How Employers Can Prevent Drug Test Cheating

How Employers Can Prevent Drug Test Cheating

By Jennifer Gladstone

“How to cheat on a drug test?”

This is Googled thousands of times a day, and the query gets more than a million hits in less than a second. With millions of tests being conducted every year, it is not surprising that some are trying to game the system.

But there are ways employers can fight back.


How do people cheat on drug tests?

There are three main ways people cheat on urine-based drug tests:

  1. They ingest something
  2. They add something
  3. They sneak something into the testing site

Websites do their best to convince people that specially formulated drinks, mouthwashes or vitamins can help them beat the test. Others just say to drink gallons of water to dilute the evidence of drugs in the urine – or to even add detergent or bleach. Labs have gotten wise to these methods and have other tests that can show if a sample has been diluted in any of these ways. The craziest part of the “Beat the Test Biz” is sneaking in clean samples in some of the wildest contraptions you’ve ever seen.

All I’m going to say is that the Whizinator and the Butt Wedge are real.


How can employers prevent cheating?

The first step to preventing drug test cheating is to have tight control over the process. This can mean several things:

  • Don’t give the applicant or employee too much notice of the testing. Time is a friend to the casual user. If you are testing a new hire, invite them for another interview, but send them to the lab instead. If you are doing random testing of current employees, don’t schedule the tests for the same day and time every Mix it up. Keep them guessing.
  • Monitor check-in times at the lab. If you send someone for a test, be sure to check how long it takes them to show up. Did they go right away or show up hours later? A long delay could show they are buying time to metabolize a drug, or they were setting up a way to cheat. A common trick is to show up after the drug testing facility has closed for the day, and then play dumb when asked why they’d missed their window.
  • Check your policy and state laws to see if you can use alternative testing methods, such as oral fluid or hair. Different tests are good for different situations. Hair testing, for example, is great when it comes to discovering long-term users, but it is terrible for post-accident testing because it can take 7 to 10 days of drugs to show up.
  • If possible, you might even consider setting up an on-site collection instead of sending people away to a lab for random testing.

Google isn’t just good for information on cheating, but it’s the first place people will turn once they’ve failed a drug test. Be prepared for someone to claim you are stomping on their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. That’s a standard ploy on the cheating sites. They could also allege it was a false positive. But if you use a certified lab with a screen and confirm process and a Medical Review Officer (MRO), you can usually put those complaints to rest. The screen and confirm process uses two chemically different ways of verifying that a sample contains evidence of drug use, and the MRO certifies that the drug use either was or was not legal via a confidential conversation with the donor.

Another option is to have all specimens collected as a split specimen. This process divides a urine sample in two. If the first sample tests positive and the donor disputes the result, the second sample can be sent to a different lab to be re-tested using the same screen and confirm method that the first lab used in the original test. In this case, both must come back positive for someone to fail the test – however, it is very rare for a re-test to come back with a different result for a urine test.

If the drug testing results will be utilized to make an adverse hiring decision, you should also discuss having an adverse action process in place with your counsel. It is important to make sure that your policy is clearly written regarding your drug test program, and that you are aware of the state laws in your area. By adhering to some State Drug Test laws, you can even qualify for an insurance discount.

As with most things, preparation is key. Know that if you have prospects and employees drug test, you will deal with cheaters. However, a solid policy and some forethought can give you the upper hand.

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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