Hair Drug Testing: 5 Things You Need To Know |
HealthLifestyleSelf HelpTreatmentsWellness

Hair Drug Testing: 5 Things You Need To Know

If you are opting for a new role, you might have heard about drug testing. It has become a prevalent practice to comply with rules laid by regulatory bodies. Either you’re a potential candidate, existing employee, or employer, drug testing can discourage substance abuse and provide a healthy and safe work environment. Although conventional tests include urine, blood, or swab testing, hair drug testing is becoming increasingly popular due to its efficacy. 


A hair follicle testing or hair drug testing is an accurate way of screening illicit drugs in the body. Moreover, it can detect the misuse of any prescription medicines. The data shows more than 200 million people worldwide use drugs, and over 35 million suffer from drug use disorders. Reports also reveal that drug and alcohol use contribute to 65 percent of job-related accidents and 50 percent of all compensation claims. Therefore, there is a requirement for a precise testing method that is simple and error-free yet detects prior use of drugs, if any. The hair drug test is an efficient way to avert the ill health effects of drugs and diminish the chance of accidents and injuries under its influence. For a comprehensive understanding, here are the five things you need to know about hair drug testing.

1. What Are The Applications Of Hair Drug Testing?

If you think that hair drug testing is only viable for workplace drug detection, you’re wrong. Although it is one of the trending job-specific requirements, forensic toxicology also utilizes this test. Whether drug-related crimes, deaths, or child protection, the hair drug test provides comprehensive results. Besides, its other applications range from clinical toxicology to doping control. 


2. How Does a Hair Drug Test Initiate?

The hair drug test uses a considerable amount of hair, say almost 90 to 130 strands, for screening. The hair is usually cut from the head. But if there is little or no hair, the tester will take the body hairs that include underarms, arms, chest, legs, and even face. The sample should constitute the roots that are attached to the blood vessels. Whenever someone consumes a drug, it is absorbed in the bloodstream and eventually passes to the hair follicle through the blood vessels. That is why testing the roots can help detect the presence of traces of drugs in the body. 


3. The Drugs That Fall Under The Radar

Hair follicle analysis is successful in screening a variety of different drugs. The tests range from 4-panel to 6, 7, 10, and 12-panel depending on the drugs screened. The fundamental drugs that this test detects are MDMA, pot, cocaine, and opiates. Others may include oxycontin, phencyclidine, oxymorphone, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and  PCP. 


4. How Hair Analysis Takes Place?

After the sample is collected, the collector takes it to the lab for testing. These samples undergo two different testing processes for accuracy. The first is rapid screening through ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay), which requires a maximum of a day to provide results. If the test is positive, it will undergo another test through the Chromatography technique (Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry). This particular test will also show the substance used in a specified period. The results obtained are highly sensitive, so there is direct delivery to the concerned person or organization. If the report is inconclusive, maybe due to contamination or insufficient collection of samples, the test is repeated. 


5. What Is The Precision Of The Test?

While any other drug test can detect substances used in the last couple of days, a hair test can find drug use as long as three months back. It can help to understand the habit of an individual. As hair drug analysis is more sensitive than urinalysis, it can screen intermittent and long-term use of substances. That is why this analysis can differentiate between addictive and recreational drug use. 

A hair test is difficult to cheat. Any amount of hair coloring or washing can’t get rid of the presence of drugs in the hair. The only disadvantage that can interfere with the result is that the hair follicle test does not detect recent drug use. Sometimes, prescription painkillers are also diagnosed as substances in the report. In both cases, a second test is necessary to establish the correct result.  



Out of all other available drug tests, the hair follicle test is generally stable. The sample collection is effortless and non-invasive, with less chance of microbial growth. It means there is again a fewer possibility of transmission of disease while handling the same. Therefore, the probability of manipulation of results is negligible. Moreover, by using the same sample multiple times, the likelihood of accuracy increases. This analysis thus helps to take the necessary steps to combat the negative implications of drug use. Ultimately, what matters most for an individual or organization is a healthy and drug-free environment. 

Emma Willson
Emma is a passionate writer & guest blogger. Writing helps her to improve her knowledge, skills & understanding about the specific industry. She loves writing & sharing her knowledge mostly in the fashion & lifestyle industry. She is passionate about spreading her knowledge & tips across the world. Apart from writing, she loves traveling, styling & cooking.