Understanding Drug Testing

We know drug users will lie to protect their relationship to intoxication.

One thing we have learned over the years is drug tests do not lie if drug testing protocol is followed properly from beginning to end.

Drug Testing:

Urine analysis testing is not only easy and convenient, but it also provides information about recent drug use. A drug user might tell you they have been smoking marijuana…But what other drugs are they using? Often times, drug users tell the person testing them, “Hey, don’t waste your time or a drug test. I smoked pot the other day.” In this scenario the drug user is deflecting and covering up other drugs by confessing to one. Typically, this situation plays out with the tester believing that they are being honest about using drugs and doesn’t think to continue on with the drug testing which might indicate if other drugs are present in their system. Another trick that users play is to ask to be tested. Typically, when this occurs the user is taking the test so that they can show that they are clean. However, they then know that they won’t be tested for a while so they go out and use right after the test. They then quit until the next test, and repeat the cycle. In such a situation, drug users are “flying under the radar.”
For these reasons and more, we suggest not only that testing be random, but also to sometimes test two or three days in a row back to back. For example, test on a Friday (which allows them to think they won’t be tested for a while) and then test them again on Saturday or Sunday. Testing randomly helps to prevent users from manipulating the results.

Drug Testing Sensitivity:

It cannot be stressed enough that DRUG TESTING MUST BE RANDOM.
Regarding test sensitivity: normally our tests detect marijuana for 7 to 10 days. However, marijuana in small doses used infrequently in the manner described above when they are “flying under the radar” can elicit a clean test in only a few days. Most other drugs are out of their system in 3 days.
If users know that they will be drug tested next week, then they will know that they can get drunk or high tonight, because it might be out of their system by then. Most marijuana users will be clean in a week or ten days on a 50ng THC cutoff test. They can be clean even sooner as already mentioned in the “flying under the radar” scenario. Alcohol is only detectable for up to 6 hours with the digital alcohol breathalyzers, and most all of the other drugs, i.e., cocaine, ecstasy, oxycontin, heroin, methamphetamine, opiates, etc are out of their system in 3 days.

Can The Drug Test Be Altered?

Possibly. One of the most successful ways a drug user might tamper with the drug test is to use a friend’s urine (or buy clean urine). This happens quite often. They will get urine from a friend, store it in their pants and pour it into the cup when being drug tested. Therefore, it is important that someone be present while they are testing. One tool that can be used to determine if the person being tested has used another persons urine or added water to a urine sample when it is not possible to be present in the bathroom when they give the sample is to use a digital thermometer to measure the temperature of the urine. Digital thermometers are inexpensive. After the urine sample has been taken, check the temperature. The temperature should be close to +/- 2 degrees of 98.6.
In our program we have interviewed parents to make sure they are following this protocol, and too often we hear, ” I didn’t follow the protocol, but I woke them up first thing in the morning, they went into the bathroom with only their underwear on, and the sample they gave me was yellow, warm and had bubbles …” This is the common statement of a parent who has just been handed fake or clean urine without knowing it because they didn’t not follow protocol.
The volume of urine and the container used for collection can effect the temperature. It is suggested that the collection container not be glass ceramic or plastic. Containers made from those materials cool down the urine quickly. It is best to use two Dixie paper cups stacked inside of each other to keep it insulated which ultimately helps to maintain the temperature of the urine.

Where Can I Buy Drug Tests & Digital Alcohol Breathalyzers?

We have worked hard over the years to find valid tests at affordable prices. We have tested many breathalyzers and have found the ones we give away to our clients and sell to other programs and families to work really well for only $15.00 each. They can be used repeatedly. This cost compares to the typical price of $80 – $180.
(If you are a program purchasing 20 or more we can reduce the price)

What Are The Costs of Drug Screens Used to Detect Street Drugs?

We use a drug screen which will test for marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine all in one test for only $5.00. This is the same test being sold at Walgreen’s for $30.00 to $40.00.

There is a 9 minute video which goes through everything you need to know about using the already mentioned digital alcohol breathalyzer, drug screens, drug testing protocol, detection times, and myths, etc. The video can be viewed by going to:



Jon Daily, LCSW, CADC II

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