4.4.6 Mandatory Drug Testing

Mandatory Drug Testing #

Mandatory drug testing is not limited to law enforcement situations. Increasingly it is being used by employers, and not only with respect to roles which have health and safety implications.

It is a practice which is open to misuse, and one which again tends to present drug use as a criminal rather than a health issue. In many scenarios it is a serious threat to privacy, and to civil and human rights. Whilst the scale and gravity of this will differ from nation to nation, there is little doubt that it is now an escalating global problem.


For the drug user the spectre of drug testing raises a number of fundamental questions: How long does evidence of drug use stay in the system? Will the type of test being used influence the results? How do different drugs compare in terms of detection times?

There are a lot of variables here, relating to all sorts of issues, including your use of the drug (e.g. frequency and RoA) and your personal physiology. In addition, I found enormous discrepancies between different data sources: there simply wasn’t a universally agreed norm for some of these figures.

For these reasons I almost omitted this segment from the book. Its inclusion therefore comes with a waiver: it provides only the broadest of indications and it should not be taken as gospel. If drug testing is a particularly significant issue for you, make sure that you further research the specific drug in question.

Alcohol 10-12 Hours 3-5 Days 1-5 Days Up to 90 Days
Amphetamine 3 Days 1-3 Days 3 Days Up to 90 Days
Benzodiazepines 3 Days 1-6 Weeks 1-10 Days Up to 90 Days
Cannabis* Up to 7 Days 1-90 Days 1-10 Days Up to 90 Days
Cocaine 1-2 Days 2-5 Days Up to 36 hours Up to 90 Days
Heroin 12 Hours 3-4 Days 1-2 Days Up to 90 Days
Ketamine** Up to 14 Days 3-5 Days 1-8 Days Up to 90 Days
Methamphetamine 1-3 Days 2-8 Days 1-3 Days Up to 90 Days
MDMA 1-2 Days 3-4 Days 1-3 Days Up to 90 Days
LSD 2-3 Hours 1-3 Days 1-2 Days Up to 4 Days

* Frequency of use is a major factor with some figures being much shorter for occasional users.
** These figures were particularly variable, with many sources claiming much shorter periods.


The Internet is awash with ideas on how to pass a drug test: other than by not using drugs. A lot of these are blatantly flawed, but others may have merit. Here I will simply list some current information and outline a number of the more credible suggestions.

At the outset it is important to consider the context of the drug test. Usually this will be related to employment or to a court case (or other judicial scenario). These two situations will present different challenges. For example, for the latter you are more likely to be observed whilst providing a urine sample.

It is important to determine, in advance, as much about the testing procedure as you are able; perhaps by asking colleagues or seeking advice from appropriate third parties. This can help you to formulate your strategy and approach, and to decide how to proceed (based possibly on what you believe you can get away with).

I should point out here, however, that in some places a number of these strategies might be considered to constitute fraud, and you might be committing a criminal offence if you follow them. Do your homework on these issues prior to proceeding down any particular path.

Generally, the options available will depend upon the type of test (urine, blood, saliva, hair). Nevertheless, there are a couple of general steps which apply to them all, and which are very straight forward.

The first is that you can abstain from drugs from the moment you know that you are going to be tested. From this point you can also start to detox naturally, even if this means just drinking plenty of water every day, to flush your system. Exercising and being active will also help, although don’t do too much on the day of the test or the day before. Finally, eat healthily, don’t diet, and don’t skip breakfast.

The second is to record a list of all your legitimate medications to submit to the testing facility. As some prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and some herbal remedies, can cause a false positive, it is sensible to provide details of genuine medical use prior to taking the test.

The most commonly cited approaches for each type of test are as follows:


These are presently the most widely used. You will be required to submit a sample of your urine, which can usually be produced privately; but not always.

The tests themselves vary. However, the most popular is currently the

5-Panel Urine Test. This usually detects the following drugs: cannabis; cocaine; opiates; PCP; amphetamines. More stringent is the 10-Panel Urine Test, which typically also includes: benzodiazepines; barbiturates; MDMA; various prescription drugs (e.g. oxycodone and methadone); methaqualone. Added to this may be other drugs, like alcohol.

If you can determine which drugs are to be targeted, clearly these are the ones to address with your countermeasures, and at the very least, to avoid using in the interim.

Methods sometimes used to influence the result of a urine test include the following:

Use of Masking Agents #

This is basically the trick of adding something (e.g. a commercial product) to your sample before handing it over. Apparently these additives used to work well, but now are often detected, and tend to result in an automatic failure. If you are thinking of using this approach do your homework first.

Dilution #

Dilution is the act of adding fluid (e.g. water) to your sample, or alternatively, drinking a lot of water prior to the test. However, this too is widely recognized by labs, some of which do check for it. Note also that heavy dilution changes the colour of the urine to clear, which makes it pretty obvious that an attempt has been made to subvert the result. Some detoxifiers (see below) contain colorants to help address this.

A better approach may be pre-hydration. Urine will have its highest drug concentration early in the morning, so drinking a few cups of water may help to flush this a little, and enable you to urinate naturally prior to doing so for the test itself.

Use of Detoxifiers #

Drug test detoxifiers are often used in conjunction with dilution. These change the urine composition, and are consumed prior to the test. I encountered multiple claims that they can be effective, although again there is some risk that the lab may detect them, or not: this is a non-static relationship, with suppliers frequently updating their formulas to try to beat detection techniques.

It’s your call, but it is worth noting that not all detoxifiers are the same, and some have been reviewed side-by-side for their comparative effectiveness. I would suggest therefore that you research intensively to arm yourself with current information. Detoxifiers are sold in head shops and online.

If you have the luxury of time before the test, you might wish to buy a home testing kit and check how your detoxifier stacks up against it. On the other side of the coin, if a test is likely to be bounced upon you at short notice, it might be a good idea to have a detox agent on standby, if this is your preferred option.

Substitution #

Using someone else’s urine is an obvious temptation, but it may not be as simple as it appears. The first risk is that the substitute urine may also fail the test due to drug use (how well do you know the volunteer?). Another consideration is that urine turns darker as time passes. Then of course there is the issue of getting the urine itself into the facility and actually substituting it.

Premixed and synthetic urine (e.g. powdered) also comes with a risk of detection: labs are generally aware that these are on the market and do look-out for them. Having stated this, there are many claims that some of them do work. Again, it is best to acquire some expertise if you intend to take this route. Investigate carefully.

Another issue which I should point out is that if you are likely to be tested repeatedly over time, there is a possibility that the difference in urine composition between tests might be identified.

One note on temperature: testing staff are not stupid. If you hand over a stone cold sample it is very obvious that it has not come from your body.

A final word on urine tests: don’t celebrate too early… meaning that you shouldn’t head directly for your drug immediately after the test. You may be called back for a re-test, so wait until the test results are confirmed before making assumptions.


For these, about 1.5 inches of hair is normally taken, usually from the head. If you are bald, the sample of hair will be taken from elsewhere.

With this type of test long term use is more likely to be detected than a one-off experiment, although this too could be identified. Also note that very recent drug use may not show up (hence urine and hair tests are sometimes used together).

A 5-Panel Test exists for hair, broadly equating to the urine panel test. There are also extended versions (e.g. 12-Panel) and other drugs may be added.

As the sample is usually taken directly from you, substitution and some of the other methods covered for urine tests will not work. However, there are still a number of frequently cited options which may or may not have merit. Most of these come in the form of specialist detoxification shampoos and rinses.

First and foremost, if you use these make sure that they are safe, and be careful when you wash with them. Note that to enhance the prospects of success you will normally need to use them for some days beforehand, although of course, late is better than never.

Other methods suggested include the use of salicylic acid, white vinegar, laundry detergent and temporary hair dye. If you opt to try these, again be careful whilst using them.

Finally, I have read about people using bleach on their hair and claiming success, frequently when used in combination with a detoxifying shampoo. I would urge some caution here: not just because using bleach on yourself is a risk, but because you don’t want to walk into the workplace (for example) with different coloured hair to usual.

As with other test types, there is a huge market supplying all sorts of commercial products, so check this out if you intend to walk this path.


Given that the saliva sample is likely to be taken there and then, the options to beat this are limited. However, the good news is that most drugs can only be detected in saliva for a few days after use.

The pre-test regime here is fairly obvious. First of all, brush your teeth thoroughly: I mean thoroughly (but not hard enough to cause bleeding), taking in all of your mouth. Using mouthwash and eating can also have a temporary effect, perhaps for 20 or 30 minutes.

Note that regarding the mouthwash, the alcohol content of some brands can sometimes present a risk, depending on the test being used. However, there are specialist drug-toxin mouthwashes on the market which may be a better bet. Oral gum is another product type I have seen suggested.

Again, with this method you can buy a decent quality home testing kit to check whether it works for you (at least using the kit) prior to the event.


Blood testing is clearly the most invasive approach. Given that the sample is taken directly from you by a third party it presents obvious difficulties in terms of manipulating the outcome. However, in addition to the general steps cited at the start of this section, you could try using a high quality drug detoxifier to improve your odds.

Whilst the above may be helpful, it is important to bear in mind that this is a changing landscape and information does become outdated. Also, although it is a mature marketplace and the Internet is your friend (sometimes), be careful: if you are seeking a product don’t plump for the first one that you encounter. Find social media discussions, third party review sites and other sources that will help you to take decisions on an informed and current basis.

Remember too that the only guaranteed way to beat a test is not to engage in drug use for the requisite period beforehand.