Your hair not only says a lot about your personality but also about the drugs you have used. You can crop it, cut it, or even colour it, but your hair will talk candidly about you in a drug test. Testing hair follicles has become a highly efficient and effective way of detecting the use of illicit drugs or even the misuse of prescription drugs. Several employers and even courts prefer using this drug test to determine drug abuse.
Do you have to undergo a hair drug test, or maybe you are just curious about it? Dive right in to know everything about this drug testing method.
What is hair drug testing?
A hair drug test is among the newest drug testing methods and has become a popular choice for employers quickly. The test analyses the drugs present within the hair shaft and not bodily fluids like saliva or urine. Compared to body fluids analysis, the hair testing method is highly resistant to evasion by substituting the sample or adulterating it.
During the test, a small amount of your hair is taken from the head using scissors. The experts analyze your hair sample to find drug use signs 90 days before the test. A person may have to undergo the hair drug test for legal, employment, or even medical reasons.
What are the five things to know about hair drug testing?
While hair drug testing has become quite common today, many myths and misconceptions surround it. Whether you have to undergo a hair drug test or not, it is wise to know the basics of this drug testing method. Here’s all you must know about hair drug testing:
Drugs detected in it:
A hair drug test is the most commonly used method today to determine drug use or abuse because it can detect virtually any drug or alcohol. For a long time, the hair test could only catch a few medications. But with the recent advancement in technology, the list of drugs that can be seen continues to grow. The following are the drugs that can show up in a hair test:
- Basic opiates
- Expanded opiates
A hair drug test can test for the presence of different drugs simultaneously due to panels. A panel is a medical term used for the type of drug screening, which can also mean a package or a combination. Drug panels allow experts to include the test’s different drugs, like alcohol, opiates, and synthetic drugs. A few commonly used hair drug testing panels are – 5-panel hair test, 14-panel hair test, and hair test for alcohol.
Understanding the results
If you have to go through a hair drug test, your primary concern would be the test results, irrespective of the reason. There can be three different results of a hair drug test, and they are:
It is given that almost every person who has to go through the drug test hopes for a negative result. A harmful product will imply that the laboratory did not detect the presence of any drug metabolites in your hair sample or through the ELISA screening test. It indicates that you haven’t engaged in the use of illicit drugs in the past 90 days. The negative result can be determined within 24 hours from the removal of hair.
It can take around 72 hours to get a positive result from the sample. All the tests with a nonnegative report go through a second test known as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). A positive test result will confirm that the laboratory found specific drug metabolites in the person’s hair sample.
In case the sample gets contaminated, or something goes wrong during the testing procedure, the experts at the laboratory may give an inconclusive result. Sometimes, you can get an inconclusive result even when the testing procedure is followed correctly. In such circumstances, the person may need to undergo the test again.
Even though it is a relatively new method, hair drug tests are indeed very accurate. The collection and testing procedures adhere to a set standard to ensure the accuracy of results. During the testing procedure, they wash the hair sample and check for environmental contamination that may affect the results. Even if you colour, dye, or wash your hair, the results will not get involved. Besides that, the laboratory conducts two tests ELISA and GC/MS, to guard against a false positive.
Period drugs stay in the hair.
Unlike other drug tests that involve saliva or urine samples, hair drug testing goes back beyond that. Hair follicles grow at the rate of half-inch per month on average. For instance, if the hair is 18 inches long and takes a strand’s ends, it can find drugs consumed even three years ago. It is so because when you consume drugs, the particles enter hair follicles and strands and stay there for long.
Hair drug testing has become the norm in many medical, corporate, legal, and even educational institutions. More organizations are relying on this accurate and thorough test to determine drug use in the past. While you may have heard many rumours about hair drug tests, you must keep the above things in mind to avoid any confusion.