Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 8/16/2021
How to Pass a Drug Test?
Navigating the job market is hard enough in normal circumstances. That stress magnifies when you have to figure out how to pass a drug test. While it feels great to make it past the first stage of the hiring process, many companies require that you be sober before they hire you.
You may ask yourself, why should a company care about what I do in my free time? With drugs like marijuana being legal in some states yet illegal on a federal level, the rules can seem even more tricky. Here we will discuss why drug tests exist and how to pass them. But if you or a loved one are having recurring problems with drug use and employment, it may be time to consider treatment. Give us a call now at (888) 906-0952, and we can help you find professionals equipped to help you on your journey.
Find out more about what you can do to handle drug testing.
- Why Do Employers Drug Test?
- What Happens During a Drug Test?
- How to Pass a Drug Test
- Myths About Drug Testing
- There Are No Shortcuts
- Achieving Sobriety
Why Do Employers Drug Test?
Before looking at how to pass a drug test, it is important to understand why employers drug test in the first place. Drug testing occurs for more than just employment purposes. Sports organizations, schools, and hospitals all may want to check for drug use. Drug tests vary depending on the substance being tested for. In general, these institutions want to see what specimens show up in your results, and from there, they determine whether or not they want to work with you.
Your body, your business, right? Not quite. Let’s take a look at the thought processes that lead employers to a drug test. The majority of the reason employers ensure their potential employees can pass a drug test is for long-term workplace conditions. According to DrugAbuse.gov, studies have shown that substance users are more likely to:
- Change jobs frequently.
- Be late to or absent from work.
- Have low productivity.
- Be involved in a workplace accident and potentially harm others.
- File a workers’ compensation claim.
What this study shows is that, for employers, a drug-free workplace is far less risky. It also tends to be more productive. Furthermore, drug-free workplaces benefit both the employer and employee by lowering the risk of on-the-job accidents. Many jobs offer incentives and drug-free programs, and by drug testing, many employers have found they can improve overall company morale.
As discussed, drug testing allows institutions to narrow down their candidates further and ensures a safer workplace for all. Now, If you haven’t been in this situation before, let us dig into what happens during a drug test.
What Happens During a Drug Test?
Now, what exactly happens during a drug test? Drug testing methods depend on the type of substance your boss is looking for, and the process is not something they usually break down during the interview. The standard drug test employers look for requires a simple urine sample. This is done by sanitarily collecting your pee. Other forms of testing include:
- Blood testing: this is a far less common method than urine sampling. Blood tests are less frequently used because it takes longer to detect drugs, and not all drugs show up. One example is that it can take over a month for marijuana to stop showing up in a urine sample, whereas with a blood test, it would stop showing up after about a day. Despite this, some employers may choose to use blood tests anyway because they are harder to cheat than urine tests.
- Hair Analysis: drug testing through hair analysis is where lab collectors use a sample of your hair. Like the blood test, hair testing is relatively rare. The hair analysis results are not as reliable, even though they can detect leftover drugs for up to a year. Surprisingly, hair analysis works by using hair from almost any part of the body at least an inch in length.
- Saliva testing: these tests are done by swabbing the inside of your cheeks and lips. Depending on the specific test, you may have to hold the swab in your mouth for a certain time. The downfall of saliva testing is that it’s unreliable for spotting some drugs. For a positive result, you would have had to use the drug fairly recently.
Before testing, be sure to let the providers know of any prescription drugs, medicines, or supplements you are currently on.
How to Pass a Drug Test
Pop quiz: you have to abstain for how long to pass a drug test? And do you know how to get drugs out of your system? Well, these all are factors in determining how to pass a drug test.
To pass a drug test, you need to be completely detoxed from the drug to not appear on the test. The test can either come back negative, meaning you are good to go, or positive, meaning they found an illicit substance of some kind. The only sure way to avoid a positive result is to be clean, but if your situation is not ideal, you will find it beneficial to know how long drugs stay in your body. Here is a general timeline for common illegal drugs and their stay in the body:
- Marijuana can remain in the body anywhere from 2 days to 84 days
- Cocaine stays in your system from 24 hours up to 4 full days
- Heroin remains in the body for 2 to 4 days
- Alcohol stays in your system anywhere from 6 hours to 4 days
- Opiates stay in the body from 3 days to a week
- Amphetamines last in the body from 3 days to a week
- PCP remains in your system anywhere from 3 days to two weeks
As the above list illustrates, the number of times drugs stay in your system can vary. People attempt to cheat and control results in various ways, including substituting their urine, tampering with samples, or using “quick fix” methods such as detox kits.
If you are tempted to explore these options, you must know that ultimately these “hacks” are not guaranteed and still leave you exposed to serious professional risk. Remember, illegal drug use typically has a ripple effect of consequences. Next, we will explore what happens if you get caught attempting to cheat a drug test and the best method for passing.
Myths About Drug Testing
First, while there are methods that can beat a drug test under some circumstances, there are also a lot of myths surrounding this topic. Believing these myths could cost you your new job.
Myth #1: You can take aspirin, Advil, or Ibuprofen to cheat your marijuana test
While this method was effective at one time, advances in testing have since rendered it useless. Modern medicine has evolved to still pick up an accurate result despite the use of these medications. It is never a good idea to take a bunch of medication in this manner anyway.
Myth #2: Vinegar can speed up the detox process
As we saw earlier, detox is the process your body goes through to get rid of impurities like drugs or alcohol. Many people thought vinegar could accelerate this process, but this idea has no scientific basis.
Myth #3: Bleach can help pass a urine test
This should go without saying but never drink bleach.
Myth #4: Creatine can help achieve a negative result.
Creatine is one of the chemicals used to identify clean urine. Some claim you can raise creatine levels enough to pass a test by taking supplements or eating many types of meat, which is not true.
Myth #5: You can use dog urine as a substitute
By far the oddest of all the myths, this is completely false. The testing center will immediately flag it, and it’s just generally best to leave your animals out of this.
Ultimately, attempting to take shortcuts benefits no one in the long run. Let’s explore the consequences of attempting to cheat a drug test.
There Are No Shortcuts
So, what happens if you do attempt to cheat a drug test? Depending on what the testing is for, cheating a drug test could cost you your time and the opportunity at hand. Tampering with a drug test could land you back in prison, stop you from getting the job, or make you lose the spot on your team.
If you recently quit smoking or drinking, it is understandable to want to ensure that you pass a drug test. Ultimately, though, the only certain approach is to let your body cleanse itself naturally. Drink water and exercise not just to aid in detoxification but to help keep your spirits up as you continue on your journey. The bottom line is that the only guaranteed way to pass a drug test is to be drug-free. If you are struggling with any form of substance abuse, it may be time to ask for help.
Have you already failed a drug test? Are you worried that you cannot control your substance use? Professional treatment can help you ensure that addiction does not strip you of your future. You deserve all the opportunities coming your way, but you have to remember that addiction is a very powerful disease. It would be best if you faced addiction with support from others.
If you face an upcoming drug test and know you’ll fail because of drug use, there are ways to be proactive and potentially save your job. Communicate honestly with employers or leadership about your intention to enter treatment. If you announce that you are leaving for treatment, you may be eligible to keep your job under FMLA laws. If you have a human resources department, you will want to talk to leadership in that department. Let your family know you are looking to make this change, and if you do not have a support system, addiction programs can help you find one.
Drug testing exists for the sole purpose of maintaining positive environments and employee health. Drug tests don’t exist to punish you, nor should you feel ashamed if you have battled substance abuse.
Achieving sobriety will take the stress out of your job search, your relationships, and your life as a whole. When you are ready to take that step, we are here to help you. Give us a call today at (888) 906-0952, and let’s discuss treatment options. Do not let addiction continue to come between you and your best life.
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