Setting the record straight on drugs and drug testing
There are lots of urban legends, myths, and misconceptions about drugs and drug testing… so let’s get right to it and see which are true and which are not.
If I eat a poppy seed bagel, is it possible that I will fail my drug test?
There actually is a bit of truth to this myth. Poppy seeds are from the opiate family and when you eat them, your body does produce the same metabolite as someone who uses heroin or codeine. But the amount of the metabolite that is produced from a poppy seed or hundreds of poppy seeds is significantly lower than heroin.
When drug testing first became required by the DOT in 1988, DOT had a cutoff level for opiates set at 300ng. That cutoff level did result in several false positive drug tests. Since then, the DOT has upped the cutoff level to 2000ng.
In order to get that high of an opiate positive on a drug test, you’d need to eat a quarter cup of poppy seeds alone, which is not a normal amount.
If I’m at a party where people are smoking dope, will I test positive on my drug test?
It’s not likely. You will ingest THC, but the levels that will show up in your system are not likely to be over the threshold limits that the DOT sets or your company sets. The DOT limits for THC are rather forgiving, they are set at 50ng.
It takes 30 days or longer for marijuana to leave your system.
This has some truth to it, in terms of urine testing. Habitual marijuana users do store THC in their bodies longer and it can take 30 days of refraining from smoking (or longer) for them to get a negative drug test.
However, if you have an employee who claims to have smoked very rarely, it should be out of their system within a week or two at the most. One smoking event will be out of the donor’s urine within a couple of days.
For saliva testing, THC will only last a couple days and sometimes just a few hours. Hair testing will only show up about 30 percent of the time, regardless of the amount of use. Additionally, marijuana will show up in hair for 90 days (as with all substances in hair testing) and generally will not show up for casual users.
If you’re diabetic, you can test positive for your alcohol test even if you haven’t been drinking.
If you are taking the test on a breath alcohol machine that has been approved by the NHTSA, then this is completely false. Breath alcohol machines can decipher the difference between ethyl alcohol (from drinking alcohol) and isopropyl alcohol (from breaking down sugars in the body).
If you’re taking a urine alcohol test, the initial screen test on a diabetic may come up positive for alcohol, but when further testing is done for conformation, the labs will look for sugars present in the urine to decipher if the alcohol is from ethyl or isopropyl from sugars.