How Cold Medicine Affect Results of a Drug Test

Liberty often fields questions from recruiters and candidates alike regarding the results of their drug tests and how their cold medicine might affect the results.

Many common over-the-counter medicines include drugs like codeine, hydrocodone, and sympathomimetics, which are report to affect the outcome of drug tests.

  • Codeine is used as a cough suppressant. It enters the body and is metabolized and then converts into morphine. Both codeine and morphine are used to relieve pain. Using products that contain codeine may result in a positive drug test for either codeine or morphine.
  • Hydrocodone is used to treat pain and has been approved by the FDA for a handful of prescription medications as a cough suppressant. Hydrocodone is a popular drug of abuse as it produces a distinct feeling of euphoria. It is highly addictive and abuse of hydrocodone can lead to serious illness or injury. Any candidate taking a medication that contains hydrocodone may test positive in some drug tests.
  • Sympathomimetics are drugs such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylephrine and are commonly used as decongestants in cold and flu medications. They are also used as appetite suppressants. Sympathomimetics do not produce confirmed positive drug test results. Many people assume that over-the-counter medications cause a drug test to come back positive, however, during the second step of the drug testing process at the lab the results are found to be negative. Using a two-tiered testing process eliminates the possibility that these results will be reported positive.

The candidate should always keep record of the medications he or she is taking as those medications can results in a positive drug screen even if they are not abusing that medication. The candidate should write a list of the medications on the COC form after providing the specimen for a drug test. The list serves as a useful reminder to the candidate should they be required to provide more information regarding a drug test to the MRO.

Comments are closed