What Can Cause a False Positive on Drug Test?

False Positive on Drug Test

Drug tests are commonly used to detect the presence of illegal drugs or prescription medications in a person’s system. However, these tests are not always accurate, and false positive on drug test can occur for a variety of reasons.

Moreover, many over-the-counter medications can cause some to fail a drug test on the basis of false-positives.  The consequences of failing a drug screening for many can be quite severe.

The Severity of Testing Positive

Depending on the reason one is required to submit a drug test, testing positive for any number of substances could mean dismissal, termination, incarceration, or legal disciplinary action. Needless to say, when someone goes through an experience of facing false-positive test results, this can prove disconcerting.

Drug test administrators should likely be aware of the inevitability of a false-positive when screening a large number of candidates.  Still, positive test results can happen.  How does one prepare for a false-positive reading, and how should you proceed with disputing your test results?

Understand Your Drug Test Before the Screening Process

For those who are concerned that they may receive a false-positive test result on their drug screening, it’s important to understand how a basic drug test works.

Urine Drug Tests are one of the most commonly used in drug screening because of the ease of use, accuracy, and fast results.  In fact, most test results from a urine test can be viewed in as little as 5 minutes.

Drug Testing Strips

Urine Drug Tests utilize testing strips that are placed in the urine specimen. If the urine specimen contains any trace of the substances or metabolites meant to be detected, the strip will go through a reaction process and lines will appear visibly on the strip indicating either a positive, negative, or an invalid reading.

Drug Testing Cups

Drug Test Cups work similarly.  The test cup contains several drug testing strips, providing indicated results on multiple substances. Because a drug test cup can contain several different test strips, administrators can customize their drug test to their desired specificity.

A rehab clinic, for example, may want to detect Methamphetamines in their patients, and perhaps Opioids as well.  This may be due to the fact that there may be a localized trend of abusing those substances.  Or perhaps the individual being tested may be undergoing a verification of sobriety; especially if they are recently in recovery.

With these advanced options in drug testing,  any administrator can now test for the desired substances they wish to detect in their patients.  How many drugs can be detected within a single drug test?

How Many Drugs Does a Test Cup Detect?

We provide drug testing cups that detect up to 14 different substances, with 14 different testing strips (or panels).  This is known as the 14 panel drug test.  Although it’s more common to have an administrator use a 12-panel drug test or even a 6-panel drug test, it’s important to know what drugs are detected during these screenings.

12 Panel Drug tests are the most commonly used urine drug tests.  The cup contained 12 panels, each panel housing a testing strip – so 12 individual drugs are detected within this particular test.  The drugs that are detected are:

Drugs Detected on a 12 Panel Urine Drug Test

  • Amphetamine
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Buprenorphine
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana
  • Methadone
  •  Opiates/Morphine
  •  Oxycodone
  •  Methamphetamine
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants

Using the Information

If someone has familiarized themselves with the drug screening process as well as the type of drug test that will be used, it’s important to have a conversation with both a primary care physician as well as the drug test administrator.  Understand that based on certain medications consumed, it’s metabolites or otherwise, may result in a false-positive.

Most medical professionals and those who administer drug tests are aware of this.  This is why much attention is paid to observing the cutoff levels.  Each drug has a determined concentration level.

When one takes a drug test and the results are below the indicated level for that substance, the test will result in a negative reading.

However,  the concentration exceeds the cutoff level, then the test will read a positive result.  Every drug has a different cutoff level and each substance has different standards set in place.

False Positive on Drug Test

What Are Some Drugs That Could Cause False-Positives?

If there is a concern about receiving a false-positive test result, it may be worth reevaluating any substances consumed recently.  What are some drugs or medications that may cause a false positive result?

Dextromethorphan – Dextromethorphan is the main ingredient in many over the counter medications such as Robitussin.  It has antitussive and cough-suppressing properties when taken in recommended small dosage.  Though further study is needed, there have been reports of individuals receiving false-positives for both Opioids and PCP

Metformin – This is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for type 2 diabetes.  This drug is taken orally and recommended with meals.  Takin this medication can cause a positive result in a drug screening for Methamphetamine.

Methylphenidate – One of the most common Methylphenidates, Ritalin, is a stimulant widely used to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  This drug has been known to cause a positive reading in drug screenings for both Methamphetamine and LSD. 

Take the Steps to be Prepared

Though there are many medications, both over-the-counter and prescribed that have been known to occasionally cause false-positives on a drug test, the best way to be prepared is to inform yourself on the process and speak to your pharmacologist or healthcare provider in order to determine the likelihood of the outcome.

It’s important to understand that every situation is different, and everyone metabolizes differently too. Considering these aspects will help you stay prepared during the screening process.

We’re  Here to Help!

12 Panel Now provides the nation’s most affordable Drug Testing Supplies, including Drug Testing Cups and Strips both for personal, and medical use.  Our selection of Urine Drug Testing cups is one of the nations most affordable and reliable. Urine Drug Tests only take minutes to perform and evaluate.