What You Need to Know about Drug Testing in Addiction Treatment

You pee into a cup and they test the urine for drug use. It seems a simple enough process and it is. Yet that simple process is making some people rich running rehabs and sober homes across the US. Some treatment programs and sober homes have charged $3,000-5,000 per urine screening and may provide several samples per day per patient. The insurance reimbursement can rack up quickly and with no benefit to the person seeking help for their addiction problem.

How do you know when drug testing is helpful or a scam? What can you actually learn from drug testing and how accurate is it? If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use, the answers to these questions can help you to know if you are dealing with a reputable, ethical, and safe program that can help you or if you’re caught up in a money making enterprise with little ability or interest in helping you move beyond addiction.

Drug testing is done in many places today. Hospitals, doctor’s offices, occupational health clinics, pre-employment testing, job safety testing, rehabs, drug treatment programs, sober houses, and even regular families are picking up kits to drug test at home. Random testing has become a part of many people’s lives simply by the type of work they do or because their employer requires random testing as a condition of employment. Sweat, saliva, blood, breath, and hair can all be tested for drug use but, by far, the most common screening sample is using urine to test for substance use, which can show the presence of marijuana, opioids, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, cocaine, and other drugs.

Drug testing is very accurate for picking up the presence of substances but there can be false positives on rare occasions. You will likely be asked to follow a specific protocol for urine sample collection to ensure your urine isn’t diluted, adulterated, or substituted. Some testing requires a person to witness the urine sample being collected, not take any bags or belongings into a room for sample collection, and wash their hands outside the specimen collection room. People try to falsify urine drug testing by substituting clean urine for their own, adulterating their sample with a substance that alters the pH, or diluting their urine. Modern drug testing can pick up on these tainted samples and inform the person requesting the test that the sample was compromised.

Drug rehabs, treatment programs, and sober living homes often test for drugs but excessive testing is as bad as no testing. Unscrupulous treatment centers, rehabs, and sober homes were charging insurance companies for urine testing sometimes several times a day on the same patient and charging hundreds if not thousands of dollars per test. This testing frequency isn’t for the patient but to net a profit from testing. Many centers didn’t even check the results of the testing because they were just racking up charges on health insurance.

It is reasonable for a program to administer drug testing on arrival to determine a baseline level of drugs present in a person’s system. Residential programs may wish to drug test if a patient goes off site without staff present. Drug testing may also be done at a rate determined by a court order or at the request of probation. It is also common to have random drug testing throughout a residential stay . If a program is legitimate, testing a couple times a week or less is sufficient for drug testing, if there is no reason to suspect a change in their sober status. Residential programs and sober living home should be safe places to be sober. Excessive drug testing is simply a money grab for the facility unless the drug testing is compelled by a court order, there’s a suspicion of drug use based on a person displaying an altered state or unusual behavior, or the testing is part of the regular random testing schedule.

If you or a loved one are at a rehab, drug treatment program, or sober living home where excessive drug testing is occurring, it’s time to leave. Reputable programs are invested in helping you to move beyond addiction, not make money off excessive drug testing. If you or a loved one is looking for help with a substance use issue, you can call one of the Family Consultants at Saint Jude Retreats for help with finding the right option for you.