How to Dispute a False Positive Drug Test ?

You may be an athlete, a job candidate or no one mentioned here. But you may have heard the name drug test. And you heard so many sad stories related to famous characters. They lost their whole career due to one positive drug test. But do you know at least 15% of these positive drug tests are false positive. Yes… that means even though you didn’t take a illegal drug you can be positive. So can you dispute a false positive drug test ? Yes you can. Let’s see how.

What is a drug test ?

There are many drugs that can increase your strength, endurance and working capacity. Most of these drugs are not prescribed by doctors without an actual reason. Sportsmen who take these drugs have an additional advantage of winning the competition. So sports authorities tend to test sportsmen to place a fair competition. Currently certain workplaces also check their candidates for positive drug tests.

What is positive drug test ?

When we take drugs they breakdown in our systems. These broken-down products are include in our blood, saliva, urine and various other secretions. When we take a illegal drugs, same thing happens. Certain tests with these secretions can detect these breakdown products from illegal drugs.

But sad story is there are some foods or drugs which are not illegal breakdown in to same products that illegal drugs give. Therefore even though you didn’t take an illegal drug you can be positive. This happens most of the times.

dispute false positive drug test
urine test strips – image by Lothar Drechsel from Adobe stock

What are the foods and drugs that can give false positive results?

Poppy seeds

Poppy seeds contain morphine and codeine which considered as illegal. But poppy seeds are used for normal uses as well. Doctors prescribe poppy seeds in constipation, cough and sleeping problems. And also certain foods like bagels, cakes are contain small amount of poppy seeds. But even a one tea spoon amount of poppy seeds can make you positive. In addition the demise from poppy seed can last in your blood stream up to 48 hours.

Earlier most of the cases with false positive drug tests due this. But most labs and the Department of Health and Human Services in the USA have identified this issue. And they are now increased the cut off levels up to 1999ng/ml. Therefore it helps to differentiate drug users from others. But there are still some labs use old cut off values. So if you positive and you are not sure about accidental intake of poppy seeds better recheck the lab reference values.

Foods with poppy seeds
Bagels contain poppy seeds – image by shymar27 from Adobe stock

Passive Marijuana Smoke

Tetrahydrocanabinoids ( THC ) is the substance that make you high after taking cannabis. Studies confirm that non smokers who are in a closed space with a smoker have THC in their urine. But the possibility of this happens in real world is rare. Unless you in a closed space and undergo the test soon after the incident. Even it positive, there’s a high chance of being negative in second test.

Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs

Ibuprofen is the commonest drug used in this drug class. This is commonly used as a pain medication. Ibuprofen breakdown in to barbiturates, PCP and cannabis. And test results can be positive in urine samples.

A recent study shows that people can test positive for marijuana in high dose like 800mg per day. And even positive for barbiturates in lower doses as well.

In such instances certain additional tests should be performed for verification. Different screening tests can help you to identify that Ibuprofen causes this false positive drug test results.

Anti Depressants

Anti depressants more commonly Sertraline have similar structure that benzodiazepines and amphetamines have. So after they broken down they give the same products that benzodiazepines gives. This tests can be positive for several days after you stopped the drugs also. And the current lab studies has no ability to detect the difference of these two.

So if you are taking medication for depression, panic attacks or OCD most probably you are on antidepressants. It’s better you informed the authorities about this prior to the test. So they can further investigate.

Sudafed or Pseudoephedrine

Doctors prescribe this drug for sinusitis, nasal congestion and allergies causing breathing difficulties. The main ingredient of this drug gives the breakdown products similar to amphetamines and methamphetamine. Since difficulties to differentiate these two, it’s better you stop medication before 48 hours to the test.


This is a commonly used drug in Corticosteroid drug class. Doctors prescribe this in inflammatory conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, adrenal gland disorders and certain cancers. This is a very effective drug.

But due to its steroid type stricture cause to give false positive drug test results. Prednisolone can gives positive results within hours and lasts up to days. So if you are unable to stop drugs before the test it’s better to mention it earlier. Because there are studies that can detect prednisolone use.

Baby Soap

This is a controversial fact. The famous baby soap products in Johnson &Johnsons, CVS Nighttime Baby Bath, Aveeno Soothing Relief Creamy Wash, and J&J Bedtime Bath are positive for THC, the active substance of cannabis. This can even cause congenital problems in babies also.

But researchers still discuss what is the exact process of this. There is no know possibility of this substance go through skin and present in urine. Some may think that soap may be washed in to the urine samples. But it is also not proven.

Anti HIV Drugs

Drugs for HIV and other anti-retroviral medications like efaviren contains breakdown products of benzodiazepines. The study was conducted about this. And it shows 98% cases are positive for benzodiazepines and marijuana. Therefore these medications also can give false positive drug test results.

Anti HIV drugs
pre exposure prophylaxis for HIV – image by Bowonpat from Adobe stock

Cold Medications

Most cold medications are over the counter drugs. They include bromphenaramine which ultimately broken-down to same products methane gives. So they can be positive in amphetamine drug test. Vick’s inhaler is a most commonly used inhaler for nasal congestion. And it has identified as a culprit to be positive in drug test. It contains levomethamphetamine which has similar structure to methamphetamine.

Weight Loss Pills

Doctors prescribe Phentamine as an appetite reducing drug to losing weight. But phentamine contains amphetamines. Most likely amphetamines helps to alter chemicals in brain and reduce sleep and reduce appetite. Therefore if you are on phentamine it’s better you have a proper prescription prior to the drug test.

Alcohol based products

You can get flagged for drinking alcohol. Yes of course. If you every day use hand sanitizers, mouth washes and breath cleaning products your blood, urine, saliva can include ethanol. Because most of these products are made by ethanol which is a breakdown product of alcohol. Even if you never drank you can be positive.


This is a rare instance. Most antibiotics are free from this. But anti tuberculosis drugs like Rifampacin can be positive for opiates in rapid urine drug test. This can gives a false positive drug test results even after 18 hours from taking the drug.

Cannabidiol ( CBD ) Oil

CBD oil is extracted from hemp plant. Hemp plant is a same family of cannabis sativa. CBD oil is used to pain relief and in some countries, even some states in the USA CBD oil is legal to use. In addition to that there are some products which contain small percentages of CBD oil. The positive results is depend on the amount you take. Urine tests are positive for marijuana in high amounts of intake.

Cannabidiol ( CBD ) Oil
Cannabidiol ( CBD ) Oil – image by HQUALITY from Adobe stock

Coca tea or Mate de coca

This is an herbal tea. Dried coca plant leaves are used to made this. This drink is native to South America which commonly used in Andes mountain range, Argentina, Bolivia and especially in Peru. This contains cocaine based alkaloids.

A cup of coca tea contains about 4.2 mg of organic coca alkaloids. It is similar to 20-30 mg of cocaine. So there’s no doubt you can be tested positive in drug screen even after one cup of coca tea.

Andean people use this tea as medicinal purposes. Although this is not proven, travellers use this to prevent altitude sickness.

This can be positive in urine up to 36 hours after drink. So it’s safe to undergo drug screen after some times.

Coca tea from Peru
Cup of Coca leaf tea – image by jobipro from Adobe stock

How to Dispute a False Positive Drug Test ?

If the results came as positive, but you are sure about that can’t be happened, read this carefully.

You have to memorize whether you take any drug or new food recently. If yes, it’s safe to keep the prescription of the drug. Or details of the foods you take.

And memorize whether there are situations that sample can get contaminated, like

  • You used wrong methods to collect and transport the specimen
  • Staff member collect the specimen without gloves
  • Anyone near the sample might be I’ll
  • The lab facilities are not adequate
  • The labelling procedure of the sample is gone wrong.

Any of this can happen.

The best way to do is ask for a second test. Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry test (GC-MS test) and the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography test (HPLC test) are the tests used to identify specific substances.

And if you are positive for alcohol, just do an alcohol screening on blood. In most cases foods and medications contain alcohol breakdown products not appear in blood. But drinking alcohol always gives positive results in blood test.

If You are actually Positive ?

You have to know there is 85% chance the results are correct. So if this happens, you can be depressed and feeling down. It’s better you talk with a family member, a friend or a social worker. There are plenty of places waiting to you to help. They can help you stand like past, with strong mind set. You can be a better person than you used to be.

Default image
Sapumal Edirisinghe
Articles: 32

One comment

  1. Jacqualine Matayoshi
    Jacqualine Matayoshi

    Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to take a look. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Outstanding blog and terrific design.

Leave a Reply