A hair follicle drug test is a type of drug screening that analyzes a small sample of hair to detect the presence of drugs or their metabolites in the body. It is often used by employers and organizations as part of their drug testing programs. Hair follicle testing is known for its ability to detect drug use over a longer window of time compared to urine or saliva tests.
How does it work?
During a hair follicle drug test, a small sample of hair is collected from the individual’s scalp or other parts of the body. The sample is typically taken close to the scalp to capture recent drug use, as hair grows at a rate of about 0.5 inches per month. The standard length of hair analyzed is usually 1.5 inches, which can cover a drug-use history of about 90 days.
The hair sample is then sent to a laboratory where it undergoes specialized testing. The lab technicians wash the hair to remove any external contaminants that might be present. After that, they use various techniques, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), to detect the presence of drugs or their metabolites within the hair shaft.
What drugs can be detected?
Hair follicle drug tests can detect a wide range of drugs, including but not limited to:
Longer detection window compared to other tests (up to 90 days).
More difficult to adulterate or cheat than urine tests.
Can provide a historical pattern of drug use.
Limitations of hair follicle drug testing:
It cannot detect recent drug use within the last few days (since it takes time for drugs to be incorporated into hair).
Some drugs may not be as easily detected in hair as in other matrices like urine.
There is a possibility of external contamination if drugs are present in the environment.
If you are facing a hair follicle drug test and are concerned about the results, it is essential to be honest and open with the testing authority about any prescription medications or legitimate drug use you may have had within the detection window. Always follow the rules and regulations of the organization conducting the test, and seek legal advice if you have any concerns about your rights and privacy during the testing process.