The go-to test for drugs is the urine test. That's because it is incredibly easy to administer. Rather than getting someone who may be squeamish about needles to sit still for a blood tests, all they have to do is pee in a cup and hand it over. Unfortunately, it is also pretty easy for those who want to thwart the results of those tests to do so.
All one has to do is Google the ways in which they can cheat a urine test and they will find over a million hits. Some of those hits are even detailed blog posts that go into step-by-step instructions on what to do to beat a urine test, going so far as to list the kinds of interceptive devices they can buy and even how they can go about obtaining synthetic urine. The purpose of these items is to help someone whose drug use would show up on a drug test to instead produce a clean result for the purposes of defeating the court system or obtaining employment.
What is even more disconcerting, however, is how close synthetic urine comes to the real thing. In fact, a Quest lab in Denver discovered that once synthetic urine is warmed, it is practically identical to the real thing. The same lab also discovered that those who happened to realize that the urine was, in fact, fake did not bring it to anyone's attention, instead choosing to ignore it and contributing to the problem.
While it is a known fact that people are cheating on their urine drug tests, especially as the opiate and heroin epidemic rages on, there is no hard evidence to show to what extent drug tests are being cheated. This is, unfortunately, because the methods used to test such a thing can be easily swayed.
For instance, research presented last year at the American Pain Management Conference, which took place in San Antonio, Texas, showed that 98 percent of urine samples that contained synthetic urine went undetected. Further, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) believes that at least 10 percent of all of the country's samples may, in fact, be tainted.
So how can we solve this problem? Watching someone pee into a cup may seem like a solution that is easy enough, but it's unreasonable in practice. Not only is that easy to do a consistent basis, but it is also cost-prohibitive to either a) take someone away from his or her job long enough to watch a patient urinate, or b) hire someone specifically for the role. Worse still is that this would not fix the problem, as there are prosthetic devices available that mimic the human anatomy and can fool the observer into thinking that the patient is truly urinating.
Observation works best when dealing with things like saliva, blood, and hair samples. However, each of these testing methods has also been proven to have legitimate weaknesses in that they have difficulty detecting recent drug use. They're also terrible at spotting the newer synthetics, as they haven't had the chance to be updated. The only true solution is to develop a more improved version of the drug test, and to do so quickly.