There are many reasons you may have to take a drug test. If you’re looking for a job, HR may ask you for a pre-employment drug test as an initial condition. Additionally, some jobs may perform random testing if you working in a non-sober state may hurt you or others around you.
If you’re in an accident, your insurance company may also ask you to take a drug test to see the number of drugs and/or alcohol present in your body. For whatever reason it may be, in this article, you’ll learn several ways how to prepare for a drug test.
Who Needs to Take a Drug Test?
The DOT as well as the FAA, follow strict guidelines when it comes to drug screenings. Pilots, truck drivers, or drivers in general, are most likely to take a drug test before and during the time they’re working. Most workplaces follow more or less similar methods and guidelines for testing.
The most popular test for companies includes a 5-panel, 7-panel, or just a THC test. Substances they’ll be able to find include:
- Marijuana (THC)
- MDMA (Ecstasy)
You might be thinking, “but marijuana is legal in some states” - yes, but the government still considers marijuana to be a Schedule 1 drug. Therefore, if you have more THC in your system and it passes the cutoff level, you automatically fail. However, your employer is required to do a confirmatory test soon after your first drug screening.
How Long Does Marijuana Stay in Your Body?
The THC metabolites of marijuana may stay in your system for up to 30 days since the last time you smoked or ate it. However, depending on the test, THC may be detectable for longer. Here is each test and the amount of time it can identify marijuana in your system:
- Urine test - about 3–30 days after use.
- Blood test - 3–4 hours.
- Hair test - up to 90 days after consumption
Then depending on your smoking habits, weight, metabolism, body fat, etc., THC will exit your body at different speeds.
How to Prepare for a Drug Test
If you know ahead of time when your drug test will be, here are 8 tips on what you should do to start preparing yourself for the drug screening.
Tip #1: Stop using drugs
Although it may seem obvious it also may be very difficult for some people. Even if you hung around people who were smoking, accidentally tried a piece of an edible, or have smoked for a long time the test will probably detect THC. The test won’t tell how long you have been smoking or ingesting marijuana. It’ll only show that it is indeed in your system.
Tip #2: Drink water but don’t overdo it
Drinking fresh, natural water will help flush out toxins from your body. Some people recommend drinking 10-12 glasses of water a day. However, on the day of your test make sure to cut down on the amount of water you drink. If your urine is over-diluted, it can also be a red flag as it’ll be obvious you purposely drank too much water.
Cranberry juice may also help, but combining this tip with the next one will surely speed up the process.
Tip #3: Exercise
Exercising hard enough will help your body sweat out any toxins. But make sure to keep yourself hydrated to make up for what was lost. The reason why exercising helps is that the body stores THC in fat cells. Therefore, exercising can aid in speeding up your metabolism and flushing the drug out of your body faster. On top of exercising, make sure to eat plenty of veggies and fruits and a healthy diet.
Tip #4: Test yourself at home
Using an at-home THC test strip won’t say how much marijuana is in your body but it can say if you have more than 50 ng/ml (the cutoff level for most initial drug tests). So if you have around a week or so before your drug test, get yourself some DIY tests and keep checking your progress.
The process is very simple:
- You take a sample of your first urine in the morning.
- Hold the test strip inside the sample for 10-15 seconds, not more or less, then place it on a flat surface.
- Read the results after 5 minutes only. If you get a positive result, make sure that something else isn’t triggering a false positive before making final assumptions.
Tip #5: Make sure you have enough time
If you learn that a drug test is coming up, stop using any drugs right away. Even though alcohol is typically not designed to be detected by drug tests, if you're more prone to use drugs when you drink, you may also wish to abstain from alcohol during this period.
The ideal amount of time between your last drug use and the day of the drug test is a few weeks. The effects of medicines won't be completely gone after this time period.
Ideally, you'll have a couple of weeks from the last time you used drugs until the date of the drug test. That will give you enough time to investigate the kind of drug test you'll be subjected to and make sure you have a good chance of passing it.
Tip #6: Read up about urine tests
Knowing how a urine test works can help you anticipate what to expect. For example, when it’s time for testing, you’ll be asked to remove all your clothes and anything from your pockets before going into the testing room.
Then the lab or testing company will keep safe your belongings while you do the test. So bringing as less as possible is best. Here’s how most urine tests proceed:
- You'll walk inside a testing room with a bathroom. Somebody watched this restroom's door, but you have privacy in the restroom itself.
- You’ll need to provide a urine sample in a tiny plastic cup.
- The lab will examine each urine sample for manipulation, adulteration, or substitution as well as for changes in temperature, color, odor, or the presence of foreign objects or materials.
Note: If you've recently smoked, a urine test may be more accurate than a blood test.
Tip #7: Don’t tamper with your urine sample
Strategies that might have once worked, like adding salt to a urine test or using fake pee in place of your own sample, are likely to be discovered as drug tests are now more sophisticated. In some states, the penalty for tampering with a drug sample can be more severe than failing a drug test and even carrying criminal penalties.
Don't waste your money on miracle cleanses or on trying to rig the results of a drug test by including an adulterant. These are unlikely to be successful given the pressure businesses are under to abide by federal drug rules.
Tip #8: Don’t count on any excuses
Saying, for instance, that your roommate enjoys using drugs and that her use is why you tested positive rather than your own is unlikely to be helpful. The typical threshold for THC detection in urine samples is 50 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). A person would have to spend hours alone in a closet full of marijuana smokers in order to accomplish this amount of secondhand, "passive" smoking.
Being proactive in assessing your personal circumstances is the best strategy to prevent getting a positive drug test.
Note: Keep in mind, that if you have 24 hours or less, it’s difficult to say, but the probability of passing a drug test is much lower. The moment you find out about your drug, try the methods above as soon as possible. These ways won’t clear out THC from your system but they may help to lower the level below the cutoff.
Should I fast before a urine drug test?
For the test, you don't need to fast or alter your diet. Tell your doctor about any vitamins or medications you are taking as well. If some of them include vitamin C supplements, it can have an impact on the outcomes of your urinalysis.
What should I do the morning of my drug test?
You should never provide your first urine of the day because drug metabolites can accumulate as you sleep. You may want to take a substantial dosage (50-100 milligrams) of vitamin B2, which is found in B-complex multivitamins, in addition to drinking a lot of water before the test.
Can you pee in the toilet during a drug test?
To prevent you from tampering with or adulterating the sample, the toilet water is probably colored. You should be permitted to fill the specimen in private unless there are grounds to believe you will tamper with it.
Is it better to fail a drug test or refuse?
Refusing to submit to a drug test is similar to refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test: you have the right to refuse, but passing the test is usually preferable. Instead of asking if you can refuse a drug test, you should ask whether doing so is a wise course of action. There are various grounds for ordering drug tests.
Does failing a drug test go on record?
Most American workers never receive notification from their employer when a drug test fails. However, a lot of government jobs need this information and are allowed to look for it. An employer may quickly find out whether a drug test results in a criminal conviction because the information is a public record.
- A drug sample should not be tampered with. If discovered, you'll probably lose your job. Tampering with a drug sample is a crime in some places.
- Never attempt to use someone else's "clean" urine instead of your own.
- Be aware that in order to prevent drug tests from being diluted, the water in the toilets of the bathrooms where you will be providing a urine sample is frequently dyed.
- The drug test will find diluted urine if it is present. Most likely, you’ll get sent to do a second test. If the second test again yields diluted results, you will most likely "fail" the test because of the diluted results rather than the presence of drugs. The business can demand that you use a different type of drug test.
- Drugs that would adversely affect a drug test shouldn't be taken while you are pregnant or nursing because they could harm the unborn child.