Drug Screening

Erica Usher, prevention supervisor at the Fayette County Drug and Alcohol Commission, holds a urine screen kit that is used in testing for drug use. Law enforcement officials and area businesses use similar tests to screen for illegal drug use.

Amanda Steen

| Herald-Standard

With the rise of illegal drug use in recent decades, drug testing has become a part of American culture.

Officials say whether it is in the workplace, through a parole agent or simply done at a family level to try and keep teenagers on the right track, testing urine has become a big deal. Drug-testing kits are readily available for over-the-counter purchase and a failed test can result in everything from suspension from employment to jail time, depending on the situation of the person being tested.

And with such grave consequences, the business of skirting drug tests and trying to find new ways to beat the system also has ballooned.

“It is something we handle, maybe not as prevalent as you might think because our tests are completely random, but we have cases,” said a state parole agent while recently discussing drug testing.

The agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that while he can’t speak to the occurrence of tests being tampered with or taken illegally in the workplace, it stands to reason that the less random the test, the more likely people will try and cheat.

“If they know a test is coming in advance, they will find ways to beat it,” he said.

He said parole drug testing is also more foolproof because agents accompany those being tested into the bathroom and observe. While not a glamorous task, he said that presence has decreased attempts by parolees to cheat the testing.

The ways of beating drug tests are wide-ranging.

From purchasing synthetic urine online, to asking a friend to supply it, to taking masking agents in an attempt to create a clean reading, to the use of prosthetic genitalia — drug users hoping to fly under the radar will try just about anything.

“We have cases of it, certainly,” Uniontown police Chief Jason A. Cox said. “And when they get caught, they get prosecuted. It is a crime.”

Cox said that in recent cases investigated by his department, officers caught one woman trying to pass a relative’s urine as her own. Her downfall? She used a bathroom sink at the Fayette County Courthouse to warm a sample of urine she had smuggled into the building.

In another case, a man was caught using a prosthetic penis, complete with warming capabilities, known as “The Whizzinator.”

As crazy as officers admit it sounds, there have been multiple cases involving the lifelike implement in recent years in Fayette County.

The parole agent said that while The Whizzinator is an extreme example, people also use clean urine provided by others during parole testing even with an agent standing guard.

“They will conceal the urine container on their body and then use rubber tubing to extract the urine into the sample container,” he said.

Other law enforcement officials said that it also depends on what kind of drug is the user’s choice.

If an addict gets a fair amount of lead time, they can flush their system in time to test clean before going right back to using after the test.

Testing — whether in a corporate office, in the adult probation office or in a trailer at a construction site — has developed over the years as well.

Cox said tests today can be purchased at local pharmacies and can not only detect different types of drugs and show which drugs are present, but also have built in safety features to ensure the accuracy of the test, including a temperature gauge.

“Obviously, if a sample is very cold or very hot it will raise immediate suspicions about its level of authenticity,” Cox said.

He also noted that it is not only the test taker who could face charges should they try and beat a drug test.

“If he or she gets help from an outside source supplying urine, they can also be charged with conspiracy,” he said.

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