Heroin abuse is a growing problem in the USA and many other parts of the world, but until now testing for heroin with conclusive results has not been easy because this opiate comes from the opium poppy plant. This plant is also where poppy seeds come from, and if you eat poppy seeds then traditional drug testing for heroin abuse could cause a false positive for heroin. A new drug test has been developed that can distinguish between these two factors, making it easier for parents, courts, and employers to identify heroin abuse without concerns about false positive results. Researchers hope that the latest test can finally eliminate the poppy seed defense for heroin addicts. Recent research featured in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis shows great promise at eliminating the false results that poppy seed consumption can give.
The authors of the research study wanted to identify a substance that can be found in street heroin but that is not present in poppy seeds or even prescription opiates, and this substance was a unique metabolite that has been designated as ATM4G. If this metabolite is present in high amounts in the urine of the individual then this means heroin abuse has occurred. The research is still in the early stages but many believe this shows great promise for the drug testing industry. According to Dr Andrew Kicman ‘This research report addresses a longstanding analytical problem in forensic toxicology and workplace drug testing, by identifying a urinary marker that differentiates street heroin users from those whom have ingested morphine present in poppy seeds.” It may be some time before this type of testing is widespread though.