The Ways People Try to Cheat a Drug Test

Marie Law Alphabiolabs

By Marie Law, Head of Toxicology at AlphaBiolabs
Last reviewed: 02/13/2023

For as long as there has been drug testing, people have been trying to find ways to cheat drug tests.

Of course, the only way to be certain of receiving a negative drug test result is to abstain from taking drugs in the first place. However, this does not deter people from trying to ‘fool’ the tests.

In this article, we discuss the ways that people try to cheat drug tests – and why these methods won’t work.

How can drugs be detected by a drug test?

When a person uses drugs, a proportion of the drug and its metabolites are released into the bloodstream, with a small amount being excreted by the body in different ways.

This makes it possible to analyze a variety of samples for the presence of drugs including urine, saliva (oral fluid), hair and nails, with each drug testing method offering a different insight into a person’s drug use.

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How people try to cheat drug tests

Even though advances in toxicology make it virtually impossible to ‘cheat’ a drug test, many people still attempt it when faced with the prospect of receiving a positive drug test result.

Here are some of the most common ways that people try to cheat drug tests.

Adding substances to a urine sample

There are people who believe that adding certain chemicals to a urine sample will prevent any drug use from being detected.

However, toxicology processes for urine drug testing are incredibly sophisticated, with laboratories routinely testing for the chemicals that people use to try and cheat the tests.

If any of these chemicals are detected, this will be reported as a failed drug test, and another urine sample will be needed.

Drinking lots of water

It is a common misconception that drinking a lot of water before a urine drug test will help you pass the test.

Urine drug tests are extremely sensitive, meaning it is unlikely that you would ever be able to cheat a drug test simply by drinking a large amount of water.

Drinking water or any other concoction before a test would only dilute a urine sample, but you would need to have had a significant quantity of fluids for this to happen.

Drinking too much water can also be dangerous, as you are diluting electrolytes in the body. This is referred to as ‘water intoxication’ which in extreme cases can be fatal.

In any case, laboratory analysis would always be able to tell whether a urine sample has been diluted.

Using synthetic urine or someone else’s ‘clean’ urine sample

Some people will try to use synthetic urine to pass a drug test: a method which will not work, as laboratories are able to tell the difference between synthetic urine and the real thing.

It is also quite common for people to try and submit someone’s else’s urine, pretending it is their own.

However, when a urine test is performed for legal purposes, the temperature of the urine sample is checked within a few minutes of sample collection, meaning that you are unlikely to pass a drug test by tampering with a urine sample in this way.

Dyeing or bleaching hair

Although some hair treatments have been known to lessen the concentration of drugs found in hair, it is extremely unlikely that you would be able to pass a drug test simply by dyeing or bleaching your hair.

When a person takes drugs, they are broken down by the liver, and a proportion of the parent drug and its metabolites are absorbed into the bloodstream.

These drugs then enter the hair follicle and become trapped in the medulla, the innermost layer of the hair shaft. These substances remain trapped in the hair as it grows, meaning dyeing or bleaching would not remove drugs from the hair entirely.

Can you Bypass a Hair Follicle Drug Test?

Can you cheat a drug test?

Thanks to advances in modern toxicology processes, it is extremely unlikely that you would be able to cheat a drug test, even by using the methods mentioned in this article.

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Marie Law AlphaBiolabs

Marie Law

Head of Toxicology at AlphaBiolabs
A highly-skilled and respected scientist with over 13 years’ experience in the field of forensics, Marie joined AlphaBiolabs in 2022 and oversees the company’s growing toxicology team. As Head of Toxicology, Marie’s day-to-day responsibilities include maintaining the highest quality testing standards for toxicology and further enhancing AlphaBiolabs’ drug and alcohol testing services for members of the public and the legal sector.

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