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False Positive Drug Test

Written by Sierra Rein
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Unfortunately, during routine or random drug testing procedures, results can sometimes reveal what is called a false positive drug test. That is, a clean individual takes a test and expects to pass with flying colors, only to be told that the test came back positive. There are several reasons for this, and an employer or supervisor should be in tune with the possibilities so that an employee is not fired under false pretenses.

The reasons for a false positive drug test are mainly due to a "cross reactant," or the indication of a substance in the body that is similar in structure to the drug in question. For example, some people who have eaten poppy seed bagels or cake in the morning will test positive for opiates even 24 hours later. It is important when going in to a test to list any current medications and to ask the officials beforehand if any foods you have eaten in the past might change the outcome of the test.

Other Ways a False Positive Drug Test May Arise

If a sample has been mistakenly mixed up at the lab, this obviously might create a false positive. Asking to double-check the sample and making sure the right names are on the label is a great way to ensure that the sample is connected to the right person. Other improper procedures or badly filed paperwork can also be the culprit, so do your research on which laboratories and clinics are the most reliable.

Employers must understand that drug testing can be a frightening procedure, even for innocent individuals. If someone adamantly asserts that he or she does not do drugs, even after positive test results, take a moment to presume that he or she is still innocent until proven guilty. A second, or more detailed test, might be the better solution for all involved parties.


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