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Everyday Substances That Can Cause a False Positive Drug Test

June 25, 2019

Many times, people who have been “caught” with drugs in their systems use the term ‘false positive’ to try and buy their way out of trouble. Believe it or not, this is an actual thing. A lot of everyday products have been the cause of demise for many professionals as they lead to false positive drug results even without prior exposure to certain drugs. In any drug testing, false positive results are likely to occur.

What can cause a false positive drug result? At times, taking certain substances could result in breakdown to form metabolic forms of illicit drugs. Here are some of the most harmless substances that could lead to positive results in your drug test:

1. Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are harmless seeds that are usually used to treat sleeping difficulty, diarrhea, cough, and constipation. Some people even use the seeds while making cakes, fillings, and porridge. However, this beneficial substance may the cause of your demise as it leads to positive results when one is being tested for morphine or codeine. In its natural state, poppy seeds contain traces of both codeine and morphine. Eating a cookie that has been baked with about one teaspoon of poppy seed filling, is enough to yield a false positive drug test result for opiates in quantities way above the cutoff point. It has also been reported that poppy seeds can be detected even after 48 hours from the time of consumption or longer.

To combat this issue, most labs and the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States has increased the cut-off point to about 1999 ng/mL. This was also done to differentiate the drug users and those who enjoy eating poppy seeds as there is a noticeable difference in the number of opiates in the two groups.


2. Passive Weed Smoking

According to a study that was recently done, always being around people who smoke marijuana could lead to a positive result upon a drug test. The research was conducted by placing about 12 people, both smokers and non-smokers, in a closed room for some time. The non-smokers were later tested for marijuana in their urine, and their results came back positive.

However, such instances are rare in the real world and thus, unless one is closed in a room of smokers, there’s nothing to worry about. For the test results to come back positive, testing has to be done as soon as the exposure takes place.

3. Ibuprofen

A lot of routinely prescribed medication has been the source of failed drug tests for a long time. Ibuprofen is one of the main culprits in this group of drugs.

Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It’s the most common drug used for pain and inflammation and is also a source of false positives in numerous drug tests. Such drugs interact with urine, leading to false positive drug test results for a barbiturate, PCP, and cannabis.

In a recently conducted research, a group of about 60 subjects was prescribed ibuprofen in different doses. A lot of those who were taking high doses of above 800mg/ day and below the maximum dose, 1200mg/ day, tested positive for marijuana. Those taking lower doses tested positive for barbiturates without prior exposure to the drug.

If a patient claims to be on ibuprofen, verification should be done using additional tests and different screening tests to avoid consequences on the patient’s side.

4. Sertraline

This drug, like any other antidepressant, is a source of many false positives. Benzodiazepine typically shows up in drug tests due to the presence of Sertraline without there being a previous contact with a benzodiazepine. Sertraline and other antidepressants contain chemical structures that are more or less similar to that of benzodiazepine and amphetamines. When broken down in the body, Sertraline yields the same by-products as when a benzodiazepine is broken down.

Unfortunately, drug screening cannot determine the use of antidepressants and thus in cases such as pre-employment drug screening, one may be dismissed without further testing. It is therefore essential to inform the tester that you are under antidepressants so that confirmatory tests are also done.

 5. Sudafed

Sudafed is also known as Pseudoephedrine. It is used to help treat cases of sinusitis, allergies that cause breathing problems as well as nasal congestion. Its main ingredient is a form of manufactured amphetamine and thus could lead to false positive results for amphetamines or methamphetamines.  For this reason, people are advised to avoid using Sudafed at least 48 hours before a drug test.

6. Prednisone

This is a drug that belongs to the broad class of substances known as glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids family of medication is used to treat inflammation caused by asthma or rheumatoid conditions. It is also used in the suppression of the immune system and treatment of high blood calcium levels as a result of cancer and insufficiency of the adrenal gland.

Use of Prednisone a few days or hours before a drug test could result in positive results. If a drug screen for steroids is being done, Prednisone could be the cause of a false positive because it is a steroid type of drug.

However, the good news is that false positives as a result of Prednisone use can be confirmed through a variety of tests.

 7. Baby Soap

babysoap Substances That Can Cause a Positive Drug Test

Newborns who have congenital anomalies are usually tested to see whether the mother was using drugs during pregnancy. Solvents such as Johnson &Johnsons, CVS Nighttime Baby Bath, Aveeno Soothing Relief Creamy Wash, and J&J Bedtime Bath made most infants who used them, test positive for cannabis. This is even without prior use of marijuana by the mother.

Although health professionals still don’t know why the soaps lead to positive test results, it is possible that some of the soap ingredients contain the same chemical structure as THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. It is still not known how the soap residues on the skin make their way to the urine, but some researchers have suggested that soap may have been washed into the urine sample, but this is still under speculation.


8. Antiretroviral drugs

Most antiretroviral drugs contain efavirenz, which usually results in positive tests for benzodiazepine. In a recently conducted research, about 100 patients were gathered with half the study cohort on an HIV drug regimen containing efavirenz and the other half on a regimen with no efavirenz. Ninety-eight percent of the subjects on a drug regimen containing efavirenz tested positive for benzodiazepines and marijuana. After further testing, only one person was found to have been using benzodiazepines.

9. Cold Medication

Some over the counter drugs used to treat colds contain substances that test positive in amphetamine drug tests. Most medications used to treat colds contain elements such as brompheniramine which, when broken down, yield the same products produced when met-amphetamines are metabolized.

A particular example is Vick’s inhaler, which is commonly used to treat nasal congestion as a result of flu. Vick’s inhaler contains a chemical substance known as levomethamphetamine which has the same chemical structure as methamphetamine.

10. Food

Bread Everyday Substances That Can Cause a False Positive Drug Test

Surprisingly, you could test positive for alcohol once you consume vast amounts of food that contain yeast. This is possible because as yeast is fermented, ethanol is produced as a by-product and could end up being detected using a breathalyzer. For this reason, foods such as bread and pizza should be avoided a few hours before a drug test.

Hemp seeds which are a crucial ingredient in granola bars can also result in positive tests for cannabis or its active ingredient, THC.

Ripe fruits could also lead to positive tests for alcohol. The ripe fruit is fermented and produces alcohol, which is produced in enough amounts for it to be detected.


How to Dispute Positive Tests

The best way to dispute a drug test that you suspect is a false positive drug test is by asking for additional tests that confirm the claim.

False positive drug test results for alcohol can be confirmed through the use of blood screening. Most of the time, foods, and substances that cause positive alcohol tests don’t reach the bloodstream in the form of alcohol, and thus, blood tests are used as confirmation.

Unexpected false positive drug test results should be confirmed using methods such as the Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry test (GC-MS test) and the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography test (HPLC test). These are advanced tests done to selectively separate substances in a way that makes it possible to identify a drug substance without the possibility of interference as a result of ingestion of other materials. This is done by separating every element found in urine and marking them for identification.


What If the Drug Test Turns Out to Be Actually Positive?

There are cases when the drug test results are not false positive. Instead, they are genuinely positive indicating that you are or have been on drugs in these cases. Ascendant New York is always ready to help to get people back on their feet again and into the workplace as soon as possible. We have ample facilities as well as professional medical and support staff that will help you fully attain a drug-free lifestyle. We admit new patients seven days a week.


Drug abuse destroys relationships and becomes a nuisance to a lot of people going on to affect your school or work performance. The health effects might also be too adverse if corrective measures are not taken early. Furthermore, quitting might also prove to be difficult for you unless external help is brought in. Ascendant New York offers various programs, depending on the severity of your addiction. We offer in-patient and out-patient drug detox programs tailored to be the best solution for you. The main goal of Ascendant New York to help your body heal from continuous usage of drugs and alcohol through medicine, therapy, and monitoring.

 Experienced Team Ready to Serve You

With our experienced team, We have various programs suited for each patient which will help you quit drug abuse while also minimizing the severity of withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, anxiety, mood disturbances, and sleep deprivation. Therapy and detox ensure your body gradually gains strength and independence from drugs in a controlled way. In-Patient, the results will, of course, be more beneficial. Living in a controlled and monitored environment is suitable for a speedy recovery.

Ascendant New York is a licensed drug detox center experienced with dealing with all kinds of drug treatment and therapy for all types of drug addiction. So far, we have proudly supported over (1000+) to complete their recovery and rehabilitation program and resume their healthy lives. Our professional teams have come up with concise plans and expert programs which have been tested and proven to aid in quick and efficient recovery from drug and substance abuse. We are confident of our excellent alcohol and drug rehabilitation services, which are unique, different, and effective, unlike many others.

Tailored and Customized Recovery Journey

We tailor and customize recovery procedures and schedules to ensure maximum and sure recovery of our clients. Our team is bound to fulfill your expectations, especially with the big range of skills we have acquired over time. This is coupled with the dealing with worst to minor drug detox programs, ensures we deliver to our client’s expectations. 


As a plus, we price our packages depending on the client’s condition and thus provide you get to experience a different program with your preferences. Most of all, we assure our clients always to be there in case of anything. We also have fewer cases of patient relapses after the full detox program.

 Contact us today to learn more about the detox programs we have to offer.


You never realized how much of a positive person you are until you had to take a drug test after ingesting a bagel with lots of poppy seeds. We’d recommend that you avoid a bagel breakfast or being a passive smoker ahead of a mandatory drug test day at your company, else you’ll have some serious explaining to do while disputing the drug results. Ibuprofen, Sertraline, Sudafed, prednisone, baby soap, antiretroviral drugs, cold medication, and foods that contain high amounts of yeast have been known to show a false positive result.

Can you picture your name being dragged in mud because of testing positive for drug use? In any drug test, getting a false positive is a real possibility. You can test positive even though you have not actively used a drug. It may bring a false positive after the ingestion of natural, harmless substances. These include food with yeast, cold medication, poppy seeds, ibuprofen, and antiretroviral drugs. Some of these substances ingest these substances for simple reasons like treatment for diseases and ingredients in snacks. However, simple drug screenings often show a false positive if they do it a day or two after their consumption. This is why a second test is necessary to verify the initial results. The false positive can lead to unwarranted consequences like termination of employment or unmerited accusations. 

Increasingly, random tests at the workplace and the use of home-testing kits are becoming popular. Therefore, there is a need for accurate, confirmatory drug screening. Drug test centers can help dispel any doubts over drug screening. Drug test centers can verify the test results and distinguish false positives from actual positive results. If the initial drug screening or immunoassay results are positive, taking a second confirmatory test or GC-MS (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry) test may be necessary. Immunoassay is usually cheaper, faster, and can screen more people than GC-MS tests. It is also important for drug test centers to keep a list of these substances to help distinguish false results from positive results.

When collecting the biological specimen, the drug test center should split the biological specimen into two samples. One sample is for immunoassay and, in case of a positive result, the other forwarded to equipped centers like drug detox centers for confirmation. The tests by the detox center are more accurate. Drug test centers  may also help stakeholders understand false positives and save you from unmerited consequences. Their verified results can help distinguish between false positives in the first test from drug users that need help.

 In the event of a false positive result, the best way to dispute is by asking for additional tests to be conducted to confirm the first result. If the drug test turns out to be a real positive, it is advisable for you to treat the addiction to alcohol and substance abuse by visiting a drug detox center near you.

As an individual, drug testing company, or client, you should identify all substances that may lead to a false positive result. It is equally important for the drug testing facility to have a list of elements that can lead to a false negative or positive result to combat the effects of the elements when conducting a drug test. In cases where one tests positive for drugs and alcohol, drug detox center near you should be the next step to help you live a healthy lifestyle free of alcohol and drugs. At Ascendant New York we are a fully certified drug detox facility located in the heart of Manhattan that can help you in your recovery journey. 

Contact us today to learn more about our various detox programs that we have in store for you.

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