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What causes false positive for alcohol during drug test?

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Posted on Mon, 18 May 2015
Question: My son is 25 years of age he had a random drug and alcohol test by using a swab. He came up positive for alcohol however he does not drink and has not used any cold medicine they had him blow into a machine and blew triple 0s
what could be going on with him.
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Answered by Dr. Matt Wachsman (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
not quite sure of the test

Detailed Answer:
but if the breathalizer came up zero....?
There are several tests for alcohol. All of them can have false positives under some circumstances. Sounds like it is an enzyme based strip test that direct tests alcohol by having it react with an enzyme that breaks down alcohol and produces a chemical reaction that turns an indicator XXXXXXX color.
http://www.YYYY.nih.gov/pmc/articles/YYYY0000/
http://www.YYYYmedical.com/YYYYScreen.htm
note that directions require not having anything in the mouth for a full 15 minutes prior to the test because a wide range of things react with the enzyme, the indicator or the XXXXXXX or the strip. I think this is one of two likely reasons it MISFIRED and GAVE A WRONG READING.
The other possibility on a different alcohol test probably does NOT apply here. Urine tests for a different chemical are messed up by bacteria that make the chemical. I wonder about mouth bacteria making alcohol, but I've no data or papers to support his worry.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Matt Wachsman

Addiction Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :1985

Answered : 4158 Questions

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What causes false positive for alcohol during drug test?

Brief Answer: not quite sure of the test Detailed Answer: but if the breathalizer came up zero....? There are several tests for alcohol. All of them can have false positives under some circumstances. Sounds like it is an enzyme based strip test that direct tests alcohol by having it react with an enzyme that breaks down alcohol and produces a chemical reaction that turns an indicator XXXXXXX color. http://www.YYYY.nih.gov/pmc/articles/YYYY0000/ http://www.YYYYmedical.com/YYYYScreen.htm note that directions require not having anything in the mouth for a full 15 minutes prior to the test because a wide range of things react with the enzyme, the indicator or the XXXXXXX or the strip. I think this is one of two likely reasons it MISFIRED and GAVE A WRONG READING. The other possibility on a different alcohol test probably does NOT apply here. Urine tests for a different chemical are messed up by bacteria that make the chemical. I wonder about mouth bacteria making alcohol, but I've no data or papers to support his worry.