A famous Facebook short article proved misleading and also confusing quite than informative.

You are watching: Can energy drinks cause false positive drug tests

Published9 September 2019

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Rider Freese subsequently deleted the article in question, but she later shown its authenticity with a 2nd post in which she described that she had actually taken the down since its famous spread had actually caused her to be inundated through friend requests and messages. Although the original article was deleted, society media customers have continued to re-publishing a screenshot the it, an interpretation its claims continued to it is in promulgated.

The cases were inaccurate and also misleading in several ways, yet they did allude (whether knowingly or not) to a defect in part substance-testing ar kits that have actually caused innocuous substances to incorrectly test confident for medicine such together methamphetamines.

Experts told us that a false optimistic of this kind could, in principle, be developed in details tests that a sample the Red Bull or other power drinks, or a pee sample taken from a human being who had consumed the beverages. However, we discovered no proof of one actual pattern of together false optimistic test results.


The very first point to clarify is that neither Red Bull no one Bang nor any type of other energy drink includes methamphetamine, buprenorphine (often offered as suboxone), oxycodone (often offered as OxyContin), or MDMA (commonly recognized as ecstasy or X). What the meme alluded to (whether intended or unknowingly) to be the phenomenon that false positives, in which a medicine test incorrectly suggests the presence of a substance that is no present, either in a organic specimen (usually urine and blood) or a sample the the problem in question. The ingredient of both Red Bull and Bang deserve to be found listed here. 

Despite driver Freese’s claim that the energy-drink samples tested hopeful for various drugs, it’s no clear the the urine check cup in the second photograph illustrates any such confident tests. The check strips on to pee screen-test cups, such together the one presented in the photograph, invariably show a negative result where 2 horizontal red bars room visible. The only clearly visible check strips in driver Freese’s photograph present horizontal, twin red lines, suggesting negative results for unidentified substances. 

The 2nd misleading feature of the picture is the Rider Freese said she provided a urine screen test to display for methamphetamine, buprenorphine, and also oxycodone in a sample of Red Bull. This makes little sense, due to the fact that that type of check is offered to display screen for illicit substances in a person’s urine, no in a beverage. 

Testing substances, fairly than organic specimens, is done via a “presumptive problem test.” The common use of together a test would certainly be whereby police discovered a powder in someone’s car, which they suspected can be a prohibited substance prefer cocaine or heroin, for this reason they either send a sample the the problem for laboratory testing, or conduct a ar test themselves.

Typically, law-enforcement agents use a form of problem testing dubbed colorimetric testing, i beg your pardon involves adding a small sample of the questionable problem to a liquid solution, and also inducing specific chemical reactions that cause details changes in the shade of the solution. The visibility or lack of those color changes indicates the possible presence or lack of the substance being tested.

The adhering to is a helpful and relatively straightforward video clip guide come presumptive colorimetric drug ar tests, produced by Florida global University’s (FIU) nationwide Forensic Science technology Center:


These field tests room imperfect and also can sometimes create false positives. However, the preliminary or “presumptive” result they develop is frequently enough to give a law-enforcement agent probable reason to do an arrest. After that, samples are typically sent to a activities for “confirmatory” testing, which either confirms the early result, or shows that the initial an outcome was a false positive. 

Many private companies design various type of field-test kits and also sell them come law-enforcement organ throughout the united States. Those kits differ in your reliability, specificity, and also sensitivity, and a sample of false positives has arised in current years, with various innocuous family members substances showing up as illicit drugs. For example, the Marijuana policy Project has documented cases in which coco tested optimistic for hashish, flour tested optimistic for cocaine, and also soap tested positive for gamma-Hydroxybutyric mountain (GHB), which is used recreationally and also as a date rape drug. 

In 2017, Georgia mrs Dasha Fincher was arrested and imprisoned for 3 months, awaiting confirmatory check results, ~ police perform a ar test on a problem that produced a false confident for methamphetamine but was in fact cotton candy.

In principle, it’s feasible that a sample that Red Bull, Bang, or part other power drink can produce a false confident for among the drugs pointed out in the July 2019 meme. However, we uncovered no proof of an actual sample of Red Bull or Bang producing such false positives, which considerably undermines the insurance claim that Red Bull “pops” because that methamphetamine and Bang “pops” because that ecstasy. 

It should additionally be listed once again that Rider Freese attempted to assistance her cases with photographic proof of a urine check cup, which is a various test and also simply would not be provided to check a sample that a beverage (or any kind of other substance) as opposed come a to pee sample. Moreover, that photograph did not plainly show a hopeful test for any kind of substance.

It’s feasible but unlikely that a pee sample noted by someone that drank a can of power drink can test positive for methamphetamine or various other drugs. Even if that did, that would just be the an outcome of a false positive, just as in the case of substance testing.

Kirk Grates, chemistry research project manager in ~ FIU’s National Forensic Science modern technology Center, called chathamtownfc.net: “… There might be part analytes the are had within these previously mentioned energy drinks that could possibly reason a false positive.”

Certain not authorised items have actually been known to cause false positives for assorted drugs in individuals who consume them before providing a pee sample. Because that example, the over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID) ibuprofen has caused urine samples to provide false positives for phencyclidine (PCP), and other NSAIDs have detailed false positives because that marijuana. The pee of individuals who usage a Vick’s inhaler has actually been well-known to provide a false confident for methamphetamine. 

In principle, it’s possible that certain ingredients in Red Bull, Bang, or other power drinks might cause false positives because that the drugs detailed in rider Freese’s meme, however we uncovered no evidence of one actual sample to this effect. The photographs post by rider Freese did no constitute evidence of a positive an outcome for any type of substance, and, anyway, she claimed to have used a urine display screen test cup to check a sample that Red Bull itself, quite than the urine of an individual who had consumed the drink.

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On the whole, we uncovered no evidence to support the specific claims made in the meme, which to be in any kind of case to express in confusing and misleading terms. However, the picture may have alluded (whether knowingly or unknowingly) to the opportunity that the energy drinks in question, like other innocuous products, could in theory create false-positive test results for the drugs detailed in the meme, either through substance or pee testing. 

As such, we worry a rating the “Mostly False.” 

Published9 September 2019

Kelly, John. “False Positives same False Justice.” The Marijuana policy Project. 2008.