What Can Cause a False Positive for Barbiturates

Barbiturates are a group of drugs that includes, for example, Seconal, Mebaral, Nembutal Sodium and Butisol Sodium. Barbiturates were used as anesthetics, and as a treatment for anxiety and epilepsy. Because barbiturates were found to cause dependence, they are not commonly prescribed nowadays.

What Drugs Cause a False Positive for Barbiturates

There are certain drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are commonly used for mild to moderate pain, such as a headache and arthritis, as well as reducing a high temperature. Three of those drugs were found to cause a false positive for barbiturates. Below are three lists containing examples of those drugs.

Ibuprofen-containing analgesics:

  • Genpril
  • Motrin IB
  • Advil
  • Midol IB
  • Proprinal
  • Smart Sense Children’s Ibuprofen

Naproxen-containing analgesics:

  • Aleve, Naprelan 375, Naprosyn, Anaprox, Anaprox-DS, and EC-Naprosyn
  • Flanax Pain Reliever, Midol, Leader Naproxen Sodium, Comfort Pac with Naproxen, Naprelan 750, and Naprelan Dose Card.
  • Naproxen Sodium DS, Aleve Caplet, Aleve Gelcap, Aflaxen, Aleve Easy Open Arthritis.

Tolmetin-containing analgesics:

  • Tolectin 600
  • Tolectin
  • Tolectin DS

Why Do Those Drugs Cause A False Positive

Drug tests detect barbiturates in the system through certain types of assays, which lack specificity. In other words, those tests are not able to specifically detect barbiturates. Instead, drug tests depend on a structure-based technique that detects not only barbiturates and their metabolites; but also all drugs and metabolites that have structures similar to those of barbiturates, causing a false positive for barbiturates.

How Long Can Those Drugs Cause A False Positive For Barbiturates

As long as those drugs or their metabolites are still in your system, they are likely to cause a false positive for barbiturates.

Other factors

Importantly, other factors can significantly affect the false positive results of barbiturates’ tests. Those factors differ from a person to another, including:

  • Your age
  • your body mass
  • whether you’re a light or a chronic user of the previous drugs.
  • The administered dosage. For example, in case of administering an overdose of any of the previously-mentioned drugs, that will undoubtedly result in prolonging the time those drugs will stay in your body system.
  • Your metabolic rate of drugs, which determines how quickly your body can get rid of those drugs.
  • The type of tests you are required to undergo, as well as the time the test is performed. Each test has a certain time frame to detect certain drugs.


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