Can You Beat a Drug Test?

If you Google “fake a drug test,” or “beat a drug test,” you will get, quite literally, more than 14 million results. That might make you think that a drug test is easy to cheat, but the reality is that professional drug testers have ways and means to catch people who cheat on drug tests.

Why People Try to Cheat

The repercussions can be significant if a drug test is failed. Jobs or welfare benefits can be lost, criminals on probation can be sent back to jail, and, of course, people who have driven or operated machinery under the influence can be caught and charged. People try to cheat on drug tests out of desperation, pure and simple. Of course there’s nothing to stop people from trying, but a drug test technician working in a laboratory can almost always find a cheat.

Ways People Try to Cheat

Water Loading: This is one of the most common ways that people will try to beat a drug test. Essentially, they’re attempting to water down the drugs that are in their system so that they won’t show up on a urine test. They might first drink salt water to increase their thirst and then down plain water, or they might just stick with plain water throughout the attempt. In rare cases, this can actually cause a condition called “water intoxication,” which can be fatal. In other cases, the cheat may use a flushing agent that’s designed to increase the output of urine. The reality is that it’s nearly impossible to drink enough water to foil a urine test.

Tampering: The theory is that if you add a bit of vinegar, bleach, drain cleaner or detergent to your urine sample, the illegal substance won’t be detectable. There are even special adulterants that are sold on the Internet – people might as well save their money. There are a variety of simple tests that drug test technicians can use in order to catch cheats. Just as an example, plain old hydrogen peroxide causes urine to turn brown if the urine has been adulterated with pyridinium chlorochromate, which is a common chemical that’s used to cheat on drug tests.

Vitamins: Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, aids metabolism, and Scientologists believe that large quantities of this vitamin will remove toxins from the body. Because of this, some people believe that it will remove traces of drugs from the body. The problem with this is that excessive doses of Vitamin B3 can cause liver toxicity, low blood sugar, and vomiting. Also, it doesn’t work. Drug test technicians don’t even have to use any special techniques to identify this type of tampering.

Drug Switching: This involves changing the drug of choice to something more dangerous. Sometimes it actually works – inhalants, for instance, won’t show up on a urine test. Unfortunately, getting high in this manner is considerably more likely to cause death than, say, using marijuana.


There is little point in trying to cheat on a drug test. A competent technician will almost always catch the cheater. Still, with the increased use of drugs in our society, people will try, and there will always be jobs for the people whose task it is to catch them.

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