What Can Cause a False Positive Alcohol Urine Test?
Alcohol use is a major public health concern in the United States, with over 16 million adults suffering from alcohol use disorder. Alcohol consumption can lead to serious physical and mental health issues and an increased risk of fatal accidents, violent crimes, and suicide. So it's no wonder that many employers, sports franchises, and other organizations may wish to recognize and identify the dangerous use of alcohol in their teams.
This is why alcohol urine tests are commonly used to detect recent alcohol consumption or long-term drinking habits. However, these tests aren't always one hundred percent accurate — which can have serious ramifications if you fall victim to a false positive. In this article, we will discuss how such screenings work, what can cause a false positive alcohol urine test, and what steps you should take if you believe your results are inaccurate.
What Are Alcohol Urine Tests?
Alcohol urine tests are a type of screening used to detect the presence of alcohol in the body. These tests usually measure the amount of ethyl glucuronide (EtG), a byproduct of alcohol metabolism, in your urine sample. People who consume large amounts over an extended period will have higher levels than those who only drink occasionally.
How Do They Work?
When you undergo this test, you'll be asked to provide a fresh sample of your urine which will then be tested for EtG levels. The concentration of EtG present will indicate how much alcohol was recently consumed or what kind of drinking habits were present before that point. Generally speaking, if more than 80 mg/dL is detected, you have likely been drinking alcohol within the last 80 hours.
Who Has to Take an Alcohol Urine Test?
The people most likely to take this test are those in military or law enforcement positions, professional athletes, individuals involved in court proceedings, and people undergoing rehab. Anyone suspected of substance abuse may also be asked to take one.
What Happens If You Fail an Alcohol Urine Test?
If you fail an alcohol urine test, the organization that requested the test may take appropriate disciplinary action based on its policies and guidelines. If an employer requested the test, this could range from counseling to dismissal or time off without pay. At a rehab facility, a failed test could result in longer stays and more restrictions imposed on the individual. And if the alcohol urine test was mandated by the court as part of a legal case, failure could lead to a probation violation or even incarceration.
Can Alcohol Urine Tests Return False Positives?
EtG tests do not detect any other types of drugs, meaning that the test may be used to solely detect alcohol. But these tests can show false positives due to certain factors such as fermentation products from food items or chemical compounds used in manufacturing processes that can lead to false readings.
Substances That Can Cause False Positives
- Yeast-containing foods such as bread, vinegar, and pickles — especially if consumed in excess
- Non-alcoholic beer, malt beverages, or kombucha
- Certain gum and mouthwashes
- cough syrups with an alcohol base or cold medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine
- Some over-the-counter vitamins like niacin
- Certain herbal supplements like kava and valerian root
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cleaning products, colognes, or perfumes
- Chemical compounds found in paint thinners or detergents
False positives can also occur from fecal matter left on a sample. This happens when the sample isn't properly collected and suffers from cross-contamination. As such, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before taking an alcohol urine test.
Tips Before Taking an Alcohol Urine Test
Because a failed alcohol urine test can have serious consequences on your job and lifestyle, it's important that you set yourself up for success before the screening. To help ensure your results are accurate, try to keep the following guidelines in mind.
- Drink plenty of water before your test to properly dilute the sample
- Stay away from any substances that may cause a false positive
- Wash your hands before handling the test
- Follow the instructions when providing a sample
- Warn the test administrator about any potential complications ahead of time
What to Do If You've Received a False Positive
If you think that you've received a false positive, it's important to contact the testing agency. This will allow you to explain what could have caused the false reading and request a retest.
The chance of receiving a false positive is also why we recommend talking to your test administrator about any complications before you take the screening. If you've discussed potential issues in advance, they may more likely recognize the need for retesting.
Get Ahead of False Positives with Countrywide Testing
If you have been asked to take an alcohol urine test, it is important to understand what can cause a false positive result. To ensure the accuracy of your results, it may be helpful to take your own at-home test before any mandated alcohol screenings.
At Countrywide Testing, our reliable and accurate drug testing services can help you understand if any substances — from alcohol to foods, cough medicines, or vitamins and supplements — will cause any issues by showing up on your test. Forearmed with this knowledge, you can make necessary lifestyle changes or be ready to let your test administrator know about any complications.
Countrywide is an online retailer providing you with easy access to standard drug tests. We offer an array of products for testing at home, individuals staying clean after rehab, workplace testing, healthcare emergencies, and law enforcement purposes. Our test kits are convenient, affordable and ship to you quickly. Plus, our lab is accredited by SAMHSA, so you can rest assured your test results are handled in accordance with the highest industry standards.
At Countrywide Testing, we provide fast, accurate results in an easy-to-use format so that you can get the information you need. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive selection of testing services.