It is very common to have faint lines on drug tests. Most at home drug tests explicitly state that a faint line is a negative result, but customers still assume that it means there is some level of the drug present.
Faint Lines on Drug Tests Are Negative
Faint lines are always negative. The purpose of a drug test is to determine whether there is less or more of a certain concentration of metabolite present in the urine. You should interpret all Drug tests on a pass / fail basis. Drug testing cups are not quantitative and cannot indicate the amount of a drug that is present in the sample.
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Drug Test City drug tests are made to the same standards with the same cutoff levels as most drug tests used nationwide. Purchase our 12 panel cups to see for sure what is on a 12 panel drug test .
Keep in mind on a 12 panel drug test you are actually performing 12 assays at once. Each test uses its own regeant and calibration. THC tests are notorious for having faint lines even for donors that have never smoked in their lives.
Tests are designed for consistent results display, but each assay is never going to have identical line darkness. It would be more accurate to compare the darkness of strips testing the same drug than different strips on a multi-panel cup.
Variations in Urine Makeup
Urine is a complex substance that varies in makeup from person to person. The chemical makeup of urine alone can lead to test lines showing lighter or darker from one person to the next. Researchers published a database showing over 3,100 small molecule metabolites that can be found in urine. 1,500 compounds are created by the body alone and an additional 2,300 compounds come from diet, cosmetics, drugs and the environment.
There are also dozens of variables that exist outside the laboratory that play into drug testing results.
Temperature of the room
Temperature of the urine
Age of the test
Amount of urine in the cup
Amount of time the cup has sat before reading results
There are many substances that can lead to false positives, and in a similar vein many substances can cause a faint line on a drug test. People take more prescription medication, over the counter medication, supplements and vitamins these days. Rapid drug tests are testing for metabolites that those drugs are broken down into and not the drug itself . Our bodies naturally produce about 4 grams of alcohol every day.
Finally trace levels of the metabolite can cause a minor fading of the assay line. It’s always the first instinct of someone to believe trace levels are what causes faint lines on drug tests, and in some cases that’s true. The target metabolites are far more reactive than any other substance that could be found in the urine. However a faint line is still a line and indicates a negative result.
Addressing Faint Lines on Drug Tests
Even though you will always have to deal with faint lines you can do things to make sure your results are as accurate as possible.
Tightly control independent variables during testing and storage, especially temperature.
Consistently read results at the 5 minute mark.
Discard expired tests.
If possible test first thing in the morning before the subject can ingest water.
Have subjects report all medications, supplements, and energy drink consumption.
Almost all point of care drug tests are advertised as CLIA waived. Customers often want to know what does CLIA waived mean, and why is it so important?
CLIA stands for Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments. CLIA is a set of guidelines and regulations that are jointly enforced by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
In its most basic form the FDA categorizes all diagnostic tests according to complexity. There are 3 levels of complexity:
CLIA Waived Drug Tests
For a test to be waived it must :
Require minimal scientific and technical knowledge to perform the test and the knowledge must be easily obtained through on the job instruction with minimal training.
Regeants must be pre-packaged, reliable, stable and require no special handling, precautions, or storage.
Operational is automatic or easily controlled.
Calibration, Quality Control & external proficiency testing materials must be readily available and stable.
Test system troubleshooting is automatic or self correcting, or clearly described and requires minimal judgement.
Minimal interpretation and judgement are required to analyze results.
Have been issued a CLIA waiver and number by the FDA.
Basically a CLIA waived test is a test that can be performed by anyone at home or in any setting without special raining or certification. Besides the requirements for being fool proof, a test must apply and receive a CLIA waiver or be amended onto an existing CLIA waiver with updated inserts and labeling. Someone can build a drug test identical to our CLIA waived 12 Panel Test and it wouldn’t be considered CLIA waived until they were issued the waiver by the FDA.
For a multi-panel drug test each strip and the device must be covered under the waiver, however enforcement is carried out at the state level and many states do not strictly enforce this. Every strip on the test must be CLIA waived for the test to be CLIA waived. Most states have employees within their state health departments that are contracted directly with the CMS as CLIA surveyors.
Some states have their own licensure and infrastructure for enforcing CLIA. Their regulations are usually more stringent, but at the very least meet the federal requirements.
For a test to be CLIA waived the FDA must inspect the facility where it is manufactured. During the Coronavirus pandemic the FDA suspended drug and medical device inspections. For the majority of drug tests an existing CLIA waiver is amended for slight changes to labeling and recently waived tests are produced by facilities that are already producing CLIA waived drug tests.
Just because a drug test is advertised or labeled as CLIA waived does not mean it really is. The only sure way to check is to see if the test and all its component strips are listed correctly in the FDA CLIA medical device database.
According to Alicia Williams, a CLIA Surveyor for the state of Oklahoma, many drug test cups that are re-labeled do not file the appropriate paperwork with the FDA and even though they are advertised as CLIA waived they do not meet the guidelines. Suppliers often sell these tests for months and potentially thousands of labs, healthcare facilities and other businesses are using tests that they believe are CLIA waived but aren’t.
Reasons You May Need a CLIA Waiver
You will need a CLIA waiver if you plan on charging someone for testing and do not have an employee that is properly certified in conducting moderate or high complexity tests.
You will need a CLIA waiver if you charge insurance for drug testing at a medical practice.
You will need a CLIA waiver to test employees if you do not have staff properly certified in conducting moderate or high complexity tests.
CLIA waivers are not available for all types of drugs and it can take years for a facility to get new drugs issued for existing or new waivers. In this case tests can be used “for forensic use only”. For example it currently isn’t possible to get a fentanyl test that is CLIA waived, but the drug is becoming more popular. Some professionals will order a single panel fentanyl strip in addition to a CLIA waived 12 panel cup so they can send a sample for laboratory confirmation if it fails for fentanyl, but for all other purposes their testing is covered by CLIA.
For a laboratory to perform high complexity tests the Executive Director has to be a certified pathologist or have a P.H.D. with related board certification and each technician has to have an Associates Degree minimum.
Even though a test is very simple if the distributor does not complete the required filings and their tests are not listed on the FDA’s CLIA medical device database you still need the infrastructure and certifications that a high complexity lab would need.
“Oklahoma CLIA surveyors can be contacted through email and cell phone. We encourage laboratories or potential laboratory personnel to ask questions. We believe in a partnership between the laboratory and the CLIA State Agency to deliver accurate laboratory test results.”
–Alicia Williams, BS, MS, MLS (ASCP)
Clinical Health Facility Surveyor
Oklahoma State Department of Health
The personnel on staff in your state are usually happy to help with any questions you have. According to Alicia Williams, a clinical health facility surveyor for the state of Oklahoma, “Oklahoma CLIA surveyors can be contacted through email and cell phone. We encourage laboratories or potential laboratory personnel to ask questions. We believe in a partnership between the laboratory and the CLIA State Agency to deliver accurate laboratory test results.”.
When customers purchase a 12 panel drug test they usually recognize most of the abbreviations, but may be confused by the pharmaceuticals.
What is BUP on a Drug Test?
BUP stands for Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine (BUP) is an opioid that is most commonly used to treat chronic opioid addiction. It’s often prescribed as Suboxone, which contains naloxone to discourage misuse. Suboxone is prescribed in a tablet or strip that is menat to be taken sublingually (under the tongue).
Buprenorphine (BUP) is long acting and has a low ceiling compared to its toxic level. This means that at a certain dose taking more won’t make you higher, it just wastes more of your medication. The ceiling is far below the level where the drug becomes lethal due to respiratory depression. On the contrary Heroin hs a high ceiling (the more you take the higher you get) and the level where someone is very high is close to the level where it is lethal.
Since the danger is lower and the effects last so long the government has allowed Suboxone clinics to have more relaxed guidelines than Methadone clinics. It’s also subsidized by healthcare. All of these factors has lead to buprenorphine (BUP) becoming the opioid of choice for drug users that are addicted to opiates and don’t have much money to keep up a heroin addiction. Users can get their own prescription for Suboxone or trade for it cheaply on the streets.
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Drug Test City drug tests are made to the same standards with the same cutoff levels as most drug tests used nationwide. Purchase our 12 panel cups to see for sure what is on a 12 panel drug test .
In many areas hardest hit by the opioid epidemic users have moved to using cheaper methamphetamine to get high and buprenorphine to fight withdrawals from the oxycodone and heroin they were previously addicted to.
Pregnant mothers are given Subutex, Buprenorphine without naloxone, because it is thought to be less harmful to unborn babies.
Buprenorphine (BUP) was patented in 1965 but wasn’t approved for medical use until the early 1980s.
Buprenorphine (BUP) is a schedule III drug in the United States.
Side Effects of Buprenorphine
bloating of extremities
bloody or cloudy urine
loss of appetite
pounding in the ears
slow or fast heartbeat
tightness in the chest
tingling of the hands or feet
troubled breathing with exertion
Suboxone is often prescribed in the form of a strip that could be mistaken for something else. As a sublingual medication it can be absorbed easily through the mucous membranes.
The naloxone and Buprenorphine can be very dangerous to someone that hasn’t taken Buprenorphine recently but has taken other opioids. Buprenorphine has a much higher affinity for opioid receptors and can cause immediate withdrawal like effects to the user.
One of the most recent trends in tampering and adulteration of drug testing is people using fake pee as a substitute for their own sample. Subjects have been using other people’s clean urine for decades, but have sometimes been surprised when the urine they brought failed for more drugs than their own urine would have. More and more people ask us “can fake pee be detected in a drug test?” because it would be a more convenient method of defrauding tests for them.
Using fake pee is more convenient and more trustworthy for someone trying to tamper with their drug test. It’s developed to match the composition and appearance of real urine as closely as possible.
12 Panel Drug Tests – Lowest Price Online
Drug Test City drug tests are made to the same standards with the same cutoff levels as most drug tests used nationwide. Purchase our 12 panel cups to see for sure what is on a 12 panel drug test .
Fake pee is easily detected in a drug test when a laboratory is looking for it. Since more people are using fake pee to tamper with their drug test labs have started testing for analytes that are found in human urine but aren’t found in fake pee. Uric acid for example isn’t a common ingredient in much of the fake urine available.
Have you ever forgot to flush after urinating and came back later to an awful smell coming from the toilet? Uric acid and certain bacteria present in urine are left out of fake pee so it has a longer shelf life. Fake pee wasn’t designed to completely fool lab equipment, so it will likely always be detected when your sample is sent to a lab for confirmation. Besides uric acid there are approximately 12 other analytes that are expelled in human urine that would not be stable in a product that needs to be stored more than a few days.
We suggest that companies and medical practices perform visual confirmations on their drug tests. This means an employee will confirm that the sample originated from the donor as a witness.
It would be very challenging for someone to substitute fake pee for their own urine with a proper visual confirmation. Prosthetics are made to help trick employees, but they have been known to malfunction and are easily noticed by most witnesses.
There are also belts available that have a reservoir and tubing to help trick a witness. The belt uses body heat to keep the temperature of the urine warm enough to activate a temperature strip. Again, these devices are fairly easy to identify especially if the witness has been trained to catch people smuggling clean urine.
So can fake pee be detected in a drug test? It can easily be detected in a drug test and a witness can negate people’s ability to defraud simpler tests.
Does Fake Pee Ever Work?
Fake pee was originally developed as a control tool for scientists and lab technicians to use for testing. It helped eliminate variables such as dilution, composition, and contamination during experiments that required human urine. It could be stored for longer periods without refrigeration.
So during a point of care drug test the fake urine will test like clean urine. Since a quantitative drug test is only confirming whether a certain drug’s metabolites are present above a specified level in a substance diluted to the level of average human urine, water will even work if there are no metabolites present. This is why most organizations perform a visual confirmation, use cups with adulterant test strips, or randomly lab negative samples.
If you are trying to cheat on a drug test the likelihood of being caught is directly related to the policies of the organization testing you. The more time and money they invest on stopping adulteration the harder it will be for you to tamper with a test.
As far as a home test cup goes there are basically 2 categories. Cups with adulteration strips and cups without adulteration strips. Most fake urine available will pass on both cups because they are engineered to have perfect readings on most adulterant tests. Urine adulteration checks include:
However all it takes is for the person who is giving you the drug test to watch you pee and you won’t get a chance to substitute your fake pee for your sample.
Both types of cups usually have a temperature strip however, and a sample that doesn’t register will likely trigger suspicions.
If the witness isn’t paying attention and you have taken measures to keep your fake pee warm enough to register at body temperature then you might get away with it. The real question is, are you willing to get caught?
Risks and Consequences of Using Fake Pee
The investment in combating adulteration is often directly correlated to the consequences of catching someone tampering with their drug test. A person on probation will face a zero tolerance policy and tampering with a urine sample will result in immediate jail time. A patient that is prescribed narcotics may not be watched as closely but will be expected to produce a sample that is positive for the drugs they are prescribed. Most doctors will refuse to prescribe and note it on their chart if a patient is ever caught tampering with a drug test.
Employment tests vary, but most of the time they either outsource their testing to a company that has strict guidelines for identifying adulteration, or they run their own program and probably put a lot of effort into making sure it’s not wasteful. An exception would be a company with relaxed guidelines that only drug tests to satisfy an insurance guideline.
In any case, it would put a company in a position of liability if they hired a potential employee that tampered with their drug test. In almost every case you will not be hired, and in some cases you could be blackballed by an entire industry for tampering with a drug test. Tampering with a drug test is in many ways worse than failing one.
Boeing fired CNC Machinist Michael Kelly after catching him trying to substitute a liquid for his own sample during a drug test. Kelly sued Boeing for wrongful termination, but lost the suit and could not have won even it was proved he did not tamper with the drug test because Boeing acted in good faith.
The consequences of attempting to defraud a drug test are becoming more serious. Several states have passed laws that make it illegal to use, possess, sale, manufacture or distribute fake pee. In many of those states there are sections that stipulates that if a technician catches someone using fake pee or attempting to defraud a drug test they must report it to the authorities or risk being penalized themselves.
Synthetic Urine Bans by State
In the United States there is currently no federal law banning the sale or use of fake pee, but 19 states have enacted legislation regarding synthetic urine.
Alabama’s SB111 prohibits the manufacture, marketing, sale, distribution, use, and possession of synthetic urine or a urine additive. 1st offense is a class B misdemeanor.
Oklahoma Code §63-7002 is a comprehensive bill covering fake urine and popular adulterants. The penalty is a misdemeanor.
Arkansas Code § 5-60-201is a comprehensive bill covering fake urine and popular adulterants. The penalty is a class B misdemeanor.
South Carolina Code 16-13-470 is a comprehensive bill covering fake urine and popular adulterants. First offense is a misdemeanor, second offense is a felony.
Mississippi H.B. 1080 the popular “Urine Trouble Act” is a comprehensive bill covering fake urine and popular adulterants. The penalty is a misdemeanor with a 6 month jail sentence and $1,000 fine.
Tennessee § 39-17-437 makes it illegal to use, possess or sale synthetic urine. Use or possession is a class A misdemeanor, sales is a class C misdemeanor.
Florida Statute 817.565(b) doesn’t mention fake urine specifically, but makes it illegal to sale, use, distribute, manufacture or advertise substances intended to defraud a drug test.
Wisconsin 2015 AB658 criminalizes the use, possession, manufacture, distribution and advertisement any substance or device meant to defraud, circumvent, interfere with or provide a substitute for a bodily fluid sample.
Wyoming § 6-3-614is a comprehensive bill covering fake urine and popular adulterants. First offense is a misdemeanor, second offense is a misdemeanor.
Michigan Article 23 employees are barred from interfering with any test procedure or tampering with any test sample
So in conclusion, can fake pee be detected in a drug test? Yes it can, and you’re even more likely to be caught by a witness or technician. It can be detected and penalties are getting stiffer for people that get caught.
What is the difference between a home drug test vs. a lab drug test? A lot of customers assume that when a they go to a physical location to take a drug test that it’s more accurate. That’s not always the case, but there are some differences between a home drug test vs. lab drug test.
Home Drug Test vs. Lab Drug Test
Many organizations use home drug testing kits that are CLIA waived because lab costs are so high and so any employee can administer the test. They are relatively accurate and give results within a couple minutes. Usually positive tests are then sealed and sent to a lab for confirmation. Laboratories charge by the drug so it is much cheaper to confirm the presence of 1 drug than it is to test for 12 drugs using complex laboratory equipment.
Other organizations that run a lot of drug tests and have a high rate of failure send all their tests to a lab. Some facilities will even build their own lab. Usually the cost of lab testing is subsidized in some way (either the customer pays for it or insurance pays part of the cost). Medicare and most insurances will only pay for 1 type of drug test per visit so they will not pay for a standard 12 panel cup test and a confirmation.
Home Drug Testing
Drug Testing you do at home will generally use a cup or cassette with different strips for each drug. The strip contains reagents which is the scientific term for compounds that react to metabolites produced by the drug in your body.
When you perform a drug test with a cup like our 12 Panel drug test at home you are testing for a chemical reaction between the reagent on your strips and a known quantity of metabolites in the subject urine. It’s almost like a small science lab in your house!
The biggest difference between a test that is sold to the public is whether or not it is CLIA waived.
CLIA waived means that the FDA has determined that the test is simple and accurate enough to be performed by an untrained person with a simple set of printed instructions.
Drug tests that you can use at home are considered qualitative and presumptive, meaning that they cannot tell you exactly how much drugs are present in the sample and that a positive result means that the donor likely used drugs recently.
Lab Drug Testing
Drug testing at a lab can be accomplished a number of different ways. In some cases a lab may used the same type of reagents that are used in home drug tests to do testing. They may or may not use CLIA waived tests because their technicians are likely certified in forensic drug test analysis.
Usually it is assumed that if someone sends a sample to be tested at a lab that they will at the very minimum use a presumptive drug testing method that is interpreted with the use of an instrument. This usually means they are using a drug test much like ours that is inserted into a machine that reads the results. This step takes out human error and subjectivity.
The primary reason to send a sample to a lab is to get a confirmation that uses imunoassay, mass spectrometry or chromatography. Some of these instrument chemistry analyzers are capable of detailing the quantity of metabolite in the sample. You can make deductions with this information (such as the subject is a light user or the subject had not used that day).
Immunoassay is basically the same method used by a home drug test. A reagent that binds to the analyte is mixed with the sample and the contents are measured. A home drug test has the reagents configured in a manner that is easy to use and it’s calibrated to variables determined at the time of manufacture.
An immunoassay run in a lab can be much more detailed. The sample can have its components separated to make the reagents bind to the analytes easier. The reagents can be added multiple times to make sure nothing is missed. Each test is calibrated at the time of testing to a control solution to account for variables.
In the home drug test the reagent uses a control and detection line as a signal. In a lab performed immunoassay the signal can be a number of things. The most common is linking a chemical that changes color when the reaction takes place. Other more accurate tests use radio isotopes that can be measured precisely with additional instrumentation.
Chromatography & Mass Spectrometry
With mass spectrometry a sample is bombarded with electrons which separate the sample into ionized fragments. The components sometimes separate, but even if they do not they can still be measured by an instrument capable of detecting charged particles. The instrument cycles through an intensity spectrum which correlates to mass; the results are recorded on a graph and correlated to known masses of molecules that are being detected.
Chromatography makes use of a fluid to separate a substance into its components. Various constituents travel through the liquid at different speeds causing them to separate. This is called the mobile phase of chromatography. A structure or chemical is used to stop the component particles in a stationary position. Chromatography got its name from the different colors created by the constituent particles of plants.
The most definitive laboratory test for drug testing uses a combination of gas chromatography with mass spectrometry to first separate and then accurately measure the metabolites present in a sample. By combining gas chromatography with mass spectrometry a lab technician can get a definitive measurement on the quantity of metabolites in a sample. While this testing is more accurate, it’s also very costly especially if testing for multiple drugs. Most confirmations a lab will only test for drugs that were indicated positive by presumptive testing.
Which is Better?
The bottom line is that testing done with experienced technicians using expensive equipment in a controlled laboratory is more accurate. You just need to make sure than when you pay hundreds of dollars for complex testing using expensive tools that that’s the kind of testing you’re getting.
The accuracy of a CLIA waived test cup is so good though that the added cost isn’t justified in most cases. When it comes to a home drug test vs. a lab drug test, in most cases a home drug test is the right tool for the job. Laboratory drug tests are always available though if you need a confirmation, need the presence of drugs quantified or need the most accurate option. The cost of most drug tests is so little that they make a great option for a transport container, so even if you opt to have all drug tests sent to a lab you could have an immediate presumptive result with a drug test cup.
For most uses a home drug test is the best option considering price, accuracy, purpose and immediacy.
When parents and employers purchase drug tests they usually recognize the abbreviations for common illicit drugs such as THC for Marijuana. It is common for one or two abbreviations to stump them.
What is MTD on a Drug Test?
MTD stands for Methadone. Methadone (MTD) is an opioid originally developed as a treatment for pain during World War II by German scientists Gustav Ehrhart and Max Brockmuhl. It was developed as part of a program aimed at easing the demand on the raw materials used in morphine production.
Originally patented under the trade name Dolophine, Methadone (MTD) is still used as a maintenance pain reliever often prescribed in conjunction with other opioids for breakthrough pain. It is thought to be more effective against neuropathic pain and takes longer to build a tolerance to because of its inactivity on the NMDA receptor.
Since the 1970s Methadone (MTD) has been used in detoxification and opiate maintenance programs.
The half life and effects of Methadone (MTD) are significantly longer than other opioids. Persons addicted to heroin or other opiate based painkillers can often substitute Methadone and live productive and fulfilling lives.
Methadone (MTD) is widely used as a detox drug in hospitals. Some Medical Doctors prefer Morphine because Methadone’s withdrawal symptoms are protracted and it’s sometimes harder on the patient. Methadone maintenance programs are controversial, but almost all patients that are successful in a maintenance program say that it has dramatically improved their life.
Methadone (MTD) is a schedule II drug in the United States.
Methadone (MTD) Test Detection Time
In a presumptive urine drug screen the detection time for Methadone can vary from 3-9 days depending on use and the patient’s metabolism.
Side Effects of Methadone
Dizziness or fainting
Chronic fatigue, sleepiness and exhaustion
Sleep problems such as drowsiness,trouble falling asleep (Insomnia),and trouble staying asleep
Nausea and vomiting
Low blood pressure
Hallucinations or confusion
Elevated Heart Rate
Abnormal heart rhythms
Slow or shallow breathing
Loss of appetite
Swelling of the hands, arms, feet, and legs
As a drug used in maintenance programs Methadone (MTD) is often prescribed in high dosages and is mixed with water by the dispensing clinic. There have been several instances of children being poisoned by consuming medicine that was meant for their parent.
Methadone can also be prescribed as a liquid. Larger Methadone clinics dispense flavored liquid that is similar to a dose of cough syrup.
Nicholson, AB. October 2007. “Methadone For Cancer Pain”
Why do employers drug test applicants? Even though the benefits are obvious to most, job seekers often ask us about the reasons drug testing has become ubiquitous. Here are 11 benefits employers and employees gain from drug testing.
At the end of the day running a business is about making money. It boils down to taking raw materials, adding labor and creating a marketable product that people want. Anything a company can do to increase the amount of work that is completed in the same amount of time will increase profits.
According to the National Safety Council workers with a substance abuse disorder miss 50% more days than average workers, and workers with pain medication use disorder miss 300% more days.
In extreme cases opiate users will sleep on the job. Drug use makes employees inconsistent at best, and downright dangerous and counterproductive in some cases.
An employee that uses drugs will often use on the job. Their breaks are longer and they take longer to regain focus when returning. You also need to contend with the possibility of days when the employee has taken too much drugs and days when they are suffering withdrawal. Most recovering drug addicts admit that withdrawal made them useless at work. Employees that have a prescription for a narcotic drug avoid many of the ways drug use can affect production, but are still subject to negative impacts caused by the effects of the drug.
Opioids can impair thinking and reaction time. Marijuana has been proven to affect reaction time and short term memory. Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine affect self awareness and risk analysis. All drugs affect an individual’s capacity for judgement.
Some employers drug test because they have to. Many insurance companies will not even sell insurance to an organization that doesn’t have an employee drug use policy in place. Some types of insurance offer a discount for organizations that have a strict and extensive policy regarding employee drug use.
Anyone company that receives a federal grant or is contracted by the federal government is required to maintain a drug free workplace which is outlined in the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Several states offer a discount on workers compensation premiums to companies that maintain the same guidelines. These States are:
State Discounts for A Drug-Free Work Place
As of October 2018, 13 states had laws that provide a discount on workers compensation insurance to employers that implement a drug-free workplace.
Alabama codes §25-5-330 – §25-5-340 provides a five percent discount to employers that establish a drug-free workplace.
Arkansas code §11-14-101-112, employers with drug-free workplace programs may qualify for a five percent discount on workers’ compensation premiums.
Florida State code §440.102 provides a five percent reduction in premiums to employers that implement and maintain an insurer-certified drug-free workplace program in accordance with the standards set forth in the Act.
Georgia §33-9-40.2 & §34-9-412 provides a 7.5 percent discount on workers compensation premiums to employers that have implemented a drug-free workplace program that is certified by the state Board of Workers’ Compensation. Employers must submit their certificate to their insurer annually.
Idaho Sections 72-1701 through 72-1716 of the Idaho code provide that public employers who conduct drug and alcohol testing of all current and prospective employees shall qualify for and may be granted an employer Workers’ Compensation premium reduction.
Kentucky State regulations 803 KAR 25.280 allow employers that implement a drug-free workplace program a 5% reduction of their insurance premium.
Mississippi Under Mississippi Code, Sections 71-3-201 through 71-3-225, employers that establish a drug-free workplace program may submit an application to their insurer for a 5 percent reduction in their workers’ compensation premium.
Ohio Program established via O.A.C. 4123-17-58. Employers may enroll in the Drug-Free Safety Program offered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Employers that fulfill the requirements may receive a discount of four to seven percent on their workers compensation premium.
New York Part 60 of Sect. 134 of WC created the Workplace Safety and Loss Prevention Incentive Program. Employers with an experience modifier of less than 1.30 and an annual WC premium of at least $5,000 are eligible for a voluntary program. They may receive a separate credit (typically 2%) for each of the following: safety, return-to-work, and drug and alcohol prevention.
South Carolina §38-73-500 provides 5 percent discount on workers compensation premiums to employers that voluntarily establish a drug-free workplace program.
Tennessee State codes §50-9-101 to §50-9-114 provide a 5 percent discount on premiums if employers establish a drug-free workplace program as outlined in the law.
Virginia §65.2-813.2 provides a 5 percent premium discount for employers who institute a drug-free workplace program. The program must satisfy requirements established by the insurer.
Wyoming Under §27-14-201, employers that implement a drug-testing program may qualify for a base rate discount up to 10%. This program is offered by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.
With the increased adoption of social media customers are quicker than ever to emotionally lash out at a company in an online review for even the smallest offense. People getting fired for a single tweet has become an everyday occurrence.
Every employee is a reflection of the business they work for. When an employee shows themselves to be insensitive or unaware the public accuses their employer of the same charge.
The same associations apply to employees on drugs. Even employees that hide their drug use very well on the job may be more open in their private lives. A single employee that presents a persona of drug use can make everyone that meets them or views their social media associate that persona with their employer.
Illegal drug use doesn’t need a whistleblower. It was the Santa Cruz county coroner that shed light on the culture of drug use in Silicon Valley when Google executive Timothy Hayes died from a heroin overdose in 2014. As reporters probed colleagues and employees at other tech companies they found that hard drug use (including methamphetamine and heroin) was above average and drug testing was almost non-existent in Silicon Valley.
It is more critical than ever for businesses to brand themselves as a positive contributor to their community. In most cases any association with drug use suggests negative connotations that are easily attached to a brand, but very difficult to address.
It’s important to stay compassionate and give employees a chance to address their problems. A great example of a drug addict cleaning up their act and enjoying positive PR is Robert Downey Jr. After a few episodes of bad press Robert went into rehab, came our clean and went on to star in one of the most profitable movie franchises ever. A community focused company makes encouraging positive behavior and compassion part of their mission.
Encourage Drug Users to Seek Help
Even though substance abuse can be a big problem for employers, employees that are in recovery miss fewer days than average workers and have a 21% lower turnover rate. Gainful employment at a company that drug tests is one of the biggest incentives for drug users to get clean.
Since the incentive to get clean is tied so closely to employment, this is an opportunity for businesses to give back to the communities they serve. Identifying drug use through testing doesn’t have to be all about the benefits for the business. Even though recovery is hard and it takes most addicts several attempts and a strong will to succeed, instigating a successful recovery is a very rewarding part of drug-free-workplace policy.
Most reputable companies offer employees that fail a drug test the opportunity to attend an in-patient program. Most employer insurance plans do pay for in patient treatment, and since the Affordable Care Act all drug treatment programs are supposed to be covered by insurance.
As I mentioned before the promise of secure gainful employment is one of the biggest incentives for drug users to get clean. It’s also the biggest incentive for drug users to stay clean.
Most of the recovered addicts we have met through this business used getting a job as their first step forward in recovery. This led to many starting families, adopting hobbies and making new friends. At some point the idea of losing your income is worse than avoiding drug use and many addicts fall into a normal routine.
Companies associated with addiction treatment and rehabilitation are especially known for having great success hiring recovering addicts. Since recovering addicts miss less work and are more likely to stay loyal to a company, this could be as self serving a reason as it is an altruistic one.
Joe Arndt, Vice President of Delta Lighting, has been recruiting recovering addicts for several years. When asked why he said, “They’re tremendously loyal to us, and they just work harder because they realize that they don’t necessarily have a lot of other options which is kind of sad,”.
“They’re tremendously loyal to us, and they just work harder because they realize that they don’t necessarily have a lot of other options which is kind of sad,”
-Joe Arndt, VP of Delta Lighting on hiring addicts in recovery
Despite the fact that many studies show recovering addicts make better employees and several initiatives developed to help those in recovery find a job, the unemployment rate of drug addicts in recovery is approximately twice as high as the national unemployment rate.
Healthcare costs for substance abuse treatment programs were about $35 billion in 2015. Another $85 billion is spent treating illness, injuries and infections related to substance abuse. Employers that offer health insurance will almost definitely pay higher premiums even if their employees do not report substance abuse.
The cost of retraining the least skilled employee is often tens of thousands of dollars. With drug users having more absences, getting in more accidents and being less productive in general companies often find themselves in an endless cycle of replacing people if they cannot weed out applicants that use drugs during the hiring process.
When you start to add up productivity losses, higher workers comp and insurance premiums, employee absences, higher healthcare costs and the cost of on site incidents, it’s hard to believe an employer can afford not to drug test their employees.
A positive drug test can turn a common workplace accident into costly negligence lawsuit. Negligent hiring and retention lawsuits are becoming more common and judges are more frequently ruling against employers. Plaintiffs prefer to file against a corporation or small business that has deeper pockets and lawyers are more likely to present the weaker case with the hopes of getting a bigger settlement.
As previously mentioned, drug users are 3.6 times more likely to injure themselves or others and 5 times more likely to file a workers compensation claim. OSHA has deemed post injury drug testing to be retaliatory in nature and it can expose a company to worker’s compensation retaliation tort claims, so it is important to identify and address the possibility before it becomes a reality.
A few examples of lawsuits that found the company responsible for the drug or alcohol use of their employees:
Chesterman v. Barmon: The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that an employer’s liability for the criminal actions of an employee who was taking mescaline and amphetamines was a question for the jury to decide.
Otis Engineering Corp. v. Clark: A drunk machine operator was sent home by his employer. On the way home he caused an automobile accident killing himself and two occupants of another car. The Texas Supreme Court held the employer liable.
Brockett v. Kitchen Boyd Motor Co.: An employee left an office Christmas party after having too much to drink. The employee caused an automobile accident and the employer was held liable for injuries suffered by third parties.
The goal of post accident drug testing is to find the truth and either exonerate or convict the person involved in the accident. Regardless of the circumstances a positive drug test can affect a company’s liability to an employee that is injured on the job.
A positive drug screen is also grounds for termination in most states. Most companies will try and avoid having a claim on their unemployment insurance if possible and a positive drug screen is almost iron clad.
It’s important to stay educated on drug tests and their admissibility in court if you plan on using results for more than coercing an employee to resign on their own. It’s also important to understand the legal guidance for drug testing in the workplace.
For instance OSHA recently issued a memorandum on workplace safety incentives and post accident drug testing. Their guidance is primarily meant to keep employee drug testing consistent and avoid any type of unfair targeting. For post accident drug testing
“Post-incident drug testing should be conducted consistently on any employee whose conduct may have contributed to the accident, and not merely the employee who was injured in an accident.”
So during an investigation of a fork-lift driver hitting another employee both employees should be drug tested and not just the driver.
Improve Work Environment
Theft, crime and violence all increase with levels of employee drug use. Company morale drops quickly when a co worker that has a substance abuse problem isn’t doing as much work, isn’t coming in on time and isn’t being disciplined for it.
Drug use is often a major aspect of a user’s life. Thoughts of getting drugs and using drugs are frequently on their mind even at times when they should be focused on their work.
It’s not fair to other employees that drug addicted co workers use up more of a company’s resources. It’s also not fair that an employee would need to worry about her personal belongings being stolen at work because a co-worker is feeding their drug habit.
It’s important to consider company culture when drafting drug testing policies. Some companies have experienced pushback and negative reactions when instituting company wide drug testing policies.
Some people see it as an invasion of their privacy. Studies have shown that when jobs are more dangerous employees are more open and even supportive of strict drug testing policies. Whether drug testing aligns with employees’ political stance, everyone wants a safer work environment, higher morale and peace of mind not having to worry about thievery and other drug related property crimes at work.
Avoid Extreme Issues That Cause Problems on All Levels
Some incidents that could have been entirely avoided by drug testing have such a high cost that they’re hard to classify in this list. For instance in 2014 a McDonald’s employee was arrested for selling heroin in Happy Meals. The employee would include a bag of heroin in the happy meal box if a customer said “I’d like to order a toy” when placing their order. Besides the lost revenue from an employee running an illegal drug dealing operation out the restaurant instead of working, besides the obvious safety issues associated with putting hard drugs in a meal designed for children, you cannot create a fictional headline more damming from a public relations perspective.
Even though a drug test may not have identified the criminal, it would have likely uncovered widespread drug use among the staff. Other employees had to have been aware of the scheme and more than likely were given drugs to ignore it.
In another episode a customer is suing McDonalds after he ingested a soft drink spiked with Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is widely prescribed as a maintenance drug. A post accident drug test of the staff would have likely found the culprit.
The recent Netflix documentary “How to Fix a Drug Scandal” tells the story of Sonja Farak, a lab chemist that was found to be stealing drugs and getting high at work. In this case her actions led to 24,000 cases being overturned by the state of Massachusetts. The total costs and repercussions associated with this example cannot be measured. It could have all been avoided with a $2.50 12 panel drug test.
It’s even more astonishing that the state of Massachusetts had just dealt with a similar issue. Annie Dookhan had faked test results and adulterated others in a bid to win over her superiors. The state’s entire policy should have been revised and the most obvious tactic, random drug testing employees, should have been added.
So why do employers drug test?
Considering all the disadvantages and damages that are likely to be caused by employee drug use and considering the obstacles involved with reacting to a drug related problem in the workplace it should be clear why employers drug test their employees. Any business that does not currently have policies addressing employee drug use should start planning the implementation of pre-employment and random drug testing immediately. We are happy to help readers with their plans and answer questions about our products and the industry. Feel free to contact us for additional information.
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.
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.
Constricted or dilated pupils
Involuntary or rapid eye movement
Avoiding eye contact
Watery or dry 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. It isn’t normal for someone to wear a jacket on hot summer days, wear a wrist band around their elbow or have makeup on their arm.
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 movements are 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
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.