How drug users fake passing drug tests


Using drug testing as a way to screen potential employees is common practice in most industries.

Nicole Mattson

Drug testing is a common requirement for lots of different jobs, from grocery store clerks to hospice workers. However recreational drug use outside of work is not necessarily indicative of an employee who is irresponsible. Drug tests are also often administered for medical reasons and court-ordered instances outside of being used as an employee requirement.

This leads to instances where people use fake or “clean” urine to pass drug tests, whether it was court ordered or necessary to get a job. 

According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, it is easy to get caught using urine that isn’t your own. This source got a summer job as a lifeguard at a public pool in Iowa. Employees were to be drug tested. 

“When I arrived, I was escorted to a bathroom to relieve myself into a cup. When the lab dude came back to collect the sample he said, ‘This sample has no temperature. This isn’t your urine,’ so I simply left the building,” the source said. 

Consequences for testing positive for an employer-ordered drug test, even in a state that the drug is illegal, usually are not severe. It is up to the employer what steps to take but it could potentially result in being referred to a rehabilitation facility, according to WorkPlaceFairness.Org 

Sarah Morrow is a probation/parole officer through the Second Judicial District Department of Correctional Services. She has been working in the department for 15 years, and she has been in her position as probation/parole officer one for three years. Probation/parole officer one means her clients are low risk and they need low intensive supervision. This also means Morrow has pretrial supervision clients and she writes presentence investigations. Morrow drug tests clients on a regular basis.

“It is not always easy [to tell if someone is using someone else’s urine] — especially with women,” Morrow said.

Probation/parole officers only supervise people of the same sex.

“Women’s anatomy can allow for easier concealment,” Morrow said. “Manipulation of any devices they are trying to hide or altered samples of urine that they might be trying to use can be a challenge.”

It is important to remember that the court-ordered drug testing process will be different from employer-ordered drug testing. Although you may face repercussions, you can refuse an employer-ordered drug test.

“We have a number of things that we can put into place to try to help us such as how we monitor the urine test itself,” Morrow said. “We are in the room with the client, they are expected to wash their hands thoroughly first and we can do things like collect in a hat like at a doctor’s office so it’s completely hands-free. Generally, they are expected to be visually open to us — no clothing blocking our view of them.”

Morrow also said clients are supposed to do the test one-handed so it is more difficult for them to alter the test. Also, if they are fidgeting a lot or have odd body language, this can indicate they are trying to manipulate the urine analysis.

“You also have to take into account that having to go to the bathroom in front of someone else is pretty unnerving and not a comfortable experience on either side,” Morrow said. “So just because somebody is nervous or jittery or seems to have some of those mannerisms, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are trying to conceal something and that is kind of where the other half of the test comes in. The cup checks for things like dilute, temperature or the sample being altered in some way that would be inconsistent with it coming from the human body.”

In order to be successful when passing drug tests with urine that isn’t your own, there are a few steps you need to take. 

“I did successfully do it one time by having the guy urinate minutes before the test and then wrapping it in a hot pad and shoving it in my underwear,” the anonymous source said.

A former Iowa State student who wishes to remain anonymous shared how he got clean urine for a drug test. This source was drug tested for work because he had a government job.

“The urine was free from my friend. He gave it to me the morning of the test and I had to use my own best judgement to bring the urine up to temperature and keep it there for the test,” the former Iowa State student said.

This source was using someone else’s urine due to his marijuana use, which was illegal in the state he worked in.

“The job was a government job, but my work would not be affected by drug use outside of the workplace, which is why testing for marijuana (which can remain in your system for up to three months) is a flawed method,” the former Iowa State student said. “If I crashed a government vehicle and had smoked marijuana a few weeks before, they could still argue I was high during the accident.”

He knew using urine that wasn’t his own would require some type of preparation. For about four minutes after passing urine, it should remain at a temperature of about 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

“I used a hand warmer and body heat to bring it to temperature. I then checked the temperature in the parking lot with a thermometer, making sure it was between 94 and 100 degrees. I put the sample in my underwear and walked in for the test, relying on my body heat to keep it at temperature,” the former Iowa State student said. “Ten minutes later, I was called back for the test and I passed without the administrator batting an eye.”

When it comes to consequences, Morrow shares that their office tries to exhaust community options first. She added that if someone is trying to alter their court-ordered drug test, it is typically because they are actively using drugs. Therefore, the violation will be documented and then they will start treatment if they have not already. 

Failing a court-ordered drug test and altering the test are separate violations. If someone has already started then they will increase services or get them into better services. As failed tests continue, the consequences increase. This can result in clients needing to go back to court and then the judge can potentially send them back to prison.

“I think in our district, we’re really good about that continuum of care and really trying to exhaust all options in the community to change that behavior that’s leading up to that violation versus just trying to consequence them with jail time or other things that really don’t have a big impact on changing their thinking and their behaviors,” Morrow said. 

Morrow has seen and heard many ways people have attempted to alter their tests, from fake penises to drinking bleach. Fake penises retail for roughly $130. 

“It just kind of depends what their resources are. Not everyone has the resources or money to pay for urine or to purchase it off the internet or to come up with some fancy device to try to manipulate the system,” Morrow said. 

She also added that people who are looking to make money will prey on desperate people and give false information. Clients often tend to think they are more desperate than they are.

“[Clients think] that one test is going to be the end of everything, which is usually not the case unless you have had a ton of other issues to that point,” Morrow said.

The Second Judicial District uses several different tests. Their most common test is their six panel test, which tests for cocaine, THC, amphetamines, methamphetamines, opiates and benzodiazepines. They also have a saliva test that tests for five drugs and one that tests for alcohol. Along with this, they have a lab that can confirm if a sample is valid or if there was a false positive.

“A few [clients] who have really struggled over the years who finally get sober and start taking accountability will come back and say, ‘Look, I know you were trying to figure out if I was using or not and this is how I was manipulating [the test],’ but I would say it’s a pretty low percentage that actually admit to it unless they have been caught,” Morrow said.