February 29, 1996 in City

There’s More Than One Way To Fail Drug Test

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:column

A river of humanity runs through this nondescript Spokane office building on Second Avenue. Take my advice and try not to get any overflow on your shoes.

I wasn’t so lucky the other day when I voluntarily stepped inside to take my very first drug screening.

The good news is that I was found free of mind-bending illegal substances - a fact that may shock some of my readers and more than a few disgruntled city officials.

The bad news, I’m ashamed to report, is that I thoroughly fumbled the urine test. More on that mess later.

I took the exam at the invitation of Dr. Paula Lantsberger, an internal medicine and toxicology specialist for Occupational Medicine Associates, 323 E. Second. She wanted me to experience what more and more workers from all levels of employment must go through.

Love it or hate it, screening urine for drugs is fast becoming a part of modern life for workers, athletes and - maybe someday - high school students.

Drug testing works. Last year, for example, three city employees lost their jobs by flunking drug tests or refusing to take them.

“If your company doesn’t drug screen then you’ll end up getting all the cast-off employees from the companies who do,” warns Lantsberger. “The druggie community is very much aware of which businesses do or don’t drug screen.”

Basically, taking a drug test involves filling out a bunch of terrifying forms and then being led into a bathroom to urinate into a cup.

That’s where the trouble started.

Let’s just delicately say that after giving quite a bit more than my fair share (that’s the kind of guy I am), I hit a snag getting the cap on the cup. This, unfortunately, led to an embarrassing spill along the lines of the Exxon Valdez disaster.

“You SPILLED it?” hooted Dave, the sensitive OMA worker who was in charge of my test. “Oh, wow!”

To my relief, there was enough fluid left in the cup for the purposes of science. But I don’t want to ever do this again.

Piddling your reputation into a jar flummoxed even a sober man like me. Imagine how the poor dopers sweat bullets when they know they’re about to be nailed.

“We’ve heard every excuse on Earth from people who test positive,” says Lantsberger, shaking her head with glee.

Three co-workers once all tested positive for marijuana. They told Lantsberger they were hunting, shot a deer that was grazing in a marijuana patch and ate some of the drug-laced venison. “Anatomically impossible,” scoffed the doctor.

One man said kissing his girlfriend who was smoking dope accounted for the high marijuana levels in his urine. “You can get a lot of things from kissing,” said the doctor, “but you can’t get high.”

Another guy blamed Bloomsday for his positive marijuana test. All that running, he reasoned, unleashed old drug supplies that had been locked in his fat cells.

Here’s a tip I learned. Eating poppy seed muffins will make you register like an opium addict. One nurse even tested the theory. She ate a huge muffin at 6 a.m. and by noon she was testing over twice the legal limit for opiates.

Don’t think for a second that you can outwit Lantsberger and OMA test procedures. Every trick has been tried before.

Smuggling won’t work. Urine must be body temperature when the cup is turned in.

One guy who knew he’d flunk hid a bag of urine wrapped around a hot pack in his jacket. When he handed over the cup, however, the urine was 104 degrees. “He claimed he had a fever,” said Dave with a hearty guffaw.

Even guzzling gallons of water is a waste of time. Urine that is too diluted invalidates the test, which means you have to keep giving until it’s normal.

If you’re ever called for drug test there’s only three things you can do: Quit your job or aim straight and, please, try to get the cap on tight.

, DataTimes


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