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In Your Own Backyard: Getting clean after 4/20

With the day celebrating pot use approaching, students reflect on testing and cheating

 by Katie Kelberlau  published on Thursday, April 14, 2005

There are many methods by which people try to pass a drug test.  Some people put bleach in their water, some buy natural toxin cleaners, and some just don't do drugs. Regardless, more and more employees are screening their applicants before they make a decision whether to hire./issues/arts/692902
Brandon Quester / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
There are many methods by which people try to pass a drug test. Some people put bleach in their water, some buy natural toxin cleaners, and some just don't do drugs. Regardless, more and more employees are screening their applicants before they make a decision whether to hire.
 

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Drug tests.

They can be some of the least dignified moments in the human experience.

While most drugs and alcohol pass through the body in a relatively short period of time, traces of marijuana can remain for months. And with April 20 coming up, some students will have to worry about passing the test, and may resort to the age-old practice of cheating.

But even those who take drug tests honestly face difficulties.

"I could not even pee the first time. They left the door open so they could hear me, and it made me really uncomfortable," says secondary education senior Sarah Maddox, adding that it was a male worker sitting on a stool outside the door.

On the other hand, statistics show that drug testing, by and large, does help companies acquire better employees.

Patrick Dixon of Global Change -- a forecasting company that assesses what will affect a company's performance -- found that when the state of Ohio introduced random drug testing for its employees, there was a 97 percent decrease in on-the-job injuries, as well as a 91 percent decrease in absenteeism.

A manager at a local Safeway grocery store who wished to remain nameless said that pre-employment drug testing is common practice in the food industry, and that it helps weed out potentially undesirable employees.

After failing to urinate on her first attempt, Maddox was required to sign a form stating that she was unable to produce urine, and that she would be provided with a soda to help her out. That was just one of many seemingly nonsensical forms she had to sign that day.

Eventually, Maddox managed to produce the requisite amount of urine and escape the dingy building unscathed, conscious intact.

Maddox, like many college students, was taking a pre-employment drug test, this time for her job at the Tempe Public Library.

Unlike some, however, Maddox had no doubt that she would pass the test.

University of Oregon religious studies junior Angela Buxtom says as far as cheating on drug tests, she has heard it all. She even has a friend who used synthetic urine for drug tests, twice.

The first time, the testing company could not "read" the urine and called her back for another test. But on her second try, it worked.

"She couldn't remember the name of the stuff she used, but she called me to tell me that if I ever needed it to try it, the good brand started with a 'B,' " Buxtom says.

Synthetic urine is sold at Trails adult store on 5th Street just west of Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe.

Bryan, who requested SPM not use his last name, is an employee at Trails.

"We actually don't carry anything to help people pass drug tests," he says. The detoxifiers the store carries are meant for personal use, not to cheat on drug tests.

He admits, however, that people may try to use their products for that very purpose.

In addition to synthetic urine, including the popular Urine Luck brand, Trails sells a number of detoxifiers. Detoxifiers, Bryan says, claim to clear out a person's system in 15 to 30 days.

Their best sellers are by a brand called Detoxify, which makes products like Extra Clean and Ready Clean.

Buxtom says she has some friends and acquaintances who have tried detoxifiers, some of which even work as late as the night before.

"There is always the option of using someone else's clean pee, too," she says. "Though you need to make sure it is at body temperature."

She has a friend who tried to use someone else's urine, only to have the drug screener find that the temperature of the sample was 71 degrees. Obviously, that didn't work.

Many Web sites, including www.howtopassdrugtest.com, sell products that can fit in a purse or "clean" out a person's urine in less than an hour. They sell powders, juices, tablets, and potions, all with a "200 percent guarantee" and a one- to two-year shelf life.

The products for sale on the Web, as well as at Trails, sell for anywhere between $20 and $100, depending on their claims and speed of effectiveness.

Despite fancy products guaranteeing a negative test, many students still take the at-home route.

Table salt, concentrated lemon juice, cranberry juice, household vinegar, goldenseal tea, Visine eye drops, liquid hand soap, Drano and bleach are all on the list of household products that allegedly get urine clean.

Interdisciplinary studies senior Eric Miller tried bleach a few years ago, a couple weeks before his drug test date.

"I just mixed a few capfuls of bleach into a gallon of water, mixed it up, and drank it," he said. "It tasted like shit but I passed. Who knows if the bleach actually worked or if it was just all of the liquid?"

He says that he's heard vitamin B12 helps, as it is a natural system cleaner that flushes out impurities.

Miller has friends who bleached their hair in case they took a hair sample. One guy even shaved off all of his body hair.

Though local drug testing companies declined to comment on their cheating prevention methods, Buxtom and Eric say that they will often watch the person pee, leave the door open, or test for products that could be used to mask drugs, such as if the urine is too acidic.

Reach the reporter at katherine.kelberlau@asu.edu.



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