Synthetic urine for drug test - yay or nay?
August 27, 2015 12:53 PM   Subscribe

My friend just found out that she has a drug test for her job coming up in a few days. The problem is that she just came home from Colorado and apparently smoked... umm... a lot of marijuana. it's still illegal in her home state and she is freaking out since she doesn't want to lose her job. she was told by her friend that she would pass with synthetic urine no problem and she is planning on using it. Is synthetic urine really the answer? If so what kind?

I suggested just drinking a lot of water since i heard about that. but she has a friend who tried flushing with water and failed the test. so she doesn't want to try that. She has another friend who claims that he has many friends who have passed with the synthetic urine. My friend thinks the syn. urine is her only chance to pass but I don't know... wouldn't they be able to detect something like that? I don't get it. but I told her people on this site are smart so I would ask you folks.

would synthetic urine really help her pass the test? What kind? The one her friend recommended to her was called xstream. She also heard quickfix was good. The test is in two days. Please help me help her, I worry how she will support herself if she fails this as i know she is financially strapped.
posted by Thanquol180 to Work & Money (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Reddit comment from two years ago says maybe, but don't count on it.

When I knew folks who had to pass tests, they packed on the pounds before the test and used hidden urine from a clean friend of the same sex.

Fair warning: as of this writing, even if marijuana is completely legal in a state, that does NOT mean that an employer in that state is prohibited from firing an employee for using it.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:59 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I recently sat in on a workshop for supervisors on the drug screening process for our employees. The nurse who ran the workshop went over all of the different methods people try to beat the test. Without getting into all of the details, testing centers are definitely aware of an on the lookout for fake urine.
posted by JennyJupiter at 1:14 PM on August 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

I have had friends that just fill a squirt bottle like a visine bottle of synthetic urine to their leg or stomach so it's warm. The main way they check for fake urine is temperature...I've seen some things that using skiing hand warmers to warm up synthetic urine.
posted by ill3 at 1:21 PM on August 27, 2015

If the test is couple of days away, that's enough time to buy a cleanse kit and a home test to see if she can cleanse it out. If not, then perhaps try a proxy...
posted by homesickness at 2:06 PM on August 27, 2015

NORML's guide

CVS, etc have home testing kits, which might be worth a try to see whether she's susceptible.
posted by rhizome at 2:16 PM on August 27, 2015

So, a friend's sister works for a urine testing facility (despite being a big ol' stoner herself) and the general answer is that buying products for this doesn't work. More specifically, it depends on which tests they're using, what their testing procedure is, and how much your friend has used. Dilution seems like the best bet — drinking as much water as possible and not giving them the first piss of the day will generally help. Even then it can be a bit of a crapshoot.

Another route, which I used years ago, was getting a doctor's note that as a vegetarian, the doctor had instructed me to get some B vitamins from a hemp-seed supplement that, as the note said, "was sometimes known to produce false positives." It ended up being moot — apparently the amount I'd had didn't show in the test — but since I talked with the HR folks ahead of time, what they told me was that with this note, if it did come back with the "false positive," they'd tell me and give me a month to "clear the supplements out of my system," at which point I'd be retested.

But this assumes that your friend 1) can find a friendly/hippy doctor on short notice; 2) has HR people whom she can talk to and not get in trouble with, and 3) semi-reasonable employers. If they're really reasonable it might not even be that big of a deal — I know some folks who work in a governmental organization who were told that their legally mandated test had shown THC, which their bosses were sure was a testing error, so they would be retested in a month and were encouraged to "study for it." It depends on the culture of the job and how replaceable your friend's position is (these folks were mid-level engineers in a college town).
posted by klangklangston at 2:35 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

So - is there any reason your friend couldn't disclose her legal Colorado use to her employer in advance of the test? Simultaneously explaining, of course, that her use was limited to that legal context and will not occur in her home state, where marijuana is illegal?

That, of course, would also assume a semi-reasonable employer.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 3:36 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

So - is there any reason your friend couldn't disclose her legal Colorado use to her employer in advance of the test? Simultaneously explaining, of course, that her use was limited to that legal context and will not occur in her home state, where marijuana is illegal?

They have no obligation to do this, and just because it's legal there doesn't change the fact that it's federally illegal. Many companies have insurance or licensing reasons that require them to test for and enforce this.

Speaking from experience the only thing that really works is proxy urine from someone of the same sex. And it needs to be relatively fresh, and body temperature.
posted by emptythought at 4:56 PM on August 27, 2015

Without knowing the companies policies and tendencies, it's hard to give advice. But, she may consider the following:

"What happens if I test positive?"
Is it insta-fire, or is their an appeals process by which you could retest? Just take the test, fail, claim its a false positive, and then drag it out for a two weeks with an appeals process until she knows she can pass.

And, "what happens if I just don't take the test"?
I would also consider just skipping the test and saying, "oh crap, I forgot, let me reschedule." Delay it for a couple weeks, and drink a lot of water during that time.

If she's not likely to get fired on the spot, has a good history as a good employee, etc, then I'd strongly consider one of the above routes. It may help to seek out anecdotal evidence of what has happened when people have failed in the past.

But it may be an insta-fire, zero tolerance company. In which case I suggest a dramatic "take this job and shove it" momement, and don't take the test. She doesn't want to work there anyway.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:51 PM on August 27, 2015

I feel like trying to cheat the test with synthetic urine and getting found out would be so much worse than failing with your own urine and saying, "Huh? What's up with that? Can I take a retest?"
Using synthetic urine shows that you're trying to pass when you know that you can't. I'm sure that I've read about people who passed the test when they really didn't expect to, so maybe your friend doesn't have to worry too much anyway?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 6:12 PM on August 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

Oh my god, no. Getting busted for this will definitely get a person unemployed.

Your friend should check the policy for coming clean about use prior to the test, because frequently this results in some leniency while completing some classes or what not.
posted by mibo at 7:13 PM on August 27, 2015

I would also consider just skipping the test and saying, "oh crap, I forgot, let me reschedule."

Yeah if I was your friend I'd try to figure out exactly what the consequences are for "forgetting" and missing to get the test done for a while. Or come up with some scheduling requirements that make it hard to get into the testing center for a while. Whatever. Might be worth accruing a couple of stern warnings before going just to buy time.

Also ... most drug tests are not just "pass" or "fail". There's also a "dilute" result, which is what you get if you over-hydrate to the point where you're basically peeing out water. Depending on the testing requirements, this might be counted as a pass, or it might be counted as a sort of "soft fail" requiring a retest. A discussion from a pro-testing source here. It might be worth playing the hydration game and aiming for a "dilute-pass" result the first time around, just on the odds that it triggers a retest.

Having a "dilute" / "soft fail" is very likely a lot better than getting caught messing around with fake urine. (Honestly, getting a fail for cannabis alone might be better than getting caught with fake urine.)

It's hard to say whether talking candidly to someone at the company might be a good or bad idea; that depends entirely on the company culture and who's available to talk to. Obviously it's a sensitive subject, but it might be worth trying to build a rapport with someone (maybe a manager but outside of HR?) and find out things like whether the test deadline can be stretched, whether the company even cares about cannabis (some places really only care about opiates and meth, but aren't about to flat-out say that), and whether pissing hot on a single test is enough to get a person instantly fired, or if it just triggers a retest. All of those things figure into the calculus.

Or so I hear. From friends.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:47 PM on August 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

A...friend of mine...passed a urinalysis with a powdered urine kit from It comes with detailed instructions. The "sample" was given at a major lab facility such as Quest.
posted by gnutron at 8:39 PM on August 27, 2015

why synthetic? she can buy real powdered urine in a kit. she should do that.
posted by nadawi at 10:53 PM on August 27, 2015

I'd be extremely careful if going the over-hydration route. People--including young, healthy people--have died from electrolyte imbalance when overhydrating.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 10:56 PM on August 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Stay away from the synthetic urine. I've read a lot about this for uh, a friend, and there are specific things they look for that will tell them if it's synthetic. I believe there's also a test to see if synthetic urine was used. I'm sure it has and could work, but it seems unlikely and I don't think your friend should risk it. I think her best bet is probably going to be getting urine from someone else.

That being said, I agree with others that say she should try talking to management, if possible. Would they be understanding if she said "Hey, I just got back from Colorado where pot is legal there?"
posted by Autumn at 10:59 PM on August 27, 2015

I'd be extremely careful if going the over-hydration route. People--including young, healthy people--have died from electrolyte imbalance when overhydrating.

IANAD, but I remember looking this up at some point and finding that healthy kidneys can clear about 0.8-1 liter per hour, and from browsing around some high-profile deaths it looks like the amounts have killed people are typically closer to 6L, and/or were paired with intense physical activity.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:30 PM on August 27, 2015

Give her your urine
posted by Kwadeng at 11:30 PM on August 27, 2015

Hyponatremia in this context would take a lot of work.
posted by rhizome at 1:20 AM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


She needs to be honest and fail the drug test, with explanation. If she is a good employee, they may just reprimand her and keep a close eye on her, which she clearly needs. If they have been looking for a reason to fire her, then this gives them one. Might as well get it over with. Since money is an issue, perhaps this could be her chance to change her life into something where money isn't an issue.
posted by myselfasme at 5:40 AM on August 28, 2015

FYI I am given to understand some of the drug test passes with various tricks are because some labs just collect the sample and then randomly check those, instead of checking all of them. Someone may have passed just because their sample didn't get picked for testing, rather than because the trick worked.
posted by telophase at 10:42 AM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Substitution is the answer here. I have no qualms about cheating drug tests since I think they are immoral to begin with. Do not try dilution first, as all that will get you is a free pass into a directly observed test, which makes substitution much more difficult.

What you do is this: Go to a pharmacy and buy one those TSA sized shampoo bottles and a thermometer. Wash it well and rinse it even more thoroughly. Stop by a clean friend of the same gender's house on the way to the testing center and have them pee in a container. Transfer said pee into shampoo bottle. Stash the bottle in friend's bra, underneath the breast. Come test time, pop it open, put the pee in the cup, pee a little in the toilet to make it look legit, and hand over the sample.

Beforehand, practice opening the bottle quietly (and the rest of the process) with water in the bottle so that nerves will not be an issue. To ensure temperature won't be an issue, heat some water in the bottle to body temp in the microwave, stash it in the bra for 30 minutes and measure the temperature drop. Re-stash and measure after an hour, continuing until the temperature stabilizes. This will give you an accurate idea of how long you have between getting a sample and using the sample. If your friend is like the people I know who have done this, it will stabilize at a warm enough temperature that it can be stored for several hours before cooling too much to be used.
posted by wierdo at 3:25 PM on August 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

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