antioxidants to make sure that no drug toxins stay in your mouth and show up on your result. Hold it for three minutes each time you use it, then use six breath mints afterward.

Recommended reading: best ways how to pass a saliva drug test

How to Pass a Blood Exam

You can also get your blood drawn to determine which substances you have in your system. To avoid having random medications and drugs show up on your result, make sure your system is completely clean on the day you get your blood examined.

How do you do this? You can try a safe and natural detox program like Toxin Rid 10-Day Detox. This is composed of three components: the pre-rid pills, the detox liquid, and the dietary fiber. For the first step of the program, you’ll take three pills every five hours for 10 days. After you finish your last set of pills, drink the detox liquid.

The pills contain diuretics, which will stimulate your organs to get rid of anything you have in your system. They also have electrolytes to help your body stay in good condition, even as you’re expelling a lot of fluids.

Consuming the dietary fiber drink that comes with the detox program is an optional step. If you’re expecting to get tested, drink it to make sure that nothing is lingering in your system. With this, you’ll pass with flying colors!

Avoid Dealing With False-Positive Results

Having to dispute erroneous drug test results because of food, dietary supplements, or prescriptions isn’t something that everyone should have to deal with. If you follow our advice and use the products we recommend, you never have to deal with these complications. Not only will they help you pass, but they’ll make you feel less anxious about the drug screening process, too!