Can you accidently fail drug testing?

Is it possible to fail drug testing from drinking tea or being in a room of people smoking marijuana?

In a blog last week we examined the ways in which you can potentially fail alcohol testing without drinking alcohol in Can a keto diet upset alcohol testing? In this week’s blog we’re taking a slight twist and looking at whether there are ways you can fail drug testing in the workplace or on the road without taking an illegal drug.

Can you fail drug testing without taking an illegal drug?

The simple answer is yes. It is possible to fail drug testing without taking an illegal drug or perhaps having any idea that you would fail drug testing. First, let’s look at some of the perhaps wacky ways in which you can fail, courtesy of an article in Live Science:

  • It’s been shown that if you’re in a room when someone is smoking cannabis, it is possible to fail drug testing for cannabis. Before you start to cross any cannabis users from your friend’s list, rest assured this is only in extreme cases. In a 2015 study, researches put six people who smoked marijuana in a sealed chamber, while six people who abstained sat next to them. After the hour, several of the nonsmokers tested positive in drug testing.
  • Anyone for a cuppa tea? Before you say yes, make sure it’s not coca tea. Coca tea is a popular drink in South America that is made from the leaves of the coca plant, the same plant that gives us cocaine. Not surprisingly, drinking the tea can lead to you failing drug testing.
  • If you enjoy a bagel or other food that contains poppy seeds, it’s worthwhile knowing that if you ate a lot of the product there is a chance you could fail drug testing. Again, this isn’t incredibly surprising, as poppy seeds come from the opium poppy, which is used for drugs such as morphine, codeine and heroin. Poppy seeds are cleaned as part of the process for being used in cooking, but some opiate residue still remains.
  • According to the Live Science article, certain soaps used in hospitals to wash babies shortly after birth may cause the babies to fail drug testing. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but we reckon this one isn’t too much of a problem, as can’t see too many babies driving a car of heading off to work!

While the above ways of failing drug testing are somewhat wacky, the main way to fail drug testing without perhaps realising it is not weird and that’s through medications.

For example, when codeine products were available over the counter in Australia, during the colder months, when more people were suffering from colds and other issues, Integrity Sampling often saw a rise in failed drug tests due to codeine. That’s because codeine is part of a group of drugs known as opioids, which include, as mentioned above, morphine and heroin. Benzodiazepines, generally prescribed for sleeping issues, can also cause issues.

The important thing to note about medications, is that while the side effects can make a person unsafe to drive a car or work in a safety-focussed role, generally the side effects are minimal or non-existent when these drugs are used correctly. The issues generally occur when prescribed and over-the-counter drugs are misused. The message is to always ask your doctor or pharmacist above possible side effects before taking any drug.

Note: It’s worth pointing out that for many of these ‘ways to fail drug testing’ examples, urine testing is the methodology used. Integrity Sampling recommends saliva drug testing, which has many advantages over urine testing.


Is it possible to fail drug testing from drinking tea or being in a room of people smoking marijuana? Credit Nick Jewell

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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