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By Barry Cooper
Co-Authored by Taylor Cooper
Drug testing is an $8-billion industry in America. Everyone from convicted criminals, to job applicants and even students are subjected to drug testing. It seems that the land of the free never ceases it’s ongoing fight against personal liberties and alternative lifestyles.
Despite the fact that 31 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and 9 states have fully legalized cannabis for recreational use, only a handful of states offer protection of an employees right to use cannabis medicinally; and even fewer extend that protection to law abiding non-medical users.
Of course, cannabis is rarely the only drug tested for, and throughout the “war on drugs”, the test industry has developed a way detect virtually any substance, through almost any testing method. However, these tests are historically easy to hoodwink.
While the crystallized masking agent or body flushes of the past are easily detectable today and will result in an immediate “Positive” test result, there are still countless methods and substances to beat almost any modern drug test. The key is understanding the science behind drug testing.
The vast majority of drug tests, be it a urine, blood or hair analysis, can detect either the drug itself, or the protein that drug metabolized into in the body. This cannot confirm when a drug was taken or how much was consumed, only that an individual had a significant amount of the drug in their system within a period of time roughly equal to the half-life of the metabolite in the body. Of course, this number varies dramatically between different substances, depending largely on the part of the body the drug metabolites bind to.
For example, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) metabolizes into 11-Nor-9-Carboxy-THC (THC-COOH), which has a much longer half life and binds to fat cells in the body. The metabolite is then excreted primarily through the renal system, meaning that cannabis remains detectable in urine for up to 3 months for users with a high body fat content and heavy cannabis use.
Other drugs may bind to different areas and will always remain detectable for a much shorter time than cannabis:
- Cocaine metabolizes into benzoylecgonine in the liver and remains detectable in the bloodstream for about a week in heavy users.
- Different types of amphetamines (including methamphetamine) can metabolizes into one another and will bind to proteins in your blood plasma, remaining detectable in body fluids for 3-5 days.
- Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, aka Ecstasy) is technically another amphetamine derivative, but it’s structure makes it more chemically similar to psychedelic mescaline. As such, this substance is metabolized by the liver and remains in the body longer than other amphetamines, particularly in saliva, remaining detectable up to 4 days after ingestion.
- Opioid based drugs (oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, heroin, etc.) can vary significantly in their structure and methods of action, but are typically metabolized by the Cytochrome P450 (CYP) protein system which is responsible for breaking down a number of psychoactive substances. Most opioids remain detectable in the body for up to 4 days
- Benzodiazepines (Xanax) are also metabolized by the CYP system. Typically detectable for up to a week for recommended medical users, prolonged use (exceeding 1 year) of benzos can remain detectable for up to 6 weeks.
No matter the drug, modern tests of all types can detect most drugs so the type of test is largely dependent on the needs and financial resources of the organization ordering the test.
The most common, least expensive and easiest test to prepare for is a urinalysis. Used most commonly for employment screening and probation enforcement, urinalysis drug detection relies on a process called immunoassay, where the urine is introduced to a panel containing antibodies that will bind to any drug metabolites present, inducing a color change reaction. Most drugs remain detectable for the longest amount of time through urine, but the urine tests are also the most susceptible to manipulation.
As mentioned above, nearly all testing companies can now detect masking agents so they are not an option for passing. Likewise, drinking massive amounts of water before a test to flush your system may result in a negative result, but will frequently result in a failed test if the testing company or collectors detect excessive water in the sample. That is unless you are compensating for it.
Day-of-test detox drinks do not include a masking agent and are thus undetectable. Rather, they include a large dose of diuretics to induce urination and include instructions to drink a large amount of water in order to flush the system, but also supplement large amounts of niacin and other minerals to maintain a natural yellow color and pH level. If done correctly, a day-of-test detox drink can guarantee a negative test for even the heaviest users of any body type.
A blood analysis drug test is similar in principle (though significantly more expensive) to a urinalysis, in that antibodies are used to bind to drug metabolites present in the blood.
Though blood tests typically have shorter detection periods than a urine test, it can take much longer to prepare for a blood test. While your renal system can be flushed for a short time, passing a blood test after drug use requires a true detox.
For most drugs, your body will naturally detoxify itself in less than a week. So, with enough notice and proper abstinence, you can pass without any other intervention. Heavy use of cannabis and other drugs with significantly longer half-lives will require a full blood detox.
These typically come as a regimen of natural herbal detox pills to be taken over the course of several days (depending on the severity of intoxication and body mass) along with a restricted diet. If followed properly, a true blood detox will leave your body completely clean of drug and non-drug related toxins.
Saliva analysis is a relatively new form of drug testing and is used primarily by traffic enforcement officers. Unlike other tests which detect drug metabolites, saliva tests can only detect the presence of the drug itself (such as delta-9-THC instead of THC-COOH).
Because of this, saliva tests are used to detect present or recent intoxication (similar to a breathalyzer), but are ineffective at detecting past drug use.
Saliva tests can typically detect use within the past 2 hours, but a proper mouthwash containing natural oral cleansing ingredients (such as witch hazel, mint and aloe) can guarantee up to half an hour of protection against testing.
Bear in mind: saliva testing is still rather new and though there isn’t yet a prominent way of detecting masking agents for saliva, it is a developing field and should be addressed with caution. The best way to pass a saliva test is to not drive intoxicated.
The final and most comprehensive form of drug testing is hair analysis. Proteins from all ingested substances are deposited into the hair and can remain fully detectable, for up to 90 days.
Of course the most effective method to beating a hair test is to destroy the hair. Bleaching and shaving are the most effective methods for this but can be viewed as suspicious.
This could result in an automatic fail for not being able to provide a viable sample, and may be expressly monitored and forbidden by law enforcement.
The next option is an aloe based detox shampoo. While many of these shampoos have proven to be very effective with multiple washes, results can vary drastically with hair type and may depend on the severity of testing parameters.
Drug testing is a prominent holdover from the war on drugs. It can stand in the way of your livelihood, your family and even your freedom. In a society still so terrified of drugs, it may not be an effective time to fight that norm, but with a solid understanding of what you’re up against and proper planning, you can fight the system, live your life the way you want, free of the fear of someone else’s totalitarian fantasy.
Visit our page How to Pass a Drug Test 2018 to learn more from author Barry Cooper about the options and resources available to guarantee that you pass your drug test.