It doesn't happen often, but you may have to take a drug test. Your employer may require you to take a drug test before hiring you for the first time, before they promote you, or sometimes just at random. In any case, you'll need to be aware of false positives. These are over-the-counter medications or foods that are perfectly legal, and yet show up as illegal drugs on a drug test. Having a head up on what can cause false positives will allow you to avoid those medications and foods before a drug test, or more importantly, if you test positive for a drug that you know you didn't take, you may have an explanation.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. But just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean you are too. There are many things that can show up on a drug test as a false positive for marijuana including any NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as: Ibuprofen, Advil, Nuprin, Mediprim, Motrin, Bayer Select Pain Relief Formula, Excedrin IB Caplets, Midol 200, Pamprin, Naproxen, Aleve, Ketoprofen.
Cocaine was commonly used throughout the United States over a hundred years ago. And before that, the coca leaves (the leaves used to make cocaine) were used for thousands of years. But today, cocaine is considered dangerous, addictive, and highly illegal. If you get caught with it on a drug test, you could be facing immediate termination, or even prosecution. Many doctors and researchers, including Thomas Hartwell Pepper, MD of Ohio State University, have found that Amoxicillin can show up on a drug test as a false positive for cocaine. Kidney and liver disease, along with Diabetes, have also been known to show up as false positives.
Opiates can be anything from a legal prescription of Vicodin to the most addictive drug in the world, heroin. Now, in some places, Tylenol with Codeine is legal (such as Canada) and available over-the-counter. But in the United States, and other places, codeine is still only available by prescription. If you show up positive for an opiate on a drug test, it could be your cough medicine. But it could also be that bagel you ate on your way into work. That's right, poppy seeds have been notorious for showing up as opiates on drug tests. So make sure you stay off the poppy seeds before you take your test, or you might look like a heroin addict.
Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that are used to increase wakefulness and fight fatigue. In fact, they were quite common among soldiers in WWII, and Adolf Hitler even received daily injections that contained amphetamines. But in 1965, they were made illegal unless you have a doctor's prescription. So if you don't have a prescription, and your drug test says you are taking amphetamines, it could be your cold medicine. Sudafed has been known to show up on drug tests as amphetamines on drug tests. But other cold medicines like NyQuil, Drixoral, and Tylenol Cold & Sinus could also show up as false positives. Basically, be careful of any medication with the active ingredient of pseudoephedrine.
If you weren't clubbing all night at a rave in the desert with five of your closest friends, then you probably shouldn't have ecstasy in your system. But if you do test positive for ecstasy, there might be a reasonable explanation. Most of the same cold medicines that could test positive for amphetamines may also test positive for ecstasy. In addition, common over-the-counter nasal sprays and inhalers such as Afrin, Vicks, or Primatene Inhaler could also show up as false positives.