Drug Testing

Most laboratories use a 5 panel urine drug screen that checks for PCP, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines/amphetamines and opiates. This drug screen is most commonly used for regular workplace screening. Tests that detect a specific drug may be used for diagnosis and monitoring.

 The standard U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) urine test includes a one-step rapid assay for the detection of opiate and opiate metabolites. Heroin breaks down into codeine and morphine. Codeine breaks down into morphine. The opiate drug tests look for codeine, morphine, and 6-acetyl-morphine. The presence of 6-acetyl-morphine is relatively conclusive of recent heroin use, but is only detectable for a few hours after use. The presence of codeine can be the result of either heroin or codeine use. The presence of morphine can be the result of the use of heroin, codeine, or morphine. Relative levels of codeine and morphine can help determine their origin. Fentanyl does not show up in the 5-panel test and a specific test must be requested. Opiates may be detected in the urine for up to 4 days after use: opium for 1-2 days, heroin for 1-4 days and morphine for 3-4 days.


A number of substances may cause “false positive” tests, including poppy seeds, cough medicines containing dextromethorphan, Nyquil, kidney infection, kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease and various antibiotics.


Users can adulterate the test to mask the results by adding “Urine Luck” to the sample. This product contains a chemical (pyridinium chlorochromate) that alters the molecular structure of opiates (and THC). However, this agent is easy to detect. Instant drug-testing urine dip cards are available that test for the 5 drugs in the NIDA standard test and also detects oxidants and other agents that can cause the urine drug test to be negative.


Saliva drug testing can generally detect drug use that occurred in the last few days. This makes saliva drug testing excellent for post-accident drug testing, pre-employment testing and random testing. Most saliva drug tests are limited to the NIDA-5 i.e. cocaine, marijuana, opiates, amphetamines and barbiturates but when warranted saliva drug testing can be set up to detect any drug use. Saliva drug testing cannot be beat with conventional mouthwashes.


Detection in urine:


Drugs have certain “detection windows” meaning the amount of time after ingestion that evidence of their use can be detected by a drug test. Alcohol is absorbed and eliminated more quickly than other drugs; therefore, many employers have post-accident testing procedures that require testing for alcohol to occur within two hours of the incident. Other drugs are eliminated from the body at different rates and thus detectable for different periods of time, often long after the drug's effect has worn off. The following are estimates of the length of time that certain drugs are detectable: 

  • Alcohol – 2-12hours
  • Amphetamines/Methamphetamine – 2-3 days 
  • Adderall / Ritalin – 2-5 days
  • Bath salts – 4-7 days
  • Barbiturates – 2-10 days 
  • Benzodiazepines – 1-6 weeks 
  • Cocaine – 2-10 days 
    • Benzoylecogonine - 2-4 days
    • Heavy use -  up to 10 days
  • Codeine – 2-4 days
  • Ecstasy ( MDMA) – 2-3 days
  • Heroin -1-3 days
  • Morphine – 2-3 days 
  • LSD – 8 hours 
  • Marijuana
  • 1 time only – 5-8 days
  • 2-4 times month - 11-18 days
  • 2-4 times week – 23-35 days
  • 5-6 times week – 33-48 days
  • Daily use – 49-90 days

Methadone – 2-3 days 

  • Phencyclidine (PCP) – 1 week 
  • Prescription Opiates – 3-5 days
  • Suboxone – 2-7 days
  • Synthetic Pot (K2 / Spice) – 4-7 days
  • *OxyContin and other prescription opiates will not show up in a regular urine tox! You need to request the urine be quantified or request a five panel opiate test.

Ways to cheat/beat drug tests


When something is at stake, people will find a way to cheat the system and drug testing is no different. It is important to know what your drug-testing agency provides. Do they watch someone urinate? Do they allow people to bring their urine to a designated location? Do they test the temperature or the urine? What drugs are in the panel they are using? What type of testing are they doing: blood, urine, oral swab, hair sample, saliva test? What are the parameters of the different tests? (Know oral swabs can be blown up by washing your mouth out with hydrogen peroxide before they swab. Hair sampling is a 90-day window of exposure; it does not tell you if the person is currently under the influence). Do they test for human antigens? Knowing all the parameters of the drug-testing agency can lessen the possibility of someone cheating the test.


Here are some of the most common ways people try to cheat drug tests:

1. The whizzinator – a pouch with straps and a small hose that clamps off. People will put someone else’s urine in the pouch, strap it to their thigh, and wear it for 2-3 hours before the test. This gets the urine in the pouch to the same body temperature of the person. Then if no one watches them fill the cup, they can loosen the clamp, make dribbling sounds, and then re-clamp it off.

2. Elmer’s glue bottle – similar idea to the whizzinator above. The can leave the twist lid on, or take it off and attach small tubing to the top and clamp the tubing off. They put someone else’s urine in and strap it to their leg for 2-3 hours before the test. They can then squeeze the urine out, or open the clamp and release the urine.

3. Males will put someone else’s urine in small glass vials and roll it up under their scrotum. Sometimes they will tape it to get to body temperature; sometimes they do it right before they get to the collection site. If they are not watched or checked, the urine can easily be substituted for their urine.

4. Females will fill balloons with someone else’s, and insert them up their vagina for a couple hours. This gets the urine to match their body temperature, and they can pop the balloon releasing the urine.

5. Females take small thin prescription drug vials, put a hole in the lid, and cover it with duct tape. They fill the vial with   someone else’s urine and insert it up their vagina. It gets to temperature, they pull off the tape, and the urine dribbles out.

6. Detox drinks – these drinks are sold at vitamin stores (GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, etc.), online, in smoke shops, and in marijuana dispensaries. Majority of the time they do not work, and some drug testing agencies can test for the flushing agents. The testing agencies will list the flushing agents and state the sample is “dilute” which is considered a positive test.

7. Powdered and synthetic urine – these products are sold in smoke shops, marijuana dispensaries, and online. Some synthetic urine products come with their own small heating pad to put the bottle in. It heats the liquid to body temperature. If the drug testing agency tests for human antigens this will easily pop up as non-human, and some agencies will list the urine is synthetic.

8. Cranberry and Niacin pills – this seems to be working. People take high doses of cranberry pills and niacin alternating every 3 hours. Both can legally be purchased anywhere vitamins are sold (pharmacies, vitamin stores, grocery stores, drug stores, and health food stores).

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Lynn Riemer


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