Just like any exam or test in school, if people are nervous they are going to fail they may look for ways to cheat the system. When it comes to drug tests, the results can have high stakes. Meaning that some will do whatever it takes to pass.

Is it possible to fake a drug test? How can you tell?

Whether someone is in recovery or attempting to pass a drug screening for a new job, people are always finding new ways to fake negative drug test results. Here is how to tell if your loved one is faking a drug test.

Types of Drug Tests

Drug tests typically follow a two step process:

First, immunoassays use antibodies to test whether the drugs being tested for are present in the sample by providing a “yes” or “no” answer. If the test indicates a positive result, then the sample is further processed to confirm which drugs and to measure the amount present. These further tests identify the drug by separating the compounds in the sample.

The different types of drug tests sample urine, saliva, blood, hair, and perspiration, each having its pros and cons. The drug test that is used typically depends on the goal of the test.

Hair testing is the most effective, it can detect if someone has participated in using substances for up to 90 days. However, it is more expensive and has a longer turnaround time than other tests. Urine screening is the most common drug test used in recovery to detect if a substance has been used within the past few days.

Urine Tests

One way your body flushes chemicals out of your system after taking drugs is through urine. Testing urine samples is the most commonly used drug test because it is easy, affordable, and delivers quick results.

Urine testing is the only method approved for federally-mandated drug testing. The most common substances that urine tests look for are marijuana, opioids, steroids, cocaine, barbiturates, and phencyclidine (PCP).

To contain a sample, you urinate in a sterile container like a plastic cup. To prevent people from filling the cup with water instead of urine, many testing locations will provide a bathroom without a working toilet or sink. Results can be available within just a few days or minutes depending on the test.

Is home drug testing a good idea?

When a loved one is participating in substance use, some will resort to at-home drug testing. There are many at-home testing kits available, and whether or not to drug test your loved one at home depends on the situation.

The insatiable need of the perfectionist to control situations and make everything right makes them do everything in their If your loved one is actively seeking accountability in their sobriety, at-home testing may be a great option. However, if your loved one feels forced, accused, mistrusted, or fearful, home drug testing may not be the best route to take. These feelings may not only strain your relationship but can also cause them to seek ways to cheat the test in order to avoid any consequences and make you happy.

While at-home drug testing is not 100% accurate, it can be used for preliminary findings if you are concerned your loved one is participating in substance abuse. However, if you are going to give your loved one an at-home drug test, understand emotions may arise and you will want to prevent any altering of results.

Ways People Try to Cheat During Urine Tests


People will often try to smuggle some form of liquid into the testing area and add it to the urine sample. Adulterants can be anything from bleach to eye drops and are intended to interfere with the drug testing process and results.


Switching the urine sample with clean or synthetic urine is a common way people will attempt to cheat on drug tests. Synthetic urine is a chemical powder that turns into urine when mixed with water. Some will even try to use someone else’s urine to pass the test.


Test takers may try to dilute their system with excessive water consumption, marketed “detox” drinks, or there are medicines that can mask substances in the body to pass a drug test. However, potential side effects include a change in the urine color, intestinal issues, and nausea. Some methods of masking drugs within the urine sample are by taking aspirin before a drug test, and some teens have even been found drinking bleach which is highly dangerous to their health.

How to Detect a Tampered Drug Test


This individual is the class clown. The youngest child of the family often takes up this role. They are fragile, weak, vulnerable, Drinking excessive water may cause urine to become more clear. On the other hand, detoxifiers may cause the urine to have an unnatural color. If an adulterant has been added to the urine, sometimes turbidity or frothing will occur.


If the urine has been adulterated with other substances such as vinegar or bleach, the urine will then often have a distinct odor of the adulterant.


When freshly collected, human urine typically has a temperature of between 32 degrees Celsius and 38 degrees Celsius.

Testing for Adulterants

Some different ways to detect the presence of adulterants on the spot are by using colorimetric reactions or testing strips.

Different colorimetric reactions can detect specific adulterants such as nitrite, PCC, and glutaraldehyde. For example, if the urine has been adulterated with nitrite by adding potassium permanganate and then hydrochloric acid then the urine will turn from pink to colorless. If the urine has been adulterated with PCC, by adding hydrogen peroxide to the sample it will turn brown.

There are also adulteration detection strips that can detect pH, creatinine, glutaraldehyde, nitrites, PCC, and other oxidants available to purchase.

Get Help For Substance Use Disorders

People will go to new heights to pass a drug test, even if it means lying to their loved ones or potentially harming themselves.If you’re unsure whether your loved one is being truthful in sobriety or faking their drug tests, Healthy Life Recovery is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.


Contributors, WebMD Editorial. “What Are Urine Drug Tests?” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/urine-tests-illicit-drug-use.

Gupte, Raeesa. “How to Detect Tampered Drug Tests.” Clinical Lab Manager, https://www.clinicallabmanager.com/trends/clinical-mass-spectrometry/how-to-detect-tampered-drug-tests-16261.

Medical Review Officer Manual – Samhsa. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/workplace/MRO_Manual_2010_100908.pdf.

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