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How to Prepare For and Pass a Drug Test

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It is fairly common for employers to perform background checks as well as drug and alcohol tests for prospective employees. Although there are rarely any perfect candidates, these extra screening steps can be used to create a safe and inclusive company culture.

Conventional employment background checks are fairly straightforward and there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prepare for what may show up on a background check. But there are several things that you can do to prepare for and pass a drug test. The information covered below isn’t meant to provide readers with tips on how to cheat a drug test, but rather with important drug testing considerations.

1. Refrain From Using Drugs

It may seem obvious, but the only way to ensure that you pass a drug test is to refrain from using drugs entirely. Different types of drugs have different half-lives, so the amount of time they are in your system will fluctuate between drugs. It doesn’t matter whether you are a frequent user or you only tried something once, a drug test will locate any chemical residue in your system.

If you are planning on applying for a new job and you know they will require a drug test, be sure to stop immediately and give yourself enough time to detox and test clean.

2. Determine the Type of Drug Test Being Administered

There is more than one type of drug test that employers may use and not all drug tests test for the same types of drugs. For example, a 10-panel drug test will test for all types of drugs while other tests may exclude specific types of drugs. 

Additionally, different types of drug tests can detect drugs for different amounts of time. For example, a hair follicle test or a urine test can detect drugs for a longer period than a blood test that is designed to detect current levels of impairment.

When you have an understanding of what is being tested and how you are being tested, you can better prepare for the test itself.

3. Avoid “Cheating” Tips and Methods

There is a common misconception that you can cheat a drug test. There are several ways that individuals attempt to cheat a drug test:

  1. Synthetic urine;
  2. Commercial detox products;
  3. Shaving off their hair;
  4. Adding adulterants to urine.

Drug tests and their capabilities have become more evolved and sophisticated, and it has become nearly impossible to “cheat” a test. Although drug tests are not always 100% accurate, and it is not unheard of to receive a false positive, there are no guaranteed methods for “tricking” a drug test. 

4. Bring Necessary Documentation and Identification

You want to be sure to bring any required documentation and identification to your drug test. Some employers will do drug tests on-site, but if you are being tested off-site at a drug-testing facility, you will generally need to bring some form of paperwork from your work so that your employer will be billed for the drug test. Most drug testing facilities require appointment confirmation paperwork or a confirmation email as well. 

You will also need to provide some form of identification. This will help the tester verify that no one is taking the test for someone. The following forms of identification are generally acceptable:

  • Drivers licenses;
  • Passports;
  • U.S. Visas;
  • Military ID.

5. Talk With Your Employer About Any Prescriptions

66% of all adults in the United States use prescription drugs regularly. If you are someone that is prescribed some form of medication, it is important to let your potential employer know about this. If you fail a drug test, you may not ever get the chance to explain that you are not using the drug recreationally. Be sure to tell your employer upfront so they know to expect that prescription to show up on your drug test. 

The (Americans with Disabilities Act) ADA allows employers to ask about prescription medicine when it is job-related or against company policy, so you may be asked to provide proof that the medication you are using is prescribed to you.  

6. Drink Water

If you are taking a urine drug test, you want to be sure to drink water before your test so that you don’t need to come back later when you can urinate. Be careful not to drink too much water so that you don’t get a negative dilute result on your drug test. While this doesn’t mean you failed, you will generally need to come back and retest at a later date. All you need is an extra glass of water. 

7. Exercise

Drugs like marijuana can be stored in fat cells. If you exercise, you can burn the fat cells and reduce the amount of time that your body gets rid of their residue. Make exercise part of your routine. It is best to focus on aerobic exercises for effectively burning fat cells, but even 30 to 45 minutes of light exercise daily can help speed up the process. 

8. Test Yourself at Home

A great way to determine if you are prepared for your drug test is by testing yourself at home. There are rapid urine tests, hair follicle tests, and saliva tests that you can do on your own at home. There is a misconception that at-home drug tests are not accurate, but they are.