If you've been taking bupropion (also known as Wellbutrin and Zyban), you may be worried it will show up on a drug test. Maybe you've been prescribed it for depression, and you would rather keep your medical history private from your employer. Bupropion actually has very little scope for abuse, and even though it's prescription only, it's not a controlled substance. Given this, will bupropion show up on a hair drug test? What can you do about it? What about other drug tests? We'll give you answers to these questions and more.
So, will bupropion show up on a hair 5-drug test?
A typical 5-drug test follows the model of the SAMHSA 5-panel drugs test, which tests for five basic drug groups that are commonly abused:
- Cannabinoids (i.e., weed and hash)
- Cocaine (including crack)
- Amphetamines (such as speed and meth, as well as maybe ecstasy)
- Opiates (such as heroin and morphine, but also codeine)
- Phencyclidine (i.e., PCP)
You'll notice straight away that these are hardcore street drugs and heavy pain medications, so why would you fail because you take bupropion? Unfortunately, there have been several cases of bupropion leading to false positives for amphetamine use on immunoassay urine tests. A hair test should be okay, however, because it usually uses more accurate, and expensive, GC-MS (Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry) analysis. So you're safe for hair tests, but what about if you're asked to give a urine sample? Also, it's possible to specifically test for prescription drugs like bupropion in hair drug tests.
What can you do about a false positive?
If you do get a false positive, you should insist on a more accurate GC-MS analysis. This is a matter of course in well-run testing labs, but if the HR department is doing the testing themselves, you might need to be more insistent. If needed, explain that you're taking bupropion and that this is known to cause false positives.
How can you avoid a false positive?
Probably the easiest way to avoid the whole situation is to use a good detox drink a couple of hours before you take a urine test. If you follow the directions, this will quickly cleanse your urinary system of bupropion. If there's no bupropion in your urine, it can't trigger a false positive. This may sound dishonest, but seeing as you're not taking any illegal drugs, it's not really a deception.
What about detox shampoos?
Employers are becoming increasingly concerned with the abuse of prescription drugs, so you may well be tested for more than the above five drug groups. If you would rather keep your medical history private, you can clean your hair with a special detox shampoo. These shampoos work differently to normal shampoos, which simply clean the outer surface of the hair. Instead, these shampoos penetrate deep into the hair strands to dissolve and wash away impurities. If you have very long or thick hair, note that you'll probably need to get two units to cover it sufficiently.