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Supplements and False Positive Drug Tests: What You Need to Know

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When it comes to taking supplements, it's important to know that some may cause a false positive drug test result. This can be frustrating, especially if you're just trying to improve your health. While most supplements won't trigger a drug test issue, some may cause a false alarm.

The FDA does not regulate supplements, so it's up to the individual to be aware of what they're taking. Supplements containing poppy seeds, vitamin B12, Kava, and some prescription medications like Xanax are known to cause false positive drug test results. However, these instances are rare.

It's important to note that false positive drug tests can also occur due to improper handling of urine samples, rather than the supplements themselves. This can be a frustrating experience for anyone who has taken supplements for health reasons.

Research has also shown that even consuming energy drinks shortly before a drug test can result in a positive test for opiates. This can be an embarrassing situation for those who weren't using any drugs, yet their test results suggest otherwise. While a test can be retaken to correct the issue, it doesn't erase the discomfort of a surprise positive drug test from supplements.

Understanding Drug Tests: What They Are and How They Work

Before diving into the question of whether supplements show up on drug tests, it's important to understand what a drug test is and how it works.

A drug test is a technical analysis of a biological sample, such as urine, hair, blood, sweat, or saliva, to determine the presence or absence of specified drugs or their metabolites. The most common type of drug test is the urine drug test, as it is the cheapest and easiest to administer.

A urine drug test can detect a variety of drugs, including amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, phencyclidine (PCP), and propoxyphene. However, it's important to note that the list above is not exhaustive, as there are many other drugs that can be detected through a drug test.

During a drug test, a person is asked to provide a urine sample, which is then tested for the presence of certain drugs or their metabolites. If a drug is detected, it will show up on the drug test results. These results are then reported to the organization or individual who requested the drug test.

Why They are Needed

Drug tests are used for various reasons and can be required in different situations. The most common reason for a drug test is for employment. Many employers require their employees to take a drug test before they are hired or randomly during their employment as a condition of employment.

Apart from employment, there are other situations where people may need to take a drug test. For example, athletes may need to take drug tests as part of their sports activities to ensure a level playing field. Similarly, individuals who are on probation or parole may need to take drug tests as part of their requirements.

Another reason why people may need to take a drug test is to donate blood. Blood donation centers have strict requirements for donors and may require a drug test before accepting blood donations.

Do Supplements Show Up on Drug Tests?

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding drug tests is whether supplements show up on drug tests. The answer is, in most cases, no.

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way that medications are. This means that there is no guarantee that the supplement you are taking is safe or that the ingredients listed on the label are actually in the product.

While most supplements won't cause a false positive on a drug test, there are some that might. For example, eating poppy seeds can lead to a false positive result for opioids like morphine, codeine, and oxycodone. Taking large doses of vitamin B12 can result in a false positive for amphetamines. And consuming vanilla extract may even trigger a failed drug test for alcohol consumption if taken too close to the time of the test.

It's also important to note that supplements that contain THC, such as CBD products, can cause you to fail a drug test if you have consumed them prior to the test. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana, and it can cause you to test positive for marijuana on a drug test.

False Negative Drug Tests

A false negative drug test occurs when someone is told that they have tested negative for drugs, even though they have used them. This can be a distressing and frustrating experience, as it can lead to job loss, legal penalties, or other negative consequences.

There are several reasons why a false negative drug test may occur. One possibility is that the test was not performed correctly or that the wrong type of test was used. Another possibility is that the person administering the test did not follow the instructions correctly.

It is also possible for certain drugs not to show up on a drug test even if they have been used. This can happen if the drug has already cleared the person's system by the time the test is conducted. Additionally, some drugs are designed to evade drug tests, making it difficult to detect them through standard testing methods.

Overall, false negative drug tests can be a serious issue that can lead to negative consequences. It's important to ensure that drug tests are conducted correctly and that the appropriate testing methods are used to avoid false negative results. If you believe that you have received a false negative drug test, it may be helpful to speak with a medical professional or legal expert to explore your options.

Supplements to Avoid Before a Drug Test

If you're scheduled for a drug test, it's important to avoid taking any supplements for at least two weeks before the test. This will allow your body to completely flush the supplements from your system and give you the best chance of passing the drug test.

It's also important to be mindful of what you eat or drink in the days leading up to the test. Some supplements, such as those containing poppy seeds or large amounts of vitamin B12, can cause false positive results for opioids or amphetamines. Similarly, CBD products that contain THC can also cause you to fail a drug test.

While supplements can provide many health benefits, it's important to be cautious when taking them, especially if you are subject to drug testing. If you are unsure about whether a particular supplement could cause issues with your drug test, it's always best to consult with your doctor beforehand.

If you do receive a false positive result on a drug test, it's important to ask for further testing to confirm the result. A deeper analysis can often reveal that the initial result was incorrect, providing you with the opportunity to avoid any negative consequences.

Can Turmeric Cause a False Positive on a Drug Test?

Turmeric is a popular spice that is often promoted for its health benefits. However, there is a chemical component in turmeric known as curcumin that can give false positives in drug screenings. This means that if you use turmeric and are subject to drug testing, it is possible that curcumin may make it appear as though you have used cannabis.

To avoid any confusion, it is important to understand how long turmeric stays in your system. Turmeric is fat-soluble, meaning it can build up in your body over time and be released into your urine even if you haven't consumed it for a while. This is why turmeric may show up on a drug test even if you haven't used it recently.

While the chances of a false positive drug test due to turmeric consumption are relatively low, it is still important to be aware of this potential risk. If you are concerned about the impact of turmeric on drug test results, it is advisable to avoid consuming turmeric products for several days prior to the test.

Wrapping Up

Drug tests are used for various reasons, including employment, sports activities, probation, and blood donations. The most common type of drug test is the urine drug test, which can detect various types of drugs, including amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, PCP, and propoxyphene.

While most supplements will not show up on a drug test, some can cause false positive results. For example, poppy seeds, vitamin B12, and CBD products containing THC can all cause issues with drug tests. Turmeric, on the other hand, can cause false positive results for cannabis due to its curcumin content.

To avoid any confusion or issues with drug tests, it's best to refrain from taking any supplements for at least two weeks before the test. It's also important to be mindful of what you eat or drink in the days leading up to the test.

In the end, drug tests are an important tool for maintaining safety and well-being in various contexts. By understanding how drug tests work and being cautious with supplements, you can avoid any potential issues and ensure that your test results are accurate.

Caroline Buckee

Caroline Flannigan is an epidemiologist. She is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and is the Associate Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

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