Same day local dispatch

New Zealand owned

1-3 year warranty

NZ's breathalyser specialist

Hair Follicle Drug Test: Definition, Procedure, and Accuracy

10 January, 2024

A professional placing a hair sample in a container using a tweezer

hair follicle drug test is a testing method to detect the presence of drugs or drug metabolites. Accordingly, it involves collecting a small sample of hair and analysing it to identify any exposure to drugs. Precisely, to conduct the hair drug testing, a professional will collect a hair sample and forward it for laboratory analysis. Nevertheless, it is accurate and reliable due to the way it can detect illegal drugs over a long period of time.

Illicit drug testing is becoming increasingly common in various settings, from workplaces to legal testing. While saliva and urine testing are common, hair follicle testing is popular as it offers a comprehensive analysis of the drug history of a person. By examining the strands of hair, it can detect a wider range of illicit substances. This article will present hair follicle drug testing, including how to conduct it and why it is an accurate and reliable form of drug testing.

What Is a Hair Follicle Drug Test?

The hair follicle drug test is a method that involves analysing samples of hair to detect the presence of various drug classes or their metabolites. This type of testing can identify patterns of drug use over an extended period. It can monitor drug residue spanning up to 90 days and more. Accordingly, hair drug tests are commonly used in various settings.

In an employment context, companies may require employees to undergo hair testing. This may be part of pre-employment screening, reasonable suspicion testing, or post-accident testing. It helps employers to ensure that their workforce is free from the influence of positive drugs. Also, it maintains a safe and productive work environment.

Furthermore, in legal settings, including court cases and probation programs, hair sample testing is used. This is to monitor individuals who are required to remain drug-free as a condition of their legal status. Moreover, in a medical setting, a hair strand drug test occurs to assess patients with substance abuse issues. This is also to monitor people who are undergoing drug rehabilitation programs.

Advantages Over Other Testing Methods

The following are the advantages of hair sample drug tests over saliva, blood, and urine drug testing:

  • Detection window: one of the primary advantages of the method of drug testing is its extended detection of drug use. While the other testing methods can only detect recent frames of drug use, hair testing can identify drug metabolites, typically up to three months.
  • Reliable: the structure of the hair shaft preserves drug metabolites over time.
  • Unobstructive sample collection: collecting the body hair sample is a non-invasive process.
  • Reduces the likelihood of sample adulteration: the collection and handling minimise the potential for tampering.

A technician placing a hair sample in a vial with medical equipment in the background

How to Conduct a Hair Follicle Drug Test

Conducting a hair follicle drug test requires several steps to ensure accuracy and reliability. The first step is the collection of a hair sample from the individual undergoing testing. This typically involves cutting inches of head hair close to the scalp. Then, the professional will seal and secure the sample and transport the specimen to the testing laboratory.

At the testing facility, the hair sample undergoes a preparation process to extract the drug metabolites within the hair shaft. This involves washing the hair to remove external contaminants. Accordingly, the conductor will liquefy the specimen to release the target drug compounds. The next step involves the application of analytical techniques to identify and quantify any drug metabolites.

Analytical methods, such as mass spectrometry, are utilised to achieve high sensitivity and specificity in detecting a wide range of illicit substances. After that, the professional will interpret the results of the analysis. This is done by comparing the presence and levels of drug metabolites against cutoff levels. Once it is complete, the testing laboratory will generate a comprehensive result.

What Can Be Detected?

Hair drug testing is capable of detecting a wide range of substances. Foremost, it can monitor active compounds in cannabis or marijuana metabolite. Accordingly, it can detect cocaine compounds. It is a potent stimulant that can impair cognitive functions. Also, it can identify opiates such as heroin, codeine, and morphine. The use of methamphetamine also leaves drug markers.

Additionally, the method of testing can detect the presence of a wide range of legal substances or prescription medications, like benzodiazepines. They often require this test to monitor compliance with medications and to identify potential abuse. Moreover, it can monitor ethanol, an active ingredient in alcoholic beverages.

Three professionals working in a laboratory to ensure the accuracy and reliability of hair testing

Why Is a Hair Follicle Drug Test Accurate and Reliable?

The hair follicle drug test is accurate and reliable due to several key factors. Firstly, it provides comprehensive evidence of drug use. This enhances the thoroughness and retrospective insight of the testing. Secondly, when a person uses illicit drugs, it enters the bloodstream and becomes deposited into hair as it grows. This incorporation allows for the detection of historical patterns of substance use.

Thirdly, hair samples are relatively resistant to external contamination and tampering. This enhances the reliability of the testing by reducing the likelihood of false-positive results. Accordingly, the analytical techniques in the testing are highly precise and sensitive. Moreover, laboratory equipment and professionals play a crucial role in ensuring the reliability of the analytical process.

In situations where initial screening yields positive results, confirmatory testing techniques, such as Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), may be used. This is to confirm the presence of specific substances. Also, hair testing can detect a broad range of substances. The comprehensive drug panel ensures that a diverse array of substances can be identified. This contributes to the accuracy and reliability of results.

Are There Risks for False Positive Results?

Yes, despite its accuracy and reliability, hair testing is not immune to the possibility of false-positive results. The hair samples can be susceptible to contamination, such as environmental exposure. While stringent protocols are in place, the risk still exists. Also, certain substances may have structural similarities to the target drugs being tested.

Moreover, passive exposure to drugs, such as being in close proximity to individuals who are using drugs, may result in the transfer of drug particles to the hair. Furthermore, some cosmetic products, such as specific hair treatments, may contain substances that could interfere with hair follicle testing.

Conclusion

The hair follicle drug test is an effective and reliable method for detecting drug use. It involves analysing hair samples to detect the presence of illicit drugs or their metabolites. Accordingly, it is beneficial in various settings, such as for employment, legal proceedings, and medical reasons. Furthermore, the method of testing has multiple advantages over the other testing methods. It has the widest detection window, a non-invasive sample collection procedure, and a low potential for tampering.

Conducting the hair testing requires several steps. It starts with the collector gathering hair samples. Then, they send it to a testing facility for analysis. Moreover, it can detect a wide range of substances like cocaine, marijuana, opiates, prescription medications, and ethanol. Nevertheless, the hair drug test is accurate and reliable for several reasons. It provides comprehensive evidence of drug use, it is relatively resistant to external contaminants, and it incorporates analytical techniques.

0
    Shopping Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
      Calculate Shipping
      Shipping options will be updated during checkout.
      A professional placing a hair sample in a container using a tweezer

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Driving Restrictions? (P Platers, Zero Tolerance etc)

      Is Device Size Important?

      Is Device Size Important?

      Is Device Size Important?

      Your Perfect Match

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Why upgrade?

      Would you like extra mouthpieces?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Thank you for registering your breathalyser.

      Our system will now automatically send you a notification when your calibration is due.

      You may be interested in…

      Your Perfect Match

      Also Recommended

      Why upgrade?

      Your Perfect Match

      Why upgrade?

      Are you Testing Employees?