A case of psychosis after use of a detoxification kit and a review of techniques, risks, and regulations associated with the subversion of urine drug tests

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2011;13(5):PCC.11r01178. doi: 10.4088/PCC.11r01178.


Context: The practice of drug testing in the workplace has been adopted for US federal government employees, and many state and local governments as well as private businesses have followed suit. However, a parallel industry dedicated to subverting the results of urine drug testing has emerged with little or no regulation.

Evidence acquisition: First, the case of a 19-year-old man who developed psychosis after the use of a detoxification kit is presented. Second, a review of the existing literature on the techniques, risks, and regulations associated with the use of drug tampering kits is provided. PubMed, Cochrane Database, and Google Scholar were searched using the keywords UDS, urine toxicology, pass the drug test, and clean UA, with no restrictions on publication date. Case reports, letters to the editor, and original research and review articles in multiple languages were reviewed, as were federal regulations and acts on the topic. The search yielded 4,082 results, of which 49 articles were selected for relevance. Some articles were later omitted as they had cited the original article and had nothing new to offer.

Results: Three commonly used tampering techniques are in vivo adulteration, urine substitution, and in vitro adulteration. Review of the literature regarding the risks involved with use of tampering kits yielded no results. In 1986, an executive order was issued requiring all federal employees to refrain from illicit drug use, and the 1988 Drug-Free Workplace Act precipitated the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration guidelines and their subsequent revisions. Recently, many states have made regulatory efforts to bring drug test defrauding under the ambit of law.

Conclusions: Clinicians need to be aware of the tampering techniques and the possibility of false-negative urine drug tests. Cognizance of inherent risks involved with using these techniques including psychiatric and/or medical complications is also warranted. The manufacture, sale, and use of these products have little or no regulation by state or federal authorities, making them potentially dangerous and imposing new challenges in testing for abused drugs. The extent of use of these products and techniques is not known at this time and is an area that warrants further research.