A prime example of drug testing subversion occurred in September of 2003 at an Ohio-based nuclear facility. Employees of the facility found samples of a product called “Minuteman” in the trash of the site where candidates for employment are routinely give urine testing. The employees then contacted toxicologists at the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMSHA) who performed additional testing. The toxicologists at SAMSHA informed nuclear site management that Minuteman is a dehydrated drug-free product that, when remixed, can be raised to normal body temperature and substituted for the donor’s urine sample. Management then brought back ten of the job candidates for re-testing. Nine of these candidates failed the test which provided positive results for marijuana use.1
In this instance, alert employees were able to prevent the hiring of candidates who were active drug users. However, in many cases both management and medical professionals are unfamiliar with subversion techniques—or even that such an industry exists. The products this industry produces are meant to either substitute a “dirty” sample for one which will show no illicit drug use or dilute any traces of urine in the tester’s specimen. The efficacy of these products in subverting urine testing arises from the fact that many of the manufacturers are biochemists or toxicologists and understand how to reconstitute the urine sample to hide illicit drug use.
Three Methods of Subverting Drug Testing
A quick Internet-based search will uncover a myriad of methods by which knowledgeable people may subvert drug testing. The three most common strategies are described below.
- Dilution. This is the simplest technique and involves diluting the concentration of illicit drugs in the urine specimen below the level at which a positive result would be reported. In most cases this involves either the addition of toilet or tap water to the sample. Dilution may also be obtained by ingesting a large quantity of water before testing. However, countermeasures have been developed in recent years. Historically, many government and private employers looked only for the concentration of creatinine protein in urine specimens as a signal of dilution. However, taking the lead from the sports industry, more and more employers are using a more comprehensive screen to detect the use of diuretics. Indeed, diuretics such as caffeine are banned in most sports because they can mask evidence of performance enhancing drug use.
- Substitution. A significant disadvantage of private specimen collection is that the donor can readily substitute his or her sample for a “pure” specimen collected from another person. A variety of products are available via the Internet, such as “freese dried” urine which can be remixed and warmed up to normal body temperature and placed in a tube which can easily be hidden in the donor’s clothing. One innovative (if somewhat desperate) job candidate actually emptied his bladder and then catheterised himself by inserting another person’s pure urine—all in the space of the time allocated for urine testing. Another method is to wear a prosthetic penis filled with drug-free urine.
- Adulteration. Also available are products that, when added to “adulterated” urine samples render drug use undetectable and produce negative results. While many of these products do not provide the results advertised, several, such as Urine Luck, are produced by biochemists and toxicologists who possess strong knowledge of drug testing methods and technology so that their products do mask the presence of illicit substances. Toxicologists at SAMSHA routinely purchase such products and test them for effectiveness. If they actually work and produce a negative result, scientists then perform further testing and analysis to determine their chemical composition and develop screens for each chemical used.
While workplace drug testing has reduced the incidence of illicit drug use in the workplace, it is clear that such testing remains highly susceptible to subversive strategies employed by drug users who wish to hide their continuing drug use from potential employers. It is therefore prudent to use caution in interpreting negative results. Perhaps the most effective strategy is to implement an unannounced second testing session during the first thirty days of employment.
CMM Technology continues to supply great drug testing products, such as our Lion Alcoblow breathalyser devices, along with our Oraline and Medix drug tests. Our products are among the finest on the market today and our experts will be happy to explain the technology behind them and how to implement countermeasure to abort any subversive practices.. Contact us today: (+61) 1300 79 70 30.
1. “The Subversion of Urine Drug Testing.” MinnesotaMedicone.com N.p., n.d. Web. August 2010. http://www.minnesotamedicine.com/tabid/3533/Default.aspx.