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ADHD Meds & Job Drug Tests

It’s been a long time since I’ve applied for a position which required a drug test for employment. Until now I hadn’t realized that was yet another perk of freelancing and self employment. According to NIDA, certain ADHD medications may trigger a positive result on drug tests. Unfortunately, it can be hard to know if you will be tested as testing is on the rise and many employers choose not to reveal they use tests until after an interview.

After trolling my Facebook feed it hit me that this is an issue that may adversely affect many taking ADHD medications. Protocol for a failed drug test is often to simply not call the prospective employee back at all or to generically communicate to them they didn’t get the position. A failed test can potentially stay in the employer’s system for years and flag that applying individual from ever achieving employment with their company. I know because I’ve been on the hiring end and the testing end at different points in my career.

Some applicants may think that self testing prior to an appointment might show whether they need to disclose possible ADHD medications, but they may have a more powerful test. Further, many modes of testing now exist you may not be aware of and asked to use instead of standard testing. Panel tests can mean one positive for a multi screen can mean no job. The administering doctor can see a single positive on a 13-panel drug test and still flag you without any questions and send the employer a simple positive or negative report instead of reporting a single positive and asking you if you take prescription meds.

Avenues for those using ADHD medication prescribed to them by a doctor include:

  • Being honest with your employer in the interview about your medications
  • Explaining why you take the medication and how it would benefit you at work
  • Offering to try a different medication if it causes an issue with employment standards
  • Bringing a doctor’s note to your interview and to the drug testing facility
  • Communicating clearly the possibility of a negative result with the nurse and office staff
  • Asking if specific drugs you currently take can be detected on a test

man with hands
There is no need to make doctor’s appointment for a note, simply call the office staff and explain your concerns. They will likely draft a letter for you to present to your employer. This note should not cost anything to obtain and be available the same day if it’s requested prior to the office taking lunch. Understand that asking too much about drug testing without a doctor’s note may come 0ff as suspicious. To learn more about prescription drug use and drug testing, check out this blog for current trends.

ADHD Meds & Job Drug Tests

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on December 9, 2016.

Amanda Emerson-Pelletier

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APA Reference
Emerson-Pelletier, A. (2019). ADHD Meds & Job Drug Tests. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 May 2019
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