Magazine article Corrections Forum

Oral Fluid Drug Testing Foils Cheaters

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Oral Fluid Drug Testing Foils Cheaters

Article excerpt

THE INGENUITY OF DRUG ABUSERS to avoid detection has always been apparent but never as highly developed as today. Many drug abusers have become highly competent "cheaters" when it comes to urine drug testing. Drug abusers have detailed instructions available on the Internet on how to beat drug tests accompanied by a supporting industry of products such as synthetic urine, adulterants and devices designed to fool urine collectors and confound specimen analysis. An emerging drug test that uses a few drops of oral fluid (primarily saliva) overcomes many of the problems of urine testing. With the advanced analytical technology available today, laboratory based oral fluid drug testing represents a new tool that is as accurate as urine tests and overcomes the problems associated with drug "cheaters."

Cheating on Urine Drug Tests

Although urine has been the predominant specimen of choice for conducting drug tests, it has clearly defined collection weaknesses that have been recognized since its first use. Not only is there embarrassment to both the donor and the collector when a urine specimen is collected, drug abusers find ways to foil the drug test in a variety of innovative ways. Prior to showing up for a drug test, drug abusers know that by "water-loading" they may escape detection by providing a highly dilute specimen thereby lowering drug concentrations below detection thresholds.

A second dilution method is simply adding fluid to the specimen during collection. However, laboratories have become adept at detecting a "dilute" specimen; therefore, many drug abusers take additional precautions to improve their chances of escaping detection.

A variety of ways are available for beating a drug test. Adulterants (chemicals) can be purchased on the Internet and in health-food stores that, when added to urine specimens, either destroy the drug or interfere with the test method, the result being a false negative report. Adulterants are products designed to be easily concealable in clothing so they can be added to the collection cup before, during or after urination without the collector's knowledge. Detection of adulterants by laboratory analysis can be problematic; some laboratories have developed tests for specific adulterants, but new adulterants continually appear. The demand for new adulterants is such that laboratories simply cannot keep up with the expanding list of products nor can they continue to bear the associated costs of testing for each new adulterant.

Another method that has proved effective is substitution of "clean" urine in place of the individual's authentic specimen. Clean specimens can be obtained from another individual or purchased on the Internet either as freeze dried specimen (with instructions to add warm water), intact urine, or synthetic urine. Appliances, such as the Whizzinator and the Butt Wedge, can be purchased and loaded with fake urine. These urine delivery devices are difficult, if not impossible, to detect even during witnessed collection. Once a substituted specimen is collected, the laboratory cannot distinguish a substituted urine specimen from an authentic specimen.

In sum total, millions of dollars are spent yearly on these types of products designed to help drug abusers avoid drug detection; unfortunately no one really knows how frequently drug abusers attempt or are successful in beating their urine drug tests. With all the effort drug test cheaters expend, the laboratories have to stay diligent in order to catch them. Of course the additional testing costs necessary for adulterants and sample dilutions are passed along to the end user. These costs are further amplified by the "soft costs" to be considered in combating cheating attempts - keeping a bathroom secure for collections, turning off the water, blueing agents in the toilet, and mirrors; all add to the cost of urine collection.

Oral Fluid Tests are Always Observed

Oral fluid is primarily saliva and is easily collected with an absorptive device placed in the mouth. …

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