Industry Insights

Synthetic Urine: How Fake Urine Increases Drug Test Abuse

As workplace positivity rates increase, the growing sophistication of drug testing has led employees to evolve their cheating methods. Enforcing a safe working environment with a drug testing policy that uses tried and true methodologies must be a top priority for employers, particularly those in safety-sensitive industries. It is a widely accepted truth that a workplace is safer when employees are not under the influence of impairing substances. In addition, drug testing is only as good as the quality of the specimen tested. With the opioid epidemic on the rise, increased cocaine and methamphetamine detection, and new laws legalizing recreational or medicinal marijuana in several states, employers are establishing stricter routine to combat a new threat, fake urine.

What is Fake Urine?

Fake Urine is composed of chemicals, creatinine, yellow coloring, and sometimes uric acid, to mimic the characteristics of urine. Traditionally, fake urine has been used for purposes of testing the impact of urine on products such as diapers, mattresses, cleaning, agents, or medical devices. In addition, fake urine has been used for alternative medicine, scientific experiments, and even drug testing to improve testing efficiency. With increased drug positivity rates and more common legally available drugs, it’s also being used more frequently to try and fool drug tests.

Fake Urine and Drug Testing - Star Crossed Lovers?

Efforts to evade detection often lead donors to take desperate measures to avoid a non-negative result. This is the reason why fake urine continues to be used, despite the inherent risks of detection during a drug test. Studies show that donors have attempted to use eye drops, household products, soft drinks, lemonade, dog urine, and other adulterants based on myths and advertisements that promise negative test results or inconclusive results that may give more time for the body to be ridded of the presence of a prohibited substance before a retest is required.

Most of these cheating methods focus on dilution, however, some methods focus on substitution. With substitution, donors attempt to cheat by using fake or synthetic urine available in dry and liquid forms. These products can be purchased for approximately $15 - $40 with the goal of mimicking the characteristics of an ideal specimen.

How is Fake Urine Accessed and Managed for Abuse Purposes?

The most common purveyors of these items include “head shops”, truck stops, the internet, and other retail outlets that sell products for smoking, possessing, and concealing cannabis, illegal substances, and other “counterculture” products. Commonly, fake urine is advertised as “fetish urine” for research or as a novelty product. The content of the package and instructions drive home the purpose with a focus on mixing, reaching proper temperatures, and concealment. In limited instances, the product may come with a securing device that allows the user to conceal in the holder until needed; presumably at the time of a drug test.

After obtaining the fake urine, donors are then tasked with properly mixing, transporting, and maintaining proper temperature to avoid detections. Donors will often try to slip the fake urine into the cup when they are directed to provide urine samples and success rates at well-respected collection sites is very low.

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How DISA Can Help

DISA offers a variety of testing options and advanced technology and screening methods to detect synthetic urine. Our laboratory partners use the most advanced screening technology to ensure quality control measures are in place for donors who try and cheat on a drug test. Diversifying your drug testing program, adding in different testing methodologies like hair or oral fluid, along with adding a random testing policy will help reduce the chances of an employee cheating on a drug test.

For more than 30 years, DISA has been a provider of workplace safety and compliance services. DISA helps companies make more informed staffing decisions by offering a broad array of industry-leading methodologies to make employee screening faster and more accurate. For more information about DISA call 1-800-752-6432 or email