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Posted: November 16, 2016

Are Urine Tests as Useful as They Seem?

Believe it or not, testing urine samples has been a practice since as long ago as 6,000BC, with Ancient Babylonian and Sumerian physicians inscribing their first evaluations of urine into clay tablets as early as 4,000BC.

So, you’d think that after nearly 8,000 years, we’d have the whole thing pretty down-pat, right?

In the distant past, urine tests were used to diagnose a wide range of ailments, some even having little or nothing to do with “Uroscopy” or the urine system at all. It was only several thousand years later, after medicine in itself had improved drastically, that the use of urine samples became more associated with testing for trace elements in the body.

These days, urine tests are most associated with urinary or other sexually-related issues, drug testing and toxicology, general health scans and, most notably, to determine whether people have been drink-driving, or taking recreational drugs before or during work.

As such, here’s what a classic urine test is designed to pick-up:

What can urine be tested for?

Urine can be tested for all drugs, both illicit and prescription, including some forms of synthetic cannabis. These tests can be modified to detect particular substances, depending on the requirements of the testing bodies in question.

Method:

The patient urinates into a small container. The collected urine is usually tested by using a chemically-treated dipstick. If the test is positive, the urine sample is usually sent of for further testing in a laboratory, depending again on what the goal of the test is.

Who Uses Urine Tests?

Many Australian workplaces, drug and rehabilitation centers, sporting bodies, police, government bodies and other law enforcement agencies, including the courts.

Detection time after last use:

The following chemicals can be detected within the corresponding timeframes:

  • Infrequent Cannabis use – up to 10 days
  • Frequent Cannabis use – up to 30 days or longer
  • Opiates from 2 to 4 days,
  • Amphetamines from 2 to 5 days,
  • Cocaine from 2 to 3 days, and
  • Benzodiazepines up to 2 weeks.

In most cases, if any of the above are detected, the sample will then be sent off for further analysis, to determine if, a) the urine test was accurate and b) if it was accurate, to provide an even more detailed look at the content of the urine and the chemicals within it.

So, it seems as though urine tests really are very good at what they do… and rightly so. We wouldn’t still be using them after 8,000 years if they didn’t do the job very well, no would we?

With that in mind, you might be asking yourself what the point of this article is then, exactly? We’ve come in and told you all about how old urine tests are, what they’re used for, how long they’ve been used for, how good they are at detecting certain substances and even how long after use your pee will still give you away…

But, and there is a BIG but… if they are so effective, then how do people get around them?

That’s what we’re going to be focusing on today.

A recent child custody case involving a man addicted to marijuana and his ex-wife saw him filing for custody of their then 5-year-old daughter. We were hired to investigate the man after he claimed that he’d been “clean” for weeks leading up to the hearing and that he had never been a “frequent user.”

Luckily for him, he managed to pass a urine test – however, his ex-wife knew that he was a very frequent user indeed, and had been since he was just sixteen years old. As such, she hired us to catch him red-handed. The truth of the matter is, we were able to catch him taking hits from a glass bong before work, during his lunchtimes and even before he drove home, but we were never able to officially determine that it was in fact marijuana that he had been smoking in the bong. He claimed it to be a normal “smoking pipe,” one that he’d been using to smoke normal tobacco for years as it was “healthier” than smoking cigarettes.

As a result of that investigation, we were able to convince the courts that whilst we hadn’t physically caught him smoking illicit drugs, there was enough evidence to show that something suspicious was going on and that the case be suspended until either side could provide concrete evidence.

Following on from the initial surveillance investigation, we were tasked with following the man for a week leading up to his next urine test… and it was during that week that we were able to catch him purchasing “clean” urine from a stranger he’d met at a bar.

And now, we turn our attention to another case of urine samples failing to protect the organisations they were put in place for; one of Australia’s largest commercial Pearl farms near Darwin regularly recruits a wide range of personnel to engage in varying activities across the farm, from diving for pearls to hydraulic engineering, biological maintenance and a whole host more. With that, the company has a zero tolerance for drug use or alcohol abuse, especially considering that a great many facets of the jobs they offer are naturally dangerous or require a huge amount of attention to detail.

While we were in Darwin for a different case, we did manage to frequent a local pub in the center during our time off and it was there that we learnt a great deal about the lengths that some of that company’s employees go to to hide their alcohol abuse or recreational drug use… some of those I spoke to openly admitted to taking MDMA and LSD on a weekly basis, sometimes even doing it more than twice a week, along with smoking week nearly every day.

So, I asked him how he managed to pass the pee test, to which his answer was simple:

“While I was waiting in the lobby of the application center, nervous as hell because I knew I’d just had a spliff a few hours earlier, I was approached by a woman in casual clothes who asked what I was doing there. I explained that I was applying for the job, she then asked me if I’d like some clean pee. I said sure, and then she led me out of the building, across the road into her **** shop and sold me a bottle of clean piss for 10 bucks.”

“Did it work?” I asked

“Hell yeah, mate! I’ve been working there for nearly a year now!” he responded.

A similar case was brought to our attention earlier last year after a construction company in Sydney passed a mandatory urine test over to their employees during the first week’s of September. The foremen knew of many employees who occasionally smoked weed, and even went as far as to warn some of them to stay clean for a few weeks leading up to the test. Later on in the day, three men came into work with their eyes bloodshot, laughing more than usual and being far less productive that they usually were. The site manager noticed this and asked them to proceed to the urine test.

The man who seemed most under the influence, was escorted by a male physician and led behind a curtain so that he could pass his urine into the container. The urine test came back clean and, after asking the physician what had happened during the test, he claimed that he had been so bold as to even check that the man had taken his penis out and peed into the cup – a measure that some people have to take considering the relative ease of using other people’s pee.

Some people keep pee from family members or friends in zip-lock bags with straws, some just in the the bags, which makes for a messier approach as they come to “pee in the cup”, but others go much further.

By the way, successfully using apple juice instead of urine is a myth and those that have been foolish enough to try it have quickly been found out. There are thousands upon thousands of chemicals in urine that make it what it is, and the same can be said for apple juice. Not only are the smells entirely different, but doctors and health experts around the globe will be able to and have caught people using different liquids instead of pee for hundreds of years. The truth of the matter is, if you use apple juice or something similar, you may as well have just told them that you’re a regular drug user – the guilt appears the same way, regardless.

So, to finish off, here are a few clever things that people have done, that we know of, to overcome urine tests. Please bear in mind also, that there are companies and stand-alone individuals out there that make money from selling synthetic urine – a substance specifically designed to fool urine tests:

Fake penis:

You can buy fake penises online that provide a multitude of functions, from sex toys to those designed specifically for urine tests. They look surprisingly real too, and unless a person looks really closely, they have been the most effective circumvention for urine tests. However, the urine used in the fake penis will still need to be clean to work!

Condom, use 1:

A little more gross than the others, but people have been found to have pre-prepared condoms, full of pee, slipped over their penises. When it comes to peeing, they would simply prick a hole in the condom using a pin, and let the pee flow out of the whole. The benefit of doing it this way is that there is little to no fumbling about. Just whip it out, pop it and let rip. Some woman have even been found to be stuffing pee-filled condoms inside them and then popping them inside the vagina when it comes to the pee test.

Condom, use 2:

Balloons work for this one too. Some people have simply kept clean pee in a tied-up condom, held in place in their underwear by safety pins, tape, paper clips and more. This method is effective, but only when no physicians are close enough to see what you’re doing because this trick takes a lot of fumbling around. You’ve got to find the condom, unsecure it or pop it and then let rip… the issue being that when you “finish,” users of this technique often don’t empty the condom completely, resulting in a wet patch on their trousers forming after they have completed the “pee test.”

Pre-prepared cups:

While this has been used in the past, the number of different sized cups, brands, makes, models and signage on modern pee cups has made it increasingly difficult. The idea being that a cup is stolen and then filled with pee the night before the test, by a someone with clean urine. From there, the cup is brought in and simply swapped for the empty cup the candidate is presented with before their test. As I said though, this is harder to do these days as there are just so many different kinds of cups, stamps, stickers, signatures and even dates that it’s just become too difficult.

My question is, however, that consider the ages we’ve been using urine tests, the importance of their outcomes and the accuracy of their results, how can Australians, be they business owners, members of government, the police or whoever; how can they allow people to go into quiet little rooms, unsupervised, to allow them to pee into a cup.

When it comes to the safety of other staff (for dangerous jobs), the well-being of children on the brink of a broken family, the outcome of a legal battle or even the importance in being drug-free for everyday life, how has it become acceptable that we simply “trust” these people to physically pee into the cup?

Well, granted that the most recent cases we’ve been involved in, the first hand stories we’ve been told about the Pearl Company in Darwin and the numerous sporting events over history where “pee” has been falsified… is it not time that physicians, doctors, judges and other authoritative persons stand up and tell urine test candidates that they will be physically watching the pee test being carried out? Perhaps we need specific people allocated to these jobs… people whose jobs it will be to help people undress and pee into the cup, whilst ensuring that nothing out of the ordinary is going on or otherwise attached to the people in question.

We’ve all been seen naked, and as we get older, a lot of us will be seen naked by our doctors more and more frequently.

If you’re innocent, then why would you have any qualms about taking a quick pee into a cup in front of a fully qualified, trained physician?

Most likely, you wouldn’t.

In today’s day and age, where so much responsibility can fall onto people, is it not our responsibility as a society to ensure that the people taking that responsibility are truly fit to do so? You wouldn’t want your taxi or Über driver to be off his face on smack the next time you go for a ride, right? You also wouldn’t feel so safe on the 40th floor of your apartment building if you knew the men who’d built it were on Ecstasy for the majority of their time on the building site, would you? Adding a DNA test to the mix might be a good way to deter people from using other people’s or synthetic urine, for a start!

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