Hair Follicle Drug Test

hair drug testing

One of the most common and effective tests for the presence of drugs in the body is the Hair Follicle Drug Test.

Understanding the Test

A hair follicle drug test, likewise called a hair drug test, screens for illicit drug use and the abuse of prescription medication. Throughout this test, a small amount of hair is removed from your head utilizing scissors. The sample is then examined for signs of drug use throughout the 90 days preceding the test. It’s normally used to test for:

  • amphetamine
  • methamphetamine
  • ecstasy
  • cannabis
  • drug
  • PCP
  • opioids (codeine, morphine, 6-acetylmorphine).

While a urine drug test can identify if you’ve used drugs in the last couple of days, a hair follicle drug test can detect drug use in the past 90 days.

Your work environment might ask for a hair follicle test to test for illicit substance abuse before hire or randomly throughout work. Some research study also suggests that hair drug testing can be beneficial for monitoring drug use in at-risk people when utilized together with self-reporting.

How do drugs enter into the hair? After you consume a drug, the substance itself or metabolites that are produced as the drug is processed by your body are transferred from your blood stream into the hair shaft through the hair follicle.

What Happen During Hair Follicle Drug Test?

Your hair follicle test might happen in a laboratory or within a hospital setting. Or your office might perform the test utilizing a set that’s then sent by mail to a laboratory. You can likewise purchase at-home hair follicle tests online.

If your office has actually mandated that you take the test, they’ll likely require you to be supervised throughout the testing process.

You can clean your hair, dye your hair, and use styling products without impacting the accuracy of the test.

After validating determining info, the collector will cut between 100 and 120 hairs from the crown of your head. They can gather the hairs from different spots on your crown to prevent producing a bald spot.

If you have very little or no hair on your head, the collector may use body hair for the test instead. The collector will place the hair in foil and after that in a protected envelope to be mailed for overnight testing.

How to Understand the Results

An unfavorable outcome can be figured out within 24 hours of hair removal. A test called ELISA is used as a screening test. This test determines if the hair sample is unfavorable for substance abuse. A negative outcome suggests that you haven’t engaged in illegal drug use over the previous 90 days. Extra testing is needed to verify a favorable outcome.

A positive drug test is verified after 72 hours. All nonnegative tests undergo a second test, called gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). It verifies a favorable test result. This test also recognizes the particular drugs used.

An inconclusive result isn’t common when testing treatments are followed. In many cases, incorrect collection of the hair specimen may result in the test being rejected completely. In this case, the test may be duplicated.

The lab accountable for testing will provide the outcomes to the individual or company asking for the test. They’ll utilize personal methods, like a secure fax, a telephone call, or an online user interface to share test results. Due to the fact that lab outcomes are confidential health info, you’ll require to sign a release before the results are passed on to your work environment.

Can the Test Detect the Date of Drug Use?

A hair drug test detects a pattern of duplicated substance abuse over the last 90 days. Due to the fact that hair growth rates differ from individual to person, this test can’t precisely identify when in the 90 days drugs were utilized.

Can Hair Test Detect One Time Drug Use?

While urine tests or saliva tests can pick up one time use, hair tests look for long term usage and resemble a timeline of usage. Furthermore, a positive result does not indicate the date of drug use, however rather drug concentration over a particular time period. When it comes to single usage, the results depend upon numerous aspects like drug type, hair type, metabolic process and so on.

Cocaine intake on one occasion is more likely to be detectable in hair than a one-off usage of THC (although this does not come as a certainty). The same gets alcohol: it depends upon the type of alcohol consumed, the amount, and the customer behavior beforehand etc. For this factor we recommend 100% abstinence for an unfavorable result.

Accuracy of Hair Follicle Drug Test

The collection and testing of hair for this test follows a very specific set of standards to increase precision. During testing, the collected hair is washed and tested for ecological contamination that could change the results of the test. Your results won’t be affected if you wash your hair, color your hair, or use styling products.

To guard against an incorrect favorable, laboratories carry out two tests. The first, called ELISA, is able to deliver a negative or positive outcome within 24 hours. The second, called GC/MS, is a widely accepted approach for validating a positive outcome. This second test can likewise test for particular drugs and can discover as lots of as 17 different drugs. The GC/MS likewise defends against false-positive results caused by foods like poppy seeds or hemp seeds.

One 2017 research study did discover inconsistency between self-reporting of marijuana usage and the results of hair drug tests. This might suggest the capacity of a false favorable.

Certain medications may influence the results of the test. If a physician has actually prescribed an opioid painkiller and you utilize them as directed, these drugs will appear on your test. In this case, your company will likely request you supply paperwork of prescriptions.

If you believe your hair drug test results are inaccurate, you might instantly request a retest from your company.


A hair drug test is more pricey than a urine drug test. An at-home kits costs between $64.95 and $85. Drug tests carried out in a hospital or laboratory may cost between $100 and $125.

If you’re a current staff member and your office needs you to take a hair follicle drug test, they’re required by law to pay you for the time invested taking the test. They’ll also spend for the test itself.

If a drug test is part of pre-employment testing, the employer isn’t needed to compensate you for your time.

Numerous insurance carriers cover drug tests if it’s carried out within a medical facility for medical functions, like an inpatient stay or an emergency room go to.

Hair Follicle Vs. Urine Drug Test

The main difference in between a hair follicle drug test and a urine drug test is the window of detection.

A urine drug test is used to test for drug use over the three days preceding the test. A hair follicle drug test is the only drug test that can discover duplicated drug use as much as 90 days prior to the test.

This is possible due to the fact that drugs present in the blood stream actually become a part of hair cells as the hair grows. The sweat and sebum present on your scalp might likewise contribute in drug presence in existing strands of hair.

Since of the rate of hair growth, drugs can’t be discovered in the hair till 5 to 7 days after usage. In the case of a work environment accident, a hair drug test wouldn’t be an appropriate test for finding current substance abuse.

If you have questions or concerns about your drug test results, connect to the medical evaluation officer, or MRO. An MRO evaluates drug test results and might have the ability to explain your test results.

Hair Drug Test Facts

General Information

Who is utilizing hair drug testing?

Countless corporations utilize Psychemedics’ test to evaluate candidates and carry out random drug tests on their employees. Schools have actually been using the Psychemedics test since 1997 to assist their students stay drug-free. Courts routinely utilize Psychemedics’ test in their probation, parole, and diversionary programs. The use of hair is well developed, and Psychemedics has been doing hair tests considering that 1987.

What drugs are consisted of in a basic hair drug test?

Drug, marijuana, opiates (consisting of heroin, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone), methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Eve (MDEA) and phencyclidine (PCP).

Does a Psychemedics hair test pull the hair out of the scalp to examine the follicle?

No. Checking a hair follicle would need a painful collection procedure. Psychemedics needs the tiniest sample in the industry, snipping above the scalp. No hair is “pulled” out of the scalp, and the hair follicle is not interrupted. Test collection is a completely painless, quick treatment.

What time period does a standard test cover?

A basic test of one-and-one-half inches of head hair cut near to the scalp can provide a numerous month window to discover drug ingestion.

How quick does head hair grow?

Research studies show that hair gathered at the crown of the head grows on the average around 1.3 cm (or 1/2 inch) each month. This growth rate might vary among people; as a result, the very same 3.9 cm length of hair might represent somewhat different period.

How does hair analysis compare to urinalysis?

The main difference is the larger window of detection with hair. Cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates, and PCP are quickly excreted and generally undetected in urine 72 hours after use. Rather than the hours or days covered by a body fluid test, a hair test covers a period of months, ensuring that a drug user can not evade the test by merely staying away for a few days. Extra benefits consist of: non-intrusive collection treatments, virtual removal of test evasion through substitution or adulteration, and greater accuracy through test repetition ability. The mix of an increased window of detection and resistance to evasion makes hair testing much more effective than urinalysis in properly identifying drug users.

How not long after drug usage can a drug be found in hair?

It takes approximately 5-7 days from the time of substance abuse for the portion of the hair consisting of that drug to grow above the scalp.

What is the shortest period that can accurately be examined?

In most scenarios, the minimum period is approximately one month. A hair test does not determine drugs used on a particular day or week.

How delicate is hair testing in spotting drug users?

Contrast research studies have actually proven that Psychemedics’ testing is up to 6-10 times more effective in recognizing drug users than urinalysis. To put it simply, 85% of the drug users recognized by a Psychemedics test might get through a urine test and get in the workforce.

Is all hair testing alike?

No, Psychemedics utilizes its exclusive food digestion method to eliminate essentially 100% of the drugs from the hair, thus increasing detection capabilities. Other labs might seep drug from the hair, leaving behind or destroying some of the drug at the same time. Psychemedics likewise employs a comprehensive wash procedure on test samples, and examines the wash to make sure that any prospective contamination has actually been removed or taken into consideration. Other labs might utilize a less reliable wash and/or do not analyze the wash, putting their clients at risk for making work choices based upon an outcome that may be reflective of external contamination.

How does Psychemedics establish its cut-off levels?

These levels are based on field research studies that develop the existence of the drugs following intake. These levels are consisted of in Psychemedics’ FDA submissions, and resemble the cut-off levels in the 2004 proposed SAMHSA necessary standards.


How much hair is required for a hair drug test?

Psychemedics’ basic test, along with GC/MS/MS or LC/MS/MS confirmation, normally requires a cosmetically undetectable lock of hair ideally snipped from the back of the head, simply below the crown. In general, the quantity needed is the density of a shoelace pointer. Hair analysis techniques utilized by other labs might need considerably more hair.

Can hair drug tests be operated on people with little or no hair?

Yes. Hair can be gathered from a number of areas on the head and integrated to obtain the needed quantity of hair. If head hair is not available, specific body hair can be utilized as an alternative.

Can hair collected from a brush be utilized?

No. For work environment drug test, Psychemedics needs a hair sample to be gathered utilizing the appropriate chain-of-custody procedures that will endure a legal difficulty. Psychemedics needs that the sample be submitted with Psychemedics Sample Acquisition Materials. The test topic must initial the sample to license the credibility of the sample at the time of collection.

How are collections carried out on prospects that utilize artificial hairpieces or accessories to their own hair?

The collection procedure permits the collector only to take the candidate’s natural hair. Natural head hair or nape hair can be taken. Body hair can likewise be taken when hair from those 2 sources is not available.

Where do I get help concerning collection?

Psychemedics offers comprehensive instruction through a composed training handbook and video. Both are available in English and Spanish. Additional aid is available through Client Service Managers devoted to each client, and from Psychemedics’ professional trainer.

Test Characteristics

Does chemical treatment of the hair affect the test results?

Typically utilized hair treatments (e.g., shampoos, conditioners, sprays, mousses and gels) have no significant effect on results. In truth, normal hair washing helps to get rid of external contamination. Normal hair treatments such as whitening, perming and dyeing usually will not significantly lower the quantitative results. If the protein matrix of the hair has actually been harmed to the point of breaking (cortex damage) the level of drug can be substantially impacted. Nevertheless, severely treated or harmed hair can be readily identified from the wash ratios and/or staining treatment.

Is there a risk that the results of a hair test can be impacted by environmental contamination?

Psychemedics makes use of numerous independent methods which, in various combinations, dismiss the possibility of a positive arise from external contamination. The first method involves substantial chemical cleaning of the hair specimen prior to testing, followed by analysis of the content of the wash. This wash analysis is a critical step to guarantee that any contamination is successfully represented. In addition,

Psychemedics determines the existence of metabolites. If drugs were in the air or on a person’s hands and thus got on an individual’s hair from outside, the drug would exist as the drug substance itself, and not as particular metabolites or with metabolite/parent drug ratios which are understood to be produced by consumption.

Psychemedics’ capability to distinguish and measure metabolites with its highly sensitive GC/MS/MS or LC/MS/MS equipment is one requirements utilized to eliminate the possibility of false positives from external contamination. In addition, any positive internal contamination (e.g., from passive inhalation or perhaps poppy seed usage) is distinguished from intentional drug usage by setting GC/MS/MS or LC/MS/MS cut-off levels above those which can be produced by passive internal direct exposure.

Research studies have shown that the mix of substantial cleaning, metabolite analysis, and proper cut-off levels are needed to prevent false positives due to external contamination.

Laboratory Procedures

Does Psychemedics carry out GC/MS/MS or LC/MS/MS verification of all favorable outcomes?

Psychemedics offers automatic verification for samples which test favorable.

What is done with the excess hair that is not tested?

The hair not utilized from the time period being evaluated and all staying hair is stored in the chain-of-custody sample acquisition pouch. Unfavorable hair is stored for around 1 month. Positive hair is stored for 2 years.

The length of time are positive test result reports continued file?

Lab records and test outcomes are kept for a five-year period.

Hair Follicle Drug Test & Law

Has Psychemedics’ drug testing been confessed in court?

Yes. Making use of Psychemedics’ hair testing for drugs of abuse has been regularly admitted in both state and federal courts, in addition to arbitrations and firm hearings. The test results are consistently upheld. Some court systems utilize hair analysis as part of their probation, parole, and diversionary programs.

Is hair testing consisted of in SAMHSA/NIDA standards?

Under SAMHSA/NIDA’s present guidelines for federally-mandated testing, urine is the only specimen included for evaluating specific civil servant which section of economic sector screening that falls under the Department of Transportation or other company guidelines. In a November 2008 press release, SAMHSA mentions that HHS will continue to pursue drug abuse testing utilizing alternative matrices, consisting of hair specimens, and prepares for releasing further revisions to the Mandatory Guidelines addressing using hair specimens.

Are Psychemedics’ tests controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?

The FDA sets minimum standards for drug tests used in a work environment setting, requiring that they be carried out with screening tests that have actually been authorized, cleared, or otherwise acknowledged by the Food and Drug Administration as “precise and reputable”. All of Psychemedics’ screening tests have been assessed and cleared by the FDA.


Hair follicle drug tests can recognize drug use as much as 90 days prior to the test date. That’s due to the fact that the chemicals from the drugs that wind up in your bloodstream become part of the hair cells as your hair grows.

Hair follicle drugs tests may not be suitable for figuring out recent substance abuse. That’s because it may take 5 to seven days for the drugs to be identifiable through a hair follicle test. Urine drugs tests are used to spot recent substance abuse.

If you’re taking prescribed medications, let the administrator of the test know. Medications might cause a false-positive test outcome.

This is an introductory article about a drug test in the body based on body hair. And we strongly recommend not to use drugs under any pretext, and if there are drug addicts in your environment, then leave communication with them. Team

References / About Reyus Mammadli (article's author)

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