Metformin is one of the most common drugs prescribed to manage type 2 diabetes. It’s a big player in the fight against type 2, but it has some significant limitations. While metformin may be useful to keep around as a secondary weapon in your diabetes arsenal, it doesn’t have quite the same reach as other primary weapons like insulin or lifestyle changes.
And if you take metformin and undergo a drug test for any reason, there’s a chance that the test might show positive for an endpoint that indicates you’ve taken some kind of medication containing metformin. That could come up as an issue if you have licensing requirements; job interview requirements; insurance requirements; or other factors where failing a drug test could have consequences for your life. Read on to learn more about whether or not this is something that could apply to you, and what you can do about it if it does!
What is Metformin?
Metformin is a type 2 diabetes medication that decreases blood sugar by decreasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver, and by increasing the amount of glucose taken up by the cells in the body. It doesn’t affect insulin itself, but it does indirectly impact insulin by lowering blood sugar. It’s also used for things like polycystic ovary syndrome, prediabetes, and certain eating disorders.
Metformin is prescribed to a huge number of people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, a lot of people with type 2 take it long-term even after they’re able to manage their blood sugar with other methods. It’s also commonly prescribed as a first-line treatment for type 2 in many countries. It’s often prescribed in conjunction with lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, and weight loss.
Why Is Metformin Prescribed for Type 2 Diabetes?
Let’s start with a bit of history. Metformin has been available since the 1950s and was one of the first drugs used to manage type 2 diabetes. Within a decade, it was the most commonly used drug.
Metformin is commonly prescribed because it’s one of the least expensive, least invasive, and most effective methods of managing type 2 diabetes. In fact, it’s one of the most common, cost-effective treatments for any chronic disease.
It’s been extensively studied and has a long, long track record of safety. Many other drugs prescribed for type 2 diabetes are newer and less tested.
How Does Metformin Work?
Metformin works by decreasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver and increasing the amount of glucose taken up by the cells in the body. So, it doesn’t affect insulin itself, but it does indirectly impact insulin by lowering blood sugar.
A lot of people with type 2 take metformin long-term even after they’re able to manage their blood sugar with other methods. Metformin has the primary benefit of being a very safe drug with virtually no side effects. It also has some metabolic advantages over other drugs, like it may take longer to kick in and last a bit longer, and it affects cells in the body differently than insulin does.
The Limitations of Metformin
Metformin is a very common, low-cost, common, safe, and effective type 2 diabetes drug. It’s a great first-line treatment for many people with type 2, and it’s often prescribed as a first-line treatment in many countries.
Metformin has one significant drawback, though: it doesn’t lower blood sugar in all people with type 2 diabetes. In fact, it works in only about a third of people with type 2. Some people with type 2 who take metformin experience little to no effect.
Metformin is also not the most effective type 2 diabetes drug, and when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work really well. If you’re taking metformin and managing your blood sugar, it’s probably a good idea to have another method of managing your blood sugar as a backup.
Strategies to Manage Drug Testing While Taking Metformin
If you take metformin long-term, you need to be aware that drug tests may pick up on it. If you’re in a profession where you need to pass a drug test, you’re taking a risk by taking metformin.
If you’re taking metformin long-term and planning on passing a drug test, some people suggest that you stop taking it as much as two weeks before the test.
However, this may cause your blood sugar to go too low and make you feel unwell. It may also result in your test results coming back negative even if you’re actually taking metformin.
If you’re taking metformin regularly, it’s probably a good idea to have an endocrinologist help you figure out how to get a good result on a drug test without triggering hypoglycemia.
And if you’re not taking metformin regularly, a small amount isn’t likely to trigger a drug test result.
Final Words: Is This Something That Matters to You?
If you’re on metformin now and are planning on taking a drug test, it’s important to keep in mind that a small amount of metformin probably won’t trigger a positive result.
However, if you’re taking a lot of it, or you’ve been taking it long-term, you may want to consider stopping taking it.
If you’re taking a lot of metformin and need to pass a drug test and you don’t want to stop taking it, your endocrinologist can help you figure out what to do.
If you’re on metformin and aren’t taking it regularly, a small amount probably won’t show up on a drug test. If you’re taking it regularly, though, you may want to consider stopping, because it’s likely that a small amount of metformin will trigger a positive drug test result.