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What if My Drug Test Results Come Back Positive?

drug test results come back positive

So you were given a drug test a recently and when the results came back your were positive for one or more drugs. You may have suspected they would, or in rare cases it’s a total surprise. What should you expect and what should you do when your drug test results come back positive?

Don’t Freak Out When Your Drug Test Results Come Back Positive

A positive drug test is not the end of the world. The first thing to do is settle your mind. You don’t need additional stress and worrying will have no effect on the outcome.

Consequences are hardly ever as severe as people think but people have done many things they regret immediately after receiving bad news. The worst thing you can do is continue using drugs.

What are the consequences of Failing a Drug Test?

Depending on what your drug test was for consequences can range from nothing to prison time. In the vast majority of cases people overestimate the consequences of failing a drug test, and in other cases they are extremely positive about the outcome.

Unless someone has firsthand experience or knows someone that has been through the exact process with very similar circumstances they will rarely have a totally accurate idea of the consequences of failing a drug test. Here are some likely scenarios by case.


If you fail your probation drug test it will most likely be sent to a lab for confirmation giving you several days to worry. The consequences of a failed drug test will be different depending on your original crime, your time on probation, the drugs you failed for and your probation officer’s own discretion.

In most cases someone that has done well for a while and has their first infraction will be referred to a drug counselor and may be asked to attend rehab after an assessment. For someone that has failed multiple tests however you could have your probation revoked. People that do go to jail for a failed probation drug test often get out sooner than expected.

Pre Employment Testing

If you fail a drug test when applying for a job 99% of the time you will not be hired and that will be the end of it. Many employers have a statute about how long a failed drug test will affect hiring, so you may be able to re apply in 6 months to 1 year.

Random Drug Testing At Work

Many employers do random drug testing to comply with federal guidelines and meet insurance requirements. For small businesses the result of a positive drug test will mostly be up to the discretion of the owner and your work history and importance will likely play a big part in how it turns out.

Larger corporations almost always have a drug treatment policy where employees that have a positive drug screen are given the opportunity to attend treatment and accept terms of a more strenuous testing program to continue their employment. A violation of this program will usually result in termination.

Post Accident Drug Test

Employers are required to do a post accident drug test of all involved parties when an on the job accident occurs that causes serious injury or death. This is probably one of the most serious drug tests. You and your company could face lawsuits and even jail time for negligence or manslaughter.

If you drive a vehicle or work around dangerous equipment, consider this before taking drugs even outside of work.

Medical Patient

Healthcare facilities drug test patients for many reasons. The most common is when prescribing narcotics. These tests are to inform the doctor about any drugs you may take or addictions you may have and depending on your treatment you may get a prescription anyway. In most cases during a healthcare screening you need to show positive for any drugs you are prescribed and negative for any other drugs. Any other result is a good reason for your Doctor to withhold a prescription or even discharge you from care.

What to Do If Your Drug Test Comes Back Positive

If your drug test comes back positive the first question you need to ask yourself is why you failed the test. If you used drugs accept that it’s your fault and admit guilt; probation officers and employers are more likely to help if you are honest and they will know you’re lying when the confirmation comes back.

If you have not used drugs you should request a confirmation. Make a list of all the medications you have taken in the last month and a list of any unusual foods you may have consumed. Educate yourself about false positives on a drug test and stay confident that it will be worked out at the lab.

If someone was injured you should retain legal counsel and not answer any questions unless instructed to by your lawyer. You should get a quantitative blood screen as soon as possible to document the levels of any drugs in your system. You may be able to use this as evidence in court if your impairment was truly not the cause of the accident.

Immediately quit taking drugs. In many cases you will face suspension or other consequences until you can pass a drug test.

If you have a drug problem seek help. The longer you use drugs the harder it is to quit and there are many benefits to living a drug free life.

The consequences for trying to tamper with a drug test are usually more severe in the legal system and healthcare, and identical to failing in an employment setting. Never attempt to adulterate a test because it will negate any opportunity for leniency or forgiveness.

Dealing With Positive Drug Tests

I cannot stress enough that failing a drug test is not the end of the world and in most cases the consequences are never as dire as people expect.

For organizations and individuals giving drug tests I would like to remind you that everyone deserves respect and just because someone fails a drug test does not make them a bad person. They are likely under a lot of stress and you can really help their state of mind by being understanding. Please do not use drug testing as a tool for personal revenge.

For anyone taking a drug test I’d like to remind you that the person in charge of your test is just doing their job and following procedure. They do not want to see you fail a drug test and it causes them a lot of stress knowing that you may lose your job or suffer other consequences as part of their job.



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How To Tell if Someone is High The Definitive Guide


The average person that’s unfamiliar with drug use doesn’t usually know how to tell if someone is high. Still, drug use has become a pervasive part of everyday life and over the last 2 decades prescription drugs have brought drug use into more homes and businesses than ever before.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 38% of adults battled a substance abuse disorder. Drug users are becoming more sophisticated at concealing their behavior. To help parents, law enforcement, employers and friends Drug Test City has put together a definitive guide on how to tell if someone is high.

Physical Signs That May Indicate Someone is High

The body gives away its secrets if you listen. When proactively identifying drug or alcohol impairment I like to start at the top of the head and work my way down.

Drug Impairment Indicators of the Eyes

The preferred field sobriety test of Law Enforcement is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Eye Test because the eyes are the most obvious physical indication of impairment and it’s the only indicator associated with the eyes that will hold weight in court.

how to tell if someone is high

The test for eye nystagmus is a complex and lengthy test that checks for involuntary jerking when the eye moves to a certain angle, but this is useless for the average person trying to covertly make a determination. Parents and other authority figures however may be able to perform sobriety testing or even a drug test to get more definitive answers. Other indicators are more obvious, non intrusive and easily noticed.

  • Redness
  • Glassiness
  • Constricted or dilated pupils
  • Involuntary or rapid eye movement
  •  Avoiding eye contact
  • Watery or dry eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  •  Tired eyes

Examples of Eye Indicators

Olfactory Drug Impairment Indicators

Depending on the route of administration drug use can case runny nose, redness, bloody nose and dry sinuses.

Users that snort drugs have a hard time concealing the drug residue that can become caked in their nostrils or lightly color one nostril’s hairs.

The most obvious olfactory indicator that someone is high or recently used drugs is your nose, not theirs. Alcohol and marijuana both have a pungent odor that is hard to mask. The majority of traffic citations issued for marijuana use cite the smell as probable cause. Careful users will carry cologne or perfume in their car and try to conceal the smell. If someone smells like fresh perfume after every break and coming back from lunch I would have strong suspicions of drug use. These smells will be easier to notice when the user is moving around or speaking.

Drug Impairment Indicators of the Mouth

The mouth may be the most affected part of the body by drug use. Bad oral hygiene can indicate long term drug use, but several other symptoms an suggest that a person is currently under the influence.

Dry mouth: Several classes of drugs dehydrate the body and cause dry mouth. Everything from marijuana to methamphetamine can lead to dry mouth.

Lip smacking and Licking Lips: This is a common reaction to dry mouth.

Teeth clenching: Many stimulants will cause users to clench their teeth.

Bad breath: Users that are high functioning on a maintenance drug such as Methadone or Suboxone may do a good job at hiding outward signs and symptoms of their drug use, but they will still usually suffer from dry mouth which causes bad breath over time.

Pot / Alcohol breath: Less careful users will often emit the smell of their preferred drug when they speak. More careful users may try and cover it up with excessive mouthwash.

Excessive talking: Most stimulants and many narcotic pain relievers cause euphoria and excessive talking. If someone has excessive bouts of talkativeness it’s very likely to influence of drugs.

Appetite: Drug use most often decreases appetite, although it can also increase it. Some drugs like Methadone cause users to crave sweets. A change in appetite coupled with other signs can be a strong indicator.

Slurred or rushed speech: Most drugs will have an effect on the user’s speech. Be aware of anything that is unusual in speech pattern or dialect.

Other Physical Signs

  • Exhaustion: Either from drug use or an associated lack of sleep. Fatigue can manifest itself physically in several different ways .
  • Track marks: IV drug users sometimes leave visible signs on their arms and hands. Others will noticeably attempt to hide their arms from plain view.
  •  Burns on hands and lips: Crack and meth users handle hot pipes and often burn their hands and lips.
  •  Sores: Using drugs itself rarely causes sores, but instead addicts will scratch and pick at their faces and arms.

Behavioral Signs Used to Tell When Someone is High

A person’s behavior can reveal a lot about themselves, especially any recent drug use. While it’s easy to notice exaggerated movements of a methamphetamine addict or a heroin junkie in a nod, subtle clues are harder to notice but just as hard to conceal. Reading someone’s behavior to suggest drug use is just another form of deception detection.

Movement: Stimulants can cause users to move erratically and spastically. Other drugs like marijuana can slow reaction time and delay movements.

The video below shows a woman high on flakka outside an apartment complex. This type of behavior isn’t common, but less exaggerated movement is common in most stimulant users.


Speech: Slurred speech is the hallmark of many narcotics and alcohol. Prescription pills like benzodiazepines and stronger narcotic pain relievers can cause slurred speech. As I mentioned before stimulants and opiates can cause euphoria and talkativeness. One of the most common indicators in a high functioning drug user, look for a person to have an episode of higher energy at specific times of day.

Energy level: Drug use is like a roller coaster of motivation and energy. Although some mental health diagnoses mimic this pattern, consider the subject’s indicators as a whole.

Confidence: A euphoric high will increase a person’s confidence. Specifically look for major shifts that are recurring.

Mood Swings: Newer users especially are affected by mood swings. Anger is the most common, but withdrawal from many drugs causes uncontrollable depression during the onset. The euphoria that accompanies a high is just as quickly replaced by lethargy later in the day.

Memory: Many drugs are associated with forgetfulness. Short term memory loss has long been noted as a side effect of marijuana use. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax can cause even more severe memory loss. Almost all drugs will cause some level of loss of focus. In the corporate world and college smart drugs have become popular, which have the opposite effect. Adderall can help students study for an exam, but it’s important to remember that it’s an amphetamine and is just as dangerous and addictive as a street drug.

Subtle Cues of Intoxication

Most of the time heavy drug users and those that exhibit obvious symptoms are easily spotted. You’re going to use this guide to identify the not-so-obvious ones.

Drug addicts need to work and live life too. They’ve been hiding their drug use for a long time and learning to work around people noticing. An advantage to being high everyday is that people recognize your behavior as normal.

If you have reasonable suspicion that an employee, child or subordinate is impaired you should drug test them immediately. If it’s a colleague or superior, you will want to verify your suspicions as much as possible before reporting them or making an accusation. People in higher positions are more likely to be higher functioning.

You will need to pay closer attention to observe mild symptoms and associate unrelated symptoms with each other. The biggest thing is unusual behaviors or fluctuating moods. Since many of the milder signs are common in the general population you should track observation of symptoms and look for patterns. Consider giving others the benefit of doubt though; it’s just as easy for them to make accusations and find an aspect of your life or work to draw attention to.

If someone that is actively concealing drug or alcohol use suspects you have noticed they may become nervous. Watch for signs like:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Shaking
  • Elevated heart rate

We hope this list helps you identify intoxication when it is a danger to you or those around you. Always use a drug test to confirm suspicions before issuing punishments or taking administrative actions against someone. We should all try and be more compassionate toward those with substance abuse issues, feel free to contact the staff at Drug Test City if you would like guidance on dealing with a friend, family member or co-worker that you believe has a substance abuse problem.