Common Substances Causing False Positives for Amphetamines in Drug Tests

Many organizations require drug screening, whether you're applying for a job, seeking child custody or in other situations. According to Laxmaiah Manchikanti, M.D., and colleagues in their article for "Pain Physician," some substances are highly cross-reactive for amphetamine or methamphetamine and provide a false positive. Dr. Manchikanti says if a urine drug test is positive, more advanced tests should be used to confirm that amphetamine or methamphetamine is present.


Bupropion and desipramine--two antidepressants that many people take for depression--may cause a false positive for amphetamines in routine urine drug screening. Some research has indicated that bupropion reduces the craving for methamphetamine, such as research by Thomas F. Newton and colleagues for Neuropsychopharmacology in 2006.

Bupropion is an atypical antidepressant that's sold as Wellbutrin and Wellbutrin XL. Desipramine--Norpramin--is an older antidepressant in the tricyclic group of antidepressants. Another tricyclic antidepressant, trazodone-- Desyrel--may also yield a false positive for amphetamines if you take this medication.

Vicks Inhaler and Cold Remedies

According to Tai C. Kwong, Ph.D., in his chapter on false positives to drug testing in the book, "Handbook of Drug Monitoring Methods," using the Vicks inhaler renders a false positive for methamphetamine in urine drug tests because it has a small amount of l-methamphetamine. More sophisticated drug testing, as with one of the spectrometry methods, should reveal that the person is not an abuser. The numerous cold medications that contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine can also cause a false positive for amphetamine or methamphetamine on a urine drug screen. Some states have limited the sale of such medications or had pharmacists move the drug to the pharmacy control to limit sales because they can be used as precursors to make methamphetamine illegally.

Parkinson's Drugs

Selegiline is a drug used to treat people with Parkinson's disease. It has been found to yield a false-positive result for amphetamines, according to Kwong. Amantadine is another anti-Parkinson's drug that may yield false positives for amphetamine.

Amphetamine Medications

People taking drugs such as Adderall or Dextrostat for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder--ADHD--have a positive result on a drug test for amphetamine because these drugs are amphetamines, and are often used lawfully. However, if you have been diagnosed with ADHD, you should be able to show the tester a prescription from a physician for the drug and if necessary, the doctor can also be contacted directly to verify that the drug was prescribed to you. It's illegal for anyone to give prescribed amphetamines--or any other prescribed drugs--to other people.

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