Over-The-Counter(OTC) Drugs That Test Positive For BZO/Benzodiazepines

Over-The-Counter(OTC) Drugs That Test Positive For BZO/Benzodiazepines


Standard urine drug tests screen for the presence of MMJ, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and benzodiazepines, among others. Drug tests for benzodiazepines are typically performed using urine tests.

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However, specimens such as saliva, hair, sweat, and blood may also be used for detecting benzodiazepines. Drug test results may be positive, negative, or inconclusive. However, certain drugs, including over-the-counter medication, could show a false positive for illicit substances.

Why over-the-counter(OTC) drugs may test positive for benzodiazepines(BZO)?

Benzodiazepines are prescription medications that belong to the family of drugs known as antidepressants. Benzodiazepines are used to treat a variety of conditions that include depression, anxiety, amnesia, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms, among others. Benzodiazepines have a high potential for abuse, and their illicit use is associated with producing a feeling of joy, reward, and security. Common street names include Benzos, tranqs, and downers.

Many labs perform an initial drug using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for detecting benzodiazepine and other illicit substances. A confirmation test is required if the level of drugs analyzed is tested presumptive positive or above a certain cutoff level indicated for common drugs of abuse. The cross-reactivity of compounds in a certain drug class may show a false positive, even though a drug may be absent or below the initial test cutoff.

Existing standard drug tests often detect the presence of illicit substances, including benzodiazepines, without you actually taking them, leading to false positive. A confirmation test is carried out to confirm a false positive drug screen or, in some instances, a false negative. Confirmation tests typically employ either “gas chromatography-mass spectrometry” (GC/MS) or “liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry” (LC/MS) to eliminate false positives or false negatives.

Common Benzodiazepine (BZO) Drugs

Some of the common brands of benzodiazepines include:

  • Xanas
  • Valium
  • Klonopin
  • Ativan
  • Halcion
  • Restoril
  • Librium

OTC drugs that will test positive for Benzodiazepines (BZO)

The increasing instance of workplace drug testing for employees in the private and government sector, healthcare workers, for probation or criminal activity makes the accuracy and reliability of drug tests an essential factor. A drug test is often required for pre-employment, random-testing of employees based on reasonable suspicion, follow-up testing after rehabilitation in a clinical setting, and testing in safety-sensitive areas such as those regulated by DOT (Department of Transportation).

A false positive can potentially lead to a loss of employment, jail time, loss of privileges under probation, revocation of medical license, and exclusion from competitive sports. Correspondingly, it may lead to unnecessary investigation and treatment.

OTC medications that can cause a false positive for benzodiazepine include:

1. Tolmetin:

Tolmetin is a prescriptive non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat pain, swelling, and stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. However, tolmetin will show up in a standard drug test for benzodiazepines.

2. Naproxen

Naproxen is a NSAID commonly used to treat pain or inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, tendinitis, menstrual cramps, gout, and fever. Chronic ingestion of naproxen can show a false positive for benzodiazepines, including cannabinoids and barbiturates.

3. Fenoprofen

Fenoprofen is a NSAID similar to naproxen and ibuprofen. Common over-the-counter pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medications such as fenoprofen could show a false positive for benzodiazepines and barbiturates.

4. Oxaprozin

Oxaprozin is an NSAID that is used for treating pain or inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The use of oxaprozin can cause a false positive for benzodiazepines in standard drug tests.

5. Sertraline

Sertraline, also known as SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), is an antidepressant used to treat depression, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. Sertraline could lead to a false positive for benzodiazepines in most standard drug tests performed in the workplace and clinical setting.

What you need to know to avoid a false-positive for benzodiazepines?


Many OTC drugs will show a false positive for benzodiazepines in standard drug tests without actually taking them. In this connection, a recent study has confirmed that a significant proportion of false-positive results (26.5%) occurred in patients who had active prescriptions for sertraline at the time of the drug test.

In the wake of the rise in users of illicit substances in the workplace and corresponding drug testing measures for disciplining employees, it is essential to ensure the result of your drug test is accurate and follow established testing frameworks such as the Mandatory Guideline for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Program prescribed by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

Be sure to inform your employer, healthcare provider, or lab assistants about any prescription medicines, including illicit substances that you might be taking before going for the test, to avoid being shown a false positive. You have the right to screen the test specimen for the second time if you hold the positive results false or inconclusive.







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