Normal Everyday Things That Can Cause a Positive Drug Screen and What to Do if it Happens to You.

This is one of those things in life where positivity isn’t a good thing. They act as if this is a rare event that happens, whoever “they” are. Probation and parole officers decide the fate of your life over these small tests, yet they don’t seem to understand how many variables can cause it to go wrong. I have personally dealt with this issue in my life, and don’t think I know anyone who has ever had to drug test, that hasn’t had this happen.

I know, I know, most people are probably thinking, “yeah, right it’s a “false positive”, you probably relapsed you druggie”. No though, most people that have this happen to them are actually sober and it’s not an excuse to get “high”.

Sometimes, normal everyday things cause positive drug screens, it happens to perfectly normal people that have never used drugs, and they miss out on their dream job.

Why does this happen though? Has this happened to you recently and what do you do about it?

Of course, it all depends on what you falsely come up for that determines the cause, but I am going to list some possibilities ranging from alcohol all the way to PCP.

Alcohol

Mouthwash

Mouthwash contains ethanol unless you obtain the alcohol-free type, and so do many liquid medications and even vanilla extract. I love chugging that vanilla extract. Yummy.

Ethanol is a simple grain form of alcohol, and tests have become advanced enough to be able to detect even the smallest amounts.

What to do?

If you ate or drank any of the above you could show positive for alcohol, so make sure to avoid these items the whole day before going to a screen that includes alcohol.

Hand sanitizer.

Do you use hand sanitizer on a regular basis to keep germs at bay? I know I do, I have a cute little hand sanitizer attached to almost every bag I own. It can actually absorb through the skin though, get into the bloodstream, and cause a false positive.

What to do?

Once again, try to avoid any products that contain alcohol or it’s counterparts at least 18 hours before any test.

Amphetamines/ Methamphetamines

Diet Pills.

If you were using diet pills recently to curb appetite for weight loss then that may be the reason you had a positive on a drug screen. Phentermine is a popular weight-loss supplement and is similar in it’s chemical composure to amphetamines. Amphetamines are used to help attention and studying, staying awake, and used to treat ADHD. Methamphetamine is it’s stronger illicit counterpart.

What to do?

Show what you have been taking to your doctor as well as your PO, there are tests that can break down the chemical composure farther, that is if they decide to do it.

Antipsychotic drugs.

Some antipsychotic drugs can cause a false positive, like for example the drug chlorpromazine.

What to do?

If you are on any antipsychotic drugs, make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any drug test and see what they can do for you.

Diabetes Medications.

If you are diabetic and prescribed the most common oral medication used to treat diabetes, Metformin, it can result in a positive drug test for meth/amphetamines.

 What to do?

If you have to take this diabetes medication this can be a problem you run into at least once in your life, considering diabetes doesn’t go away. Talk to your doctor and make sure to let your PO or employer, know beforehand.

Antidepressants and Sleeping Pills.

Fluoxetine which is an antidepressant and trazodone which is used to help insomnia and depression can cause a false positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine.

Another one is bupropion (Wellbutrin), which has a multitude of uses, it can aid weight loss, help stop smoking, and of course the most common, help with those that have depression.

What to do?

Make sure you talk to your doctor and show your PO your prescription for the two right away. If you are doing an employer drug test you may need to wait until it is no longer in your system, as most employers don’t allow explanations of why you come up positive.

Pseudoephedrine.

Considering it is the actual medication that they cook in order to make methamphetamine (the more you know), it makes sense that it could cause a false positive for it. It is used for colds, and helps clear up congestion and dry up mucus.

They require you to show your ID to buy, and you can only buy 2 boxes per person at one time.

What to do?

This is one of the oldest excuses in the book, so it won’t work. Your best bet is to stop the use at least 2-3 days before you are taking any kind of drug screen.

Blood Pressure Medication.

Labetalol is a drug used for the treatment of blood pressure, it is considered an alpha- and beta-blocker drug. Taking this drug can cause a false positive for amphetamines and methamphetamines on a drug test.

What to do?

Same as always talk to your doctor so you can discuss your results before you take the test, or after, then demand a retest as soon as you can because you can’t stop taking this medication.

ADHD Medications.

Most ADHD medications are closely related to amphetamines or are amphetamines. Weirdly enough, they do the opposite effect in someone with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in small doses. A normal person gets extremely hyperactive on it, but an ADHD person calms down and is able to concentrate.

Two popular medications that are used to treat ADHD are Ritalin (Methylphenidate)and Adderal (amphetamine).

What to do?

These definitely do cause false positives, so make sure to bring this prescription to anyone before or after the drug test that shows you are CURRENTLY prescribed the medication.

Benzodiazepines

Antidepressants.

One in six Americans are taking at least one prescription for a psychiatric drug, and the majority of that statistic includes antidepressants. Benzo’s and antidepressants are close in chemical makeup, and some older tests do not differentiate the two. If you have taken an antidepressant it can linger in your system for up to a week, causing a false positive on a screen.

One popular one that causes false positives is sertraline, which is the generic for Zoloft.

What to do?

First, talk to your doctor about the upcoming drug screen, or if you already had the false positive, talk to your doctor about your options before taking it into your job. If it is your PO, then show them the research (this worked for me) as well as discuss it with your doctor, and maybe they can write a note to back up your research.

Anti-inflammatory Medication.

Oxaprozinis are used to treat inflammation in patients that have pain related to arthritis. It is considered an NSAID and taking these, for example, oxaprozin (Daypro), can cause a false positive for benzos.

Cocaine

Coca Tea:

This isn’t a very popular drink here in the states, but if you happen to enjoy the occasional cup of coca tea, remember, it comes from the same plant as cocaine.

What to do?

Make sure to cease any ingestion of this tea before any big test, because this tea can actually cause a positive for cocaine for up to 36 hours after.

LSD

Antidepressants.

Amitriptyline (Amitril), fluoxetine, and trazodone are some of the antidepressants on the list to cause a positive for LSD on a urine test. It is also used to treat nerve pain, chronic pain, as well as migraines.

What to do?

Talk to your prescribing doctor before you take any drug test, if you are on an antidepressant, just to make sure you don’t have a false positive.

Blood Pressure Medications.

A hypertension drug diltiazem slows your heart rate to help treat atrial fibrillation, but can also cause a false positive on a drug screen for LSD of all things.

I know…werid.

What to do?

Explain the facts, show who you need to about the fact that this medication can cause a false positive on a urine screen. LSD is hard to find these days, so it shouldn’t be too hard to show them how wrong it really was. Demand a re-test as soon as you can too.

Marijuana

Secondhand Smoke.

Secondhand smoke actually goes farther than you think. Hanging around those who are smoking weed often? Usually, the test that private employers and the federal government use are not supposed to show a positive on such minute amounts in the urine, but it does happen.

What to do?

Most often the cause of the false positive was because of recent exposure to secondhand smoke, and you can request a second test ASAP to show the levels have disappeared.

CBD.

Yes, CBD doesn’t get you high, BUT some states actually allow CBD oil to contain 5% or less of THC, yeah, I didn’t know that either. So if you have been going a little crazy on the CBD oils, edibles, or whatever lately, you could actually come up positive for THC in your drug screen.

What to do?

I don’t think there is anything you can do after the fact, because I don’t think anyone will believe that you failed a test because of CBD (unless you have a nice and understanding PO). If it’s for a job, just make sure to cut back on the CBD before the interview happens, because there is no room for explanation allowed.

 Proton pump inhibitors.

Drugs like Prilosec, or Zantac, which have generic names like omeprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprazole which are used for stomach and gastrointestinal issues can cause a false positive for THC.

What to do?

These medications are not supposed to be used long term even though many doctors prescribe them so. Talk to your doctor about your upcoming drug test, and if it’s after the fact they should be able to test farther to see the amounts and composition of the test.

Over-the-Counter Pain Medications.

Two common over-the-counter pain medications are ibuprofen and naproxen, used for anti-inflammatory purposes. If you have taken any of these you may show up for THC, and also have the chance of showing up for barbiturates, and even PCP.

What to do?

To be safe, make sure to either use a different over-the-counter pain reliever, like aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) close to the test or talk to your doctor about your worries and options.

HIV Medication.

There is an antiretroviral drug named Efavirenz (Sustiva) that is used to treat HIV infections. Though, the drug can actually cause a positive for marijuana in a drug test.

What to do?

If you are prescribed and currently taking Sustiva, let the lab or clinic know beforehand because they can actually use a more sensitive test to break down which is which.

Opiates (Percocet, Vicodin, Heroin, Methadone, Codeine)

Poppyseed muffins.

According to experts, it would take a buttload of poppy seeds to supposably test positive from poppy seeds, but it happens a lot more than it’s supposed to. Opiates are all derived from the poppy plant; poppy seeds contain morphine, and codeine naturally.

If you ate a poppy seed muffin or bagel that morning and go to take the drug test the same day, there is a pretty good chance you could test positive for opiates. The chances are also higher if the test that is done is using older technology.

What to do?

If you are looking for a new job, or know you may have a random screen coming up at work, try to avoid eating anything that contains poppy seeds. Even though they are so damn good with just the right amount of crunch…sorry, I know I’m not helping.

If you already tested positive, they should be able to break the test down farther to see the amount in your system, and then request a re-test as soon as you can.

Antibiotics.

Most antibiotics won’t cause any issues on drug screens. I have taken my fair share when having to drop (going to take a drug test) and had no issues. But a few antibiotics can cause a false positive for opiates, specifically the antibiotic called Rifampin.

Rifampin, which is used to treat infections such as TB (tuberculosis), can cause a false positive if a rapid urine test is done. The false result can also continue for more than 18 hours after just from a single dose and may linger longer with multiple doses.

Others that can cause a false positive are levofloxacin and ofloxacin.

What to do?

Of course, let whoever you need to, know what antibiotic you are on. Talk to your doctor as well, and ask your PO or employer to get in contact with them if it’s after the fact.

Antihistamines.

Weirdly enough, and it all depends on your metabolism and body chemistry, but certain antihistamines, like Benadryl and Advil PM, can actually show up as methadone.

What to do?

The active ingredient diphenhydramine is what you have to look out for. If you are having issues with sleeping, try melatonin. If you are having an allergic reaction then you don’t really need to worry about a drug test at that moment.

Antipsychotic Drugs.

There are many of these that can cause false positives on your drug screen. A drug that treats schizophrenia and bipolar disorder called Quetiapine, can actually come up as methadone on a urine screen.

What to do?

If you are on any antipsychotic drugs, make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any drug test and see what they can do for you.

Over-the-counter Sleep Aids.

Some over-the-counter sleep aids, like Unisom, which contain the active ingredient doxylamine, can cause a false positive for methadone, or just opiates in general.

What to do?

Before you are going to be taking any drug test, cease use of any sleep aid beforehand, and try using melatonin if you need something to help you sleep.

PCP

Antihistamines

Weirdly enough, diphenhydramine, which I talked about under opiates, can also show up as PCP on a drug screen.

What to do?

If this happens most likely your PO will be like what the heck. I honestly had this happen and I was like I have no idea why PCP is showing up on my test, considering I have never done PCP nor do I even know where to get any. Unless you live in Florida or an area this is prevalent you should be okay.

Over-the-counter Sleep Aids.

Some over-the-counter sleep aids, like Unisom, which contain the active ingredient doxylamine, can cause a false positive for methadone and opiates, but also PCP at times.

What to do?

Before you are going to be taking any drug test, cease use of any sleep aid beforehand, and try using melatonin if you need something to help you sleep to be safe.

Over-the-Counter Pain Medications.

Two common over-the-counter pain medications are ibuprofen and naproxen, used for anti-inflammatory purposes. If you have taken any of these you may show up for THC, and also have the chance of showing up for barbiturates, and even PCP.

What to do?

To be safe, make sure to either use a different over-the-counter pain reliever, like aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) close to the test or talk to your doctor about your worries and options.

Pain Pills.

Tramadol is the generic name for the drug Ultram, it is a non-opiate pain medication, and if you take this medication it can cause a false positive for PCP.

What to do?

Since tramadol can cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop abruptly, talk to your doctor before any drug test. Ask what kind of note they can give to show you are on this medication and sometimes can cause this reaction on drug screens.

Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors.

Venlafaxine is the generic name for Effexor XR, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It has a multitude of uses that aren’t limited to being prescribed for menopausal hot flashes, anxiety, depression, and mood. In a urine test, it has the possibility of showing up for PCP.

What to do?

Once again, talk to your doctor, and PO, because unless you live in an area where PCP is relevant then most will push for a re-test.

Barbiturates.

Over-the-Counter Pain Medications.

Two common over-the-counter pain medications are ibuprofen and naproxen, used for anti-inflammatory purposes. If you have taken any of these you may show up for THC, also have the chance of showing up for barbiturates, and even PCP.

What to do?

To be safe, make sure to either use a different over-the-counter pain reliever, like aspirin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) close to the test or talk to your doctor about your worries and options.

Conclusion:

I hope this list helps anyone out there that may have tested positive for an illicit drug and is completely baffled, or maybe you are just curious. Remember, it can happen to anyone, because most of the drugs above are prescribed for average ailments from high blood pressure to sinus infections. Failing a drug test doesn’t discriminate.

Have you ever failed a drug test and were completely baffled as to why? What happen when you did? Let me know in the comments below.

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