Can You Get a False Positive Drug Test?

Most individuals will have gone through a drug test at least once in their lifetime. Drug testing is often done when applying for employment, especially for positions that may involve federal transportation, airline industries and pilots, bus drivers, trucker drivers, railways, hospitals, and other workplaces where public safety is of the utmost importance.

However, besides just for safety, workplace drug testing is now common in general for many U.S. employers to lessen the impact of drug abuse, safety concerns, and low productivity in the workplace.

Can You Get a False Positive Drug Test?

How Does Drug Testing Work?

Drug testing is the evaluation of a urine, blood, or another type of biological sample to determine if the person has been using any drugs that are against that workplace’s policy or to determine if there may be a situation to be aware of. Many circumstances may require drug testing, which often includes:

  • Pre-employment drug screening test or random, work-related drug testing to identify on-the-job drug abuse.
  • College or professional athletic drug testing.
  • Post-accident drug testing – a vehicular or on-the-job accident that may have involved human error and resulted in casualties or property damage.
  • Safety-related drug testing – if an employee’s job could lead to safety issues if the judgment or physical ability were impaired.

Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in the U.S. The Surgeon General, as reported by NIDA, states that alcohol and drug abuse, including tobacco, costs the economy over $740 billion per year. Costs are related to crime, lost work productivity, and health care.

We hear “false positive” as a defense from professional athletes or repeated drug users all the time when it comes to drug screens but unexpected results on drug tests do happen.

What is a False Positive Drug Test?

A drug screen tests for the presence of certain illegal drugs and commonly abused prescription medications. A false positive means that the test has detected the presence of these substances in your body when you haven’t taken them.

You could be affected by a false positive at any time in your life; whether you’re applying for a job, playing sports, or participating in a drug rehabilitation program. Here are several common medications, prescription and over-the-counter, that can lead to a false-positive result on a drug screen.

Drugs That Can Cause False Positives 

If you’ve taken one of these medications and had what you believe is a false positive test, speak to the employer and explain the issue and also speak with your healthcare provider to see if you can stop taking the medication or cut back on it. Then ask to repeat the test to confirm.

Dextromethorphan – Dextromethorphan is an active ingredient in Robitussin, Delsym, and other over-the-counter cough suppressants. If you’ve taken medication with dextromethorphan in it, your drug screen may be positive for opiates and PCP.

Diltiazem – Diltiazem (Cardizem) is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) or to slow your heart rate if you have atrial fibrillation. If you’re taking diltiazem, your urine drug screen may test as a false positive for LSD.

Diphenhydramine – Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine found in allergy medications like Benadryl and sleep aids like Tylenol PM and Advil PM. If you’ve taken diphenhydramine, your drug screen may show a positive result for opiates, methadone, or PCP.

Pseudoephedrine – Used for sinus and nasal congestion like Sudafed, pseudoephedrine can be the cause of false-positive tests for amphetamine or methamphetamine.

NSAIDs – Ibuprofen, which is Motrin or Advil, and naproxen which is Aleve, are two very common over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). If you’ve taken either of these, your urine screen may test positive for barbiturates or THC. Ibuprofen may also show a false positive for PCP.

Get Help at Allure Detox

If you or your loved ones are suffering from an addiction, let Allure Detox get you started on the right path. Allure Detox can help. We are a comfortable and evidence-based drug and alcohol detox in West Palm Beach, Florida. We can free you or your loved one from the physical symptoms of addiction and start you on the path to recovery.

We offer detox from drugs and alcohol on a medical basis so that you can safely resume the life you once lived, the life you thought was lost forever. Addicts emerge from Allure Detox healthy, sane, and prepared for a lifetime of recovery. Please contact us today if you or someone you love is suffering the pain of addiction.