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What Causes a False Positive for Alcohol on Urine Screens?

Hands of people talking about alcohol urine screens

Urine drug screens (UDS) are painless tests that check a person’s urine for the presence of prescription medications and certain illegal drugs. UDS include alcohol urine screens, too. These tests can help doctors and potential employers detect possible substance abuse issues. They are also used in emergency medical services (EMS) if a patient comes in confused or exhibiting strange behavior.

UDS are also commonly used in a treatment setting for drug and alcohol addiction issues. However, UDS are not drug or alcohol addiction tests—they only confirm the presence of addictive substances in a person’s system. Call 866.931.9312 to speak with someone from Evoke Wellness at Miramar. Our experienced and highly qualified team members can help you learn more about drug and alcohol screens and our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs.

What Can Urine Screen Tests Detect?

Urine drug screens can detect the following substances:

  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamines
  • Phenylcyclohexyl piperidine (PCP)
  • Opioids

Alcohol can also be tested and detected via urine screen tests, but breathalyzer tests are used more often. There are two types of urine drug screens: the immunoassay test and the gas chromatography or mass spectrometry (GC/MS) test. The immunoassay test is less costly and provides quick results. However, it can sometimes produce false positive results. False positives are why many places send any such results on immunoassay tests off to confirm with GC/MS drug screen tests—which are more costly and take longer but rarely produce false positives.

What Are the Reasons for a False Positive Urine Screen?

No matter what type of drug test a person undergoes, having a false positive is never good. When a person receives a false positive result, they may have several questions, such as: What causes a false positive for drugs or alcohol on urine screens? What measures can someone take to ensure they don’t get a false positive result?

Products with Alcohol in Them

Certain consumables or hygiene products can be why you get a false positive on an alcohol screen. It would help if you avoided them before undergoing an alcohol urine test.

The test to detect alcohol in the urine is called an ethyl glucuronide (EtG) test. This test detects the different metabolites of alcohol when the body is breaking it down. EtG can be detected in the urine for up to five days after alcohol consumption, depending on the amount ingested. EtG tests are very sensitive and can detect low levels of alcohol ingestion, leading to false-positive results. Many daily items contain alcohol and could cause a false positive for alcohol on a urine screen. Some of these items include the following:

  • Mouthwash
  • Some cough syrups and cough drops
  • Breath spray
  • Some gum
  • Kombucha
  • Cleaning products
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Makeup
  • Antiperspirant
  • Aftershave
  • Cologne
  • Hair Dye

In general, you should also avoid any food prepared with alcohol. You can also look up the National Library of Medicine’s “Household Products Database,” as it allows individuals to search for products that contain alcohol. Any of these products listed can affect the results of an alcohol screen.

Other Reasons for False Positives

Other rare instances could cause a false positive result on alcohol urine screens. For example, if a urine sample isn’t stored correctly or remains at room temperature for too long, it can grow bacteria which can cause EtG levels to rise. Also, a person with diabetes can produce a false positive result if they have a urinary tract infection at the testing time.

Find Treatment for Chronic Alcoholism at Evoke Wellness at Miramar

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, our specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Miramar offers cutting-edge addiction treatment. We are committed to helping you build a foundation for long-term recovery. You don’t have to continue to suffer. Your story isn’t over! Contact Evoke Wellness at Miramar today at 866.931.9312—all calls are free and confidential, and our specialists are standing by to help you start your recovery journey. They will also answer any questions you may have.