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May 28, 2024, 07:35:20 PM

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Drug Testing 101

With recreational drug use increasing every year, the chance that one or both of the parents involved in a custody battle has used drugs goes up proportionately. Accusations of drug use, whether true or false, almost always result in the ordering of drug testing by the court. A drug test can be a valuable tool to assist in determining the fitness of a particular parent, but the use of this tool must be balanced against the fact that drug testing is not always accurate. Needless to say, a "false positive" result on a drug test can destroy any chance that you had for gaining custody. Should you be asked (or ordered) to take a drug test, follow the guidelines below to ensure that your rights are preserved during this process.

  • If you are asked to submit to a drug test, always say "yes", but do not commit to a test date before you consult with your attorney. Inform the person asking that you are willing to be drug tested but that you will need to consult with your attorney privately and clear it with him first. There may be valid reasons why your attorney would not want you to be tested.

  • If you consent to drug testing, always schedule a private test first. Pay for the test in cash, NOT with a check or credit card. Ask that the results be sent to your attorney's office- this is safer than having them sent to your home or work address. Once you have the results you can decide how to proceed. If the test comes back positive, ask that another test be performed or that another type of test be used.

  • Sit down and make a comprehensive list of all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and foods that you've taken in the last several months. Many prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and even foods can cause "false positives" on drug tests. All drugs alter body chemistry; after all, that is why they're taken. Unfortunately, changes in body chemistry can fool some drug tests and produce inaccurate results ("false positives").

  • Ask the company doing the drug test to provide you with information on the kind of test that will be done. Also ask the company for a list of all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and foods that may interfere with the drug test results. If the company refuses to provide such a list, instruct your attorney to subpoena a list from them. You may also do your own research to find out what medicines or foods could cause the drug test to be invalid.

  • Request a copy of the laboratory's certification for drug testing, then investigate. What is their "false positive" rate? Has the laboratory's certification ever been suspended, revoked? Has the company ever been cited or found to be in violation of the certification? How long have they been in business? The answers may show that the company cannot be relied upon to provide accurate results.

  • If you're being asked to take a drug test, always insist that your spouse be tested too. If you're willing to do it, they should be willing to do it. Insist that the cost of the testing be split 50/50 between you.

  • Drinking plenty of water and juices helps rid the body of impurities. Stay away from coffee, tea and carbonated beverages if possible. Also refrain from drinking alcohol. While alcohol is being metabolized the body does little else in the way of processing other foods and ingestibles, preferring to concentrate on the alcohol because it is an extremely rich source of energy and sugars. In other words, consuming alcohol slows the body's process of clearing itself of other impurities.

  • Whenever possible, schedule your drug test for the afternoon, not in the morning. Chemical impurities are at higher concentrations in the body early in the day than later in the day (when your body has had some time to process them). Urine, for example, is typically most concentrated in the morning. If the testing laboratory insists that you schedule a morning drug test, agree, then call in on the day of the test and tell them that you will be late due to unforeseen circumstances (you got stuck in traffic, the car broke down, the bus was late, etc).

    Reassure them that you will be in to take the test as soon as you possibly can, then show up in the afternoon. If they want to reschedule you for another morning test, refuse. Tell them that you are here now, that you want to take your test now and that you don't want to have to come back again. If they refuse, insist that they give you a written note stating that they would not allow you to take the drug test at this time.

Drug Test Interaction With Medicines And Foods
Be aware that certain foods and over-the-counter medications can cause you to test "positive" for various kinds of drugs.

  • Poppy seeds, for example, can show up on a drug test as morphine.

  • Cold remedies that contain codeine can also cause a positive result for morphine.

  • Valium reportedly can produce erroneous indications of PCP (Phencyclidine), and other cold remedies can apparently produce false reports of methamphetamine usage.

  • Dextromethorphan can produce a falsely positive qualitative urine opiate screening.

  • The widespread availability of hemp-containing products, including everything from hemp-seed oil nutritional supplements to hemp-seed candy, cookies, cheese, bread, cooking oil, and general seasoning, means that ingesting ANY of these products could potentially cause a false positive result on a test for marijuana.

  • Ibuprofen, contained in Advil, Nuprin, and Mortin, can make a positive result for marijuana. The EMIT test (an immunoassay test) has therefore been changed to use a different enzyme to eliminate false positives due to Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen in very high doses will still interfere with both the EMIT and the GC/MS (Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer) test.

    Ibuprofen is a common pain reliever that (even in low dosages) used to cause a false THC positive on the EMIT test. The EMIT has been changed to use a different enzyme to eliminate false positives due to Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen in very high doses will still interfere with both the EMIT and the GC/MS. There is some conflicting data here because some sources say that the GC/MS tests can distinguish between Ibuprofen and THC (as well as other over-the-counter drugs).

  • Common over the counter cold, asthma, and allergy remedies and diet pills such as Diatec, Dexatrim, Cotylenol, Triaminic, Primatene, Bronkotabs, and Nyquil can show up as positive for amphetamines.

  • Vicks Formula-44, Demerol, Mydol, Primatene-M and common prescription antidepressants such as Elavil and Tofanil can show up as positive for opiates such as opium and heroin.

  • Ephedra, also known as Ephedra Alkaloids or 'MaHuang Extract' has a chemical structure which is closely related to amphetamine, and can reportedly give a false positive for amphetamines. Often sold as an 'energy pill' it is an effective decongestant in low doses.

  • Valerian root is reported to cause false positives for benzodiazepines. Other herbal supplements such as Kava Kava and St Johns Wort may also affect body chemistry such that false positives are produced.

  • Zoloft is reported to cause false positives in urine screens, although for what specific substance isn't clear.

  • Primatene can also show up as positive for barbiturates, and Benadryl can show up positive for Methadone.

  • Some additional over the counter medicines that may cause various kinds of drug test interactions include Alka-Seltzer plus, Allerest, Bronkaid, Contac, Donnagel, Sinuntab, and Sudafed.

Common Testing Methods
Several different methods of drug testing are available. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Urine Test
The most common form of drug testing is to analyze a sample of urine for traces of drugs. A positive test result only indicates that a drug was used sometime in the recent past; it does not tell whether or not the person was under the influence when giving the sample.

For detecting alcohol, a urine test is accurate but is not used because it correlates poorly with blood levels when usual collection procedures are used.

Blood Test
A blood test measures the actual amount of alcohol or other drugs in the blood at the time of the test. Unlike the urine test, the results tell whether or not the person was under the influence at the time the test was done.

Saliva and Hair Tests
Researchers have begun studying the testing of hair and saliva to detect alcohol and other drug use. Early results suggest that testing saliva may be a valid testing method. The accuracy, reliability, and interpretation of hair testing have been determined to be useable in a court of law, although the actual accuracy is still open to some debate.

Breath-Alcohol Test
A breath test is the most common method of testing for alcohol. The results tell if the individual is under the influence of alcohol at the time the breath sample is taken. Alcohol is metabolized out of the body in a relatively short period of time; therefore, unless a person is under the influence at the time the specimen is collected, a breath test for alcohol will not detect alcohol use that occurred a day earlier.

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