ORANGE COUNTY - Urine analysis is the most common type of drug testing in both the private sector and criminal justice system. Southeast Texans are getting busted for bluffing on that bathroom test.
Those attempting to cheat use gadgets and gizmos. Some are bought online while other devices and potions are crafted in the kitchen.
Falsifying a drug test is no joke but it does happen in Southeast Texas.
"Marijuana, crack cocaine; I did just about every drug you can name," said Tina Simpson-Perry. The peer specialist supervisor at Spindletop Center in Beaumont. She's also put behind her decades of substance abuse. Those 30 long years of being controlled by her addiction are now being used to help others out of the darkness.
"I've been to state [prison], I've been to state jail," said Simpson-Perry.
She's taken dozens of urine analysis tests.
"I was going before the judge, I was getting cookies and everything was going really, really good," said Simpson-Perry. "And then one day I decided I was going to go home and I was going to use… so I went home that day and I smoked a blunt and the very next day they called my color."
Simpson-Perry admits she's tried to cheat several times.
"I've spent as much as $50, $60 on a drink so that my (urine analysis) would come out clean and I would fail. I've done everything from take a capful of clorox to put in a gallon of water to try to drink to flush my system."
She says it's never worked; she got busted every single time.
Already this year there have been drug test tampering reports in Orange. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says last year there was another violation of falsifying a drug test in Orange and two for Jefferson County.
Orange Adult Probation sits across the street from the county courthouse. They administer urine drug tests.
Employees say they've seen men try to use anatomically correct devices to submit synthetic urine.
The devices are easily found online starting at $140.
A probation employee even says he's seen devices for sale at a local gas station and that some purchasing the kits forget to pick a matching skin tone.
As for women, probation workers say they've seen everything from Elmer's glue bottles to candy containers and balloons containing fake or substituted urine being used in an attempt to get a drug-free reading. Those attempts rarely succeed.
"In the procedures we have in place, we observe the sample physically leaving the individual's body," said Brandon Roberts with Orange Adult Probation. "We do catch individuals probably three, four, five or more times a year. And we do have them arrested and prosecuted."
As Simpson-Perry found out firsthand, the consequences to trying to cheat the test can add up, going as far as people having their probation revoked.
Private sector employers also utilize drug testing.
There are three Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions facilities in Southeast Texas where work-related drug testing can be done.
"Collection sites measure the temperature and take other precautions to try and ensure that the specimen is not tampered with," said Dr. Barry Sample, the Director of Science and Technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions. "In some cases, depending up on the technology that's being used it might still be possible to tamper with that specimen."
According to Quest, there was a spike in people trying to falsify their results in 2012. 21 out of every 10,000 tests locally came back invalid, which is higher than the national average of 15 in every 10,000.
More recent numbers show local results closer to the national average of invalid tests.
Quest uses urine and oral swabbing to determine recent drug use and a hair sample to show long-term drug use.
Some employers have turned to a combination of the three test types to deter workers from trying to tamper with the results.
Risking job-loss and jail time, it might seem absurd that some Southeast Texans still try just about anything to cheat on the test.
Simpson-Perry says that shows of the power of addiction and breaking free does not happen overnight.
"Whenever a person finally reaches their bottom, whatever their bottom may be, then and only then is recovery possible," said Simpson-Perry. "Anything is possible, recovery is possible, and change is possible."
The Spindletop Center has substance abuse treatment programs and mental health services are even offered for dual diagnosed clients.
To schedule an evaluation in Beaumont call: (409) 839-1033.
Port Arthur: (409) 813-8340
Orange: (409) 839-3851
Silsbee: (409) 386-6772
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