Top-10 Ways Employees Disguise Drug Abuse

May 1, 1998
Did you hear about the guy who tried to beat a drug test by drinking bleach? Beth Lindamood has, as well as dozens more stories like it. She has heard so many, in fact, that she has created her Top-10 list of the dumbest things employees have done to try to beat a drug test.

Lindamood, an expert in workplace drug abuse and a senior market analyst for Great American Insurance Companies, based Cincinnati, says the list shows that people will go to incredible lengths to hide their drug abuse. So, HR beware. Attempts to disguise drug abuse generally fall into three categories: 1) flushing the body with various fluids, 2) substituting someone else’s or a dog’s urine sample or 3) buying products designed to mask drug use. And although she admits some methods may occasionally succeed, the vast majority simply provide comic relief. "One guy drank liquid soap because he thought it would ‘clean out his system,’" she says.

Though often amusing, attempts to disguise drug abuse can cause real headaches for human resources staff and employers’ testing labs. As products and methods designed to thwart drug tests have proliferated, testing labs have had to devise new means to detect them. "The best way for an employer to prevent the use of adulterants is through random drug testing." Workplace drug abuse costs American businesses between $75 to $100 billion every year, she says.

Here’s Lindamood’s Top-10 list:

10. Drinking "Mary Jane’s SuperClean 13," a vial of liquid dishwashing fluid that sells for $29.95

9. Drinking liquid soap

8. Drinking vinegar

7. Adding ammonia, blood, Drain-O, lemon juice, table salt, Visine and WD-40 to urine specimens

6. Drinking bleach

5. Injecting "clean urine" into the bladder

4. Making your own powdered urine and substituting it "when you’re clean"

3. Submitting a "fresh" 40-degree urine sample

2. Substituting canine urine for human urine

1. Sending someone else to collection site for you.

Workforce, May 1998, Vol. 77, No. 5, p. 16.