By Sarah Davis, NDASA assistant and registered drug test collector
Where there is testing, unfortunately, there is also cheating. We are living in the golden age of products that claim to help an individual pass a drug screen. Cheat devices are available from private sellers online, but they are also widely available in places as accessible to the public as Walmart. There is a different product for every type of test that can be administered, and each product is used differently and makes different promises to its consumers.
So, as collectors, how can we stay up to date on the multitude of devices that are continually coming on the market and what should we do to combat them when we encounter them?
Tamper Products 101
Synthetic urine is a staple of drug test dodging and can be obtained online or from drug paraphernalia shops. There are so many things that can go wrong with using fake urine to attempt to cheat a drug test, which makes it one of the easiest to detect during a collection. Temperature, color and smell are all factors that collectors should be on the lookout for when performing a urine collection. A fake urine specimen will almost never pass all three types of observations. Typically, synthetic urine products are an unnatural, vibrant yellow color. Of course, because no two donors are the same, collectors see the full spectrum of what can be considered “yellow” all day every day. The color of the specimen can be an indicator that the collector needs to carefully inspect the specimen further to determine its validity.
The absence of a smell or a pleasant detergent-like smell often accompanies a fake urine specimen. These specimens are typically also far too hot or cold. Paying close attention to the temperature strip on the collection cup can be one of the best lines of defense against a synthetic specimen slipping through. In my own experience as a collector, a synthetic urine specimen was heated to the point of causing severe burns on the donor when she accidentally spilled it on herself while in the restroom. Different brands of fake urine can have different colors and smells, but they all have one very important thing in common: if you place the specimen in a sealed container, and shake it, a fake specimen will not bubble/foam like authentic urine. This is typically the last step used in determining if a sample provided is legitimate or highly suspect.
Drug Detox Kits
Some companies offer “cleanse systems” for people seeking to pass a urine drug test. These kits come with a hefty price tag, and often include supplements and drink mixes that are meant to be taken daily (sometimes multiple times a day) for upwards of 30 days. These systems guarantee you a negative drug screen if the instructions are followed correctly and the donor stops any drug use during the detox. These products may or may not flush toxins out of the system but are a complete waste of money when you know the science. Most drugs of abuse naturally metabolize in the body within 30 days and are undetectable in a urine test. Cleansing systems are truly nothing but a money-making scheme that profitting off those who are desperate to pass a drug test.
Oral Fluid Tampering Mouthwash
A newer item on the market is a mouthwash that is promoted as a substance that will secure a negative oral fluid test result for a donor. This product’s most unique feature is the directions of use. While there are not many brands of drug-test-cheating mouthwash available, their directions all seem to be a delicate balancing act of timing and measurements of liquid that should be followed by the user “to the T” otherwise they will not work. One company boasts a claim that they will provide the user with a 500% refund on the cost of the product if the consumer can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was used correctly and provide the company with a copy of the unfavorable drug test results.
The manufacturers claim to be able to “cleanse” the user’s mouth and make any illicit drugs undetectable in their oral fluid, but they do not feel it necessary to ever explain how these products are meant to work. Perhaps the lack of explanation is, simply put, because these products just do not work. These tampering tools all need to be used in a very short timeframe just before the oral fluid collection takes place to be useful; in some cases, less than five minutes before the collection takes place. The best defense against these mouthwash products is for the collector to be aware and observant and to follow the correct collection process.
Most oral fluid collection procedures state that the donor must have NOTHING in their mouth (including liquids like water/coffee/soda) for 10 full minutes before the collection is performed. When the collector complies with this timeframe, all current mouthwash products on the market are rendered completely useless. (Because the donor is not able to follow the instructions for the mouth wash, this also disqualifies the user from receiving their attractive “500% refund” for the product.)
Hair Specimen Tampering Shampoos and Powders
These products claim to wash all toxins out of the hair and purify the scalp for about six hours for a negative hair specimen result. These “clarifying” shampoos can cost up to $160 per bottle and absolutely do not work. Shampoos, powders, and chemical processes such as bleaching and dyeing do not interfere with drug test results mainly because the protected internal “shaft” of the hair strand is tested, rendering external damage inadequate. Once again, a well-trained and on-the-ball specimen collector is key. When hair is collected close to the donor’s scalp, from several places on the head, and collected in an adequate amount, the results of the test will be unaffected by any attempt to cheat the test.
The deep dark depths of the internet offer other tips such as drinking bleach or consuming an entire bottle of the vitamin Niacin the day before a drug screen. These strategies can be dangerous and are only effective when they delay a specimen collection because the donor needs to go to the emergency room. There will always be donors attempting to cheat their drug test and there will always be scammers eager to take their money without regard for what the donor may face on the other side of a positive drug test. As collections professionals, our best weapons are the protocols and practices we have been trained in. If you are vigilant and take no shortcuts during the collection process, you will typically obtain the most accurate test possible. As a donor, it is important to be wary of scams and know that the only certain way to pass a drug screen, is to cease the usage of drugs.