You have probably heard of people failing drug tests and not agreeing with the results. Some claim they have never touched an intoxicant or other such substance in their life. A while back, there was a claim that energy drinks affect drug tests.
The claim was that these drinks had tested positive for illicit and prescriptive drugs. And the tests conducted involved substance and urine tests.
The energy drinks in question were Red Bull and Bang, and this caused quite a reaction in online communities. But how accurate was this claim?
So, do energy drinks actually affect a drug test? No, energy drinks have not been proven to comprise drugs that can affect drug tests. If it happens, it would owe to a flaw in the testing and not the contents of the energy drink.
In this article we explain why energy drinks have no influence on a drug test, and test energy drinks for drugs ourselves.
Where this rumor about energy drinks comes from
If you look at mysteries surrounding energy drinks, you will notice a trend. Someone will claim something about these drinks, and that will pave the way for reactions. At some point, people even believed that Red Bull contained bull sperm as its source of taurine. And that rumor spread like wildfire.
So, starting a claim against energy drinks is a pretty easy task. The hard part comes in proving it.
In this case, the rumor started in 2019 following a Facebook post that had fast gone viral. In the post, the Facebook user claimed that Red Bull and Bang had tested positive for various illicit substances. These included meth and ecstasy, as well as prescription opioids such as suboxone.
Angie Rider Freese was behind this claim, which she backed with photos. On one of these photos, there was a test cup marked Red Bull.
According to her, one of the patients in her hospital had a Red Bull. She explained to the patient that energy drinks cause positives on drug screens, which he did not believe.
He thus consumed the energy drink, only for the drug test to be positive for meth, oxy, and sub. She went ahead and stated that Bang would produce positive results for ecstasy.
She later took down the post, only to validate it in another one. And claimed that the first post had led to an increased number of friend requests and messages.
However, taking down the post did not do away with the craze that had now hit social media. Screenshots of the same were still available, and people circulated these with haste.
But is she right? The answer is no. Her results were inaccurate and caused some confusion to energy drink lovers. If anything, they pointed to the inaccuracy in some testing kits which test positive for drugs like meth.
We have tested energy drinks for drugs
The only way to know for sure whether energy drinks will affect a drug test is to simply test it yourself. We have tested the two most popular energy drinks at this moment with a drug test.
For this we used two different types of drug tests to test it extensively.
We purchased these tests from a company where employers purchase tests to test their employees for drugs. These tests are therefore actually used professionally, there is a chance that you may have to undergo the same test in your situation. The drug tests are from the SureScreen Diagnostics brand.
These are urine drug tests, testing is done by applying a few drops of the subject’s urine. We will test by using pure energy drink instead of urine. This ensures a sharp result, so the energy drink will not pass through the body before testing.
This will also exclude that other things such as medication, food and lifestyle of an individual can influence the test. So we test the source directly, ”straight from the can”.
Which drugs have we tested energy drinks on?
We test the Monster energy drink with a drug tester that tests for 6 different types of drugs, namely:
- Cannabis (THC)
We test the Red Bull energy drink with a drug tester that tests for 4 different types of drugs, namely:
- Cannabis (THC)
This is how the drug tester works
The operation of the drug testers is quite simple, at the top is the letter C. This is the control line, if it shows a line it means that the liquid has been applied correctly.
Next are the types of drugs that these tests are going to test for. If a line appears, it means that you are testing negative for that drug type. If no line appears, you test positive for that particular drug.
For those interested, below is an image with a list of the drug types being tested in Monster energy drink with the cut-off values behind it.
The drug test results of Monster energy drink
After dosing the Monster energy drink on the drug tester, it seemed as if nothing was wrong. However, no stripe appeared behind the drugs Methampetamines (MET).
That would mean that Monster energy drink would contain Methampetamines. After extensively inspecting the test result, we can conclude that there is an almost invisible stripe.
The line is so light and unclear that it is almost impossible to see, let alone capture it with a camera. Below a photo taken with dark lighting settings, you can see the line a little better.
If you read the instructions carefully, this means that the test outcome is negative. It says ‘should be considered negative whenever there is even a faint colored line’.
You can read this below.
This makes you think. Would an employer hastily testing dozens of employees at once notice this?
Anyway, the conclusion is that Monster energy drink does not affect a drug test.
The drug test results of Red Bull energy drink
We can be short and to the point about this test, Red Bull does not affect a drug test. The test gave clear results fast, of which there can be no doubt. Clear bright stripes.
So I will not fail a drug test after drinking energy drinks?
You may now be wondering if you can end up failing a drug test upon consuming an energy drink.
There haven’t been enough cases of people testing positive after taking energy drinks. If there were, then there would be a pattern to follow, pointing to the likelihood of this occurrence.
You should also note that the claimant did not use a clear photo in her post. The positive test was not apparent and is thus questionable.
However, that is not to say that one cannot test positive for drugs after taking an energy drink. Only that, if it happens, it would owe to a flaw in the testing and not the contents of the energy drink.
Energy drinks are not the only substances that can give false positives in tests. There have been cases where people taking ibuprofen have tested positive for PCP. Some NSAIDs give false marijuana positives. Thus, false positives are not unheard of.
What if you do get tested positive for drugs?
The above research shows that a false positive is lurking. And that can have serious consequences for someone, especially since it involves a drug test.
You can potentially do three things in that case:
- Ask if you can see the test result. As in the Monster energy drink test above, you can see that a test result can be very difficult to read. Thus, the person evaluating the test may have made a mistake in reading the result.
- Get a blood test. The results of a blood test are more reliable and are performed by a doctor. A medically trained person therefore assesses your result, instead of, for example, your employer.
- In the manual of the drug test, used in our research, we found the following sentence; ”A positive result might be obtained from certain foods or food supplements” (see image below). So something you ate or drank could have influenced the result. Consider what you ate and whether this could possibly affect the result of a drug test.
While the claim may have taken root and caused fear among consumers, there is little evidence to support it. That is not to say that it cannot happen. You should thus consult your doctor before using any meds with these drinks. Stay safe.