If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the over 30 US states that have legalized either medical or recreational marijuana (or even both), you are most likely making liberal use of your newfound freedom. And you are far from alone.
Around 55 million adults use cannabis in the US at the moment, and the vast majority of Americans of all age groups are in favor of legalization. Unfortunately, the workplaces of most people still haven’t caught up with the times yet, especially not if you work for the federal government.
So what is one to do when you want to enjoy your late-night joint but also don’t want to lose your job because of some random drug testing? You try to fake your way through the drug test, obviously.
A simple Google search will yield dozens of results for detox drinks, home remedies, and tricks bordering on witchcraft, all in the hopes of passing your drug test.
There have been plenty of rumors floating around of common household substances such as vinegar, lemon juice, and even Visine eye-drops being the go-to solution for your surprise test.
A team of researchers from Serbia has now set out to shed light on these DIY solutions and find out which ones can actually result in a false-negative in your drug test results.
For their experiment, researchers got their hands on urine from a toxicology lab that tested positive for cannabis, amphetamines, MDMA, THC, cocaine, heroin, or benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax. As a control, they also collected urine from three people who had none of these substances in their systems (aka boring people).
In their paper, the team of researchers explains that when they are informed of a surprise urine test, many “drug consumers resort to simple addition of urine adulterating chemicals, in hope of obtaining a false negative drug test result… Households keep many readily-available chemicals that can adulterate urine samples, but little is known about how exactly they interfere with UDST results.”
The researchers took each of the urine samples and added different amounts of household items, including lemon juice, vinegar, bleach, zinc pills, Visine eye drops, liquid soap, and Serbian cleaning products. To simulate a regular person that has to quickly dilute their urine sample on the spot, they added unmeasured amounts of the different substances to the samples to the point that they would be diluted, but not so much that the samples changed color or smell.
Vinegar will stealthily beat a drug test
All samples were then tested with immunochromatographic urine drug screening tests (UDSTs), which are the most commonly used tests for a simple drug screening. According to the study’s results, several of the substances caused the definitely not drug-free urine samples to come up as negative for drugs.
Vinegar, lemon juice, bleach, and benzalkonium chloride – a common ingredient found in hand sanitizer – were most likely to yield false-negative results.
And there’s more good news. The study’s authors found that urine tests for cannabis were easier fooled by these additives than tests for other drugs. Very few successfully disguised the presence of cocaine in urine, and others, looking at you Visine, did absolutely nothing.
There are several huge caveats with these results, though. Many random drug tests require that an observer has to witness you deposit your sample, making it close to impossible to add anything to your urine sample. And while most of these common household items helped beat the basic UDSTs, additional tests uncovered that the urine had been tempered with.
In fact, simple urine reagent strips can reveal the presence of most of these substances, which would prove that you were attempting to fake your test.
But, while that is true for most of the household substances, three adulterants couldn’t be picked up by the additional testing: vinegar, citric acid, and lemon juice. And while the researchers were able to eventually sniff out the presence of lemon juice with a pH test, not a single additional test could detect vinegar.
The researchers concluded that “in terms of tampering, our study shows that UDST [urine drug screening tests] for cannabinoids are susceptible to urine adulterants, as [they] yielded six false negative results. … The most potent adulterant that barely changed the physiological properties of urine specimens and therefore escaped adulteration detection was vinegar.”
Vinegar has actually long been rumored to be able to help you beat a drug test. The recommendation had always been to drink vinegar to dilute your urine and flush out the cannabinoids from your system. As it turns out, they were half-right.
So what does that mean for you? Instead of spending crazy amounts of money on detox drinks may or may not work, keep a little bit of vinegar on your person at all times. It might just save your job.