The Guidebook to Company Drug Tests
After years of being herded by “The Man,” many Collared Sheep are inevitably coerced into participating in the final indignity: the office drug test.
Advocates for drug testing say the practice increases office safety and employee accountability. However, as opponents like my college roommate Jacob “Steaky” Counts always said: “They’re just trying to ruin my good time!”
Dr. Day Shift is here to give you a quick guide to office drug testing. We will cover the five substances that are recommended for testing by the Department of Health and Human Services: amphetamines, cannabinoids, cocaine, opiates, and phencyclidine.
We will not cover more complicated topics such as “how to aim for the cup.” After all of my years of education and practice, I still get pee on the floor just like you do.
There are multiple biological samples that can be used for drug testing. These include urine, blood, hair, and saliva. The main difference between the sample types is in how long a drug will “stay in your system” and produce a positive result. Drug metabolites will remain in your hair for the longest amount of time, followed by urine and then blood.
How does the test work?
Two types of urine drug screens are commonly used: immunoassay and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. An immunoassay, which uses antibodies to detect the presence of known drugs or drug metabolites, is the most common method for the initial screening process.
Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry is more expensive and acts as the “gold standard” in testing. This technical stuff boils down to a few simple facts. The testing is reliable. If you spend the weekend partying with Lady Gaga and Michael Irvin, then you will be sore for months. Your boss will be the third person to pound you after your positive drug test.
On to the fun part: The Drugs
1. Amphetamines: The Jacked Old Spice Guy
DOUBLE SUN POWER!!! This class of drugs contains methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstacy), dextroamphetamine, and methylphenidate. Legal prescriptions that may produce a positive result include “Adderall” and “Ritalin.” Chemically related compounds such as pseudoephedrine (“Sudafed”) may produce a false-positive result.
These “uppers,” or their metabolites, can be detected in urine at up to 72 hours post-use. They may be detected in hair within 90 days of use, and in blood at up to 12 hours post-use.
2. Cannabinoids: Cheech
What is more American than a little bit of marijuana? As of 2005, it was the most commonly used illicit drug in the Unites States. Urine drug screens are used to detect metabolites of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. THC is highly lipid soluble, so it gets stored in your body’s fat compartments. The high lipid solubility is associated with slow excretion of THC’s metabolites into the urine.
A single use of marijuana can result in a positive urine test up to one week after use. A daily, heavy smoker may produce a positive urine test up to 46 days post-use. Hair tests remain positive up to 90 days after your last smoke session.
3. Cocaine: Patrick Bateman
This powerful powder has been a sidekick for investment bankers, medical students, professional athletes, and people simply looking to take it to the max. Urine drug screens look for the presence of cocaine’s main metabolite, benzoylecgonine.
Urine tests may be positive up to four days after your last bump. Hair tests continue to ruin the party, with results being positive at up to 90 days post-use.
4. Opiates: Requiem for A Dream
Even when she is drugged-out at a private strip-show, Jennifer Connelly is still a mega-babe. This class of drugs contains both prescribed and illicit agents. Some of the big players are morphine, codeine, methadone and heroin.
Metabolites of the different opiates remain in urine for variable times. They may be picked-up in urine drug tests up to four days post-use and in hair tests at up to 90 days.
5. Phencyclidine: Training Day
Wayne Brady didn’t know that you liked to get wet!!! Phencyclidine is an anesthetic that is commonly referred to as “PCP.”
Use of this hallucinogen may produce positive urine test results up to eight days after a single use. Hair tests may remain positive for up to 90 days.
How can I beat my drug test?
To pass a hair test, you may get the bright idea to pull a “Britney Spears” and shave your head. However, hair from any part of your body can be used. Unless you want to get the equivalent of a Brazilian wax from your human resources officer, I would leave the hair alone.
Multiple substances can be added to urine to interfere with the test. These substances include saline eye drops, lemon juice, bleach, and common cleaners. Newer drug tests can detect these agents, in addition to any change in urine pH, specific gravity, color and temperature. Any tampering with the sample may be deemed as a “positive result” by your employer.
Many people attempt to pass a drug screen by massive fluid intake. Over-dilution of a drug test sample by increased fluid intake will be reflected in the specific gravity. They will make you pee again when they can obtain a more concentrated sample.
Hippies will give anecdotal evidence for so-called “systemic cleaners” and “detox shakes.” Although many people claim that these have worked for them, there is no clinical evidence to support this. Save your money.
In this battle of The Shepherd versus The Sheep, The Shepherd holds the edge. The only reliable way to beat a drug test is by abstaining from illicit drug use. Try and stay clean for at least 90 days if you know you are going to take a drug test. Use this time to reconnect with family, volunteer in the community, and read a good book.
You will also need to increase your casual sexual encounters. I’m on day 36, and that is the only thing keeping me sane.