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Drug Testing, Part 2: Hair Follicle Testing

Drug Testing Part 2: Hair Follicle Testing

Drug testing has become a regular part of everyday life, whether it is for employment or insurance reasons, parents testing their children, or as a condition of probation or a family law order. This article will continue a previous blog topic about drug testing, this time focusing on Hair Follicle Testing. This type of testing is standard for many federal employees as well as some private companies. This test is typical if there is suspicion of low-level usage, or usage that would have been further back than a urine test could detect.

What is Hair Follicle Testing?

Hair Follicle testing is a drug test done via your body's hair. The process is called se of enzyme-immunoassay, which detects trace amounts of substances that have been taken. The process needs around seventy to one hundred individual strands of hair, which is then tested for the substance. Generally, the hair that is tested is the hair closest to the scalp, going out about an inch to an inch in a half. The hair does not have to be from the same place, a sampling across your scalp could be sufficient. Individuals with very short hair, or who are bald, are able to have the hair samples taken from other areas of the body, such as arms or legs.

How Long is the Detection Period?

One of the reasons Hair Follicle testing may be preferred, is due to a longer detection period. A urine test will only cover a few prior days of use, with the exception of marijuana, while a Hair Follicle test typically has a range of around ninety days, or three months. Some tests may be able to determine rough periods of use, however exact days or weeks are often impossible to determine.

What Types of Drugs Can Be Detected?

Hair Follicle testing can test for a wide array of drugs including: methamphetamines, opiates, marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, PCP, and barbiturates. Depending on the quality of the test, the results may be able to determine differences in types of drugs within the same class, for example morphine, oxycodone or heroin, within the opiate class.

What Happens If I Dye My Hair?

Dying or coloring your hair will not have any effect on the results of your test. Other hair treatments, such as the administration of a chemical during a perm, will also have no effect upon your result. Excessive shampooing, or conditioning of your hair, will also not remove the substances from your hair nor affect your test results.

What If My Results Come Back Positive?

Obviously if your results come back positive, there is a good likelihood that you had consumed some sort of controlled substance. However, you do have the ability to contest the results of your Hair Follicle test. The sample that is taken will be large enough for at least two full rounds of testing. If you have received a false positive, the laboratory can retest the remaining sample to determine if an error was made.

In general Hair Follicle Tests are an effective method of drug detection. While those subjected to a urine test may be able to delay the test for a few days and thus be able to purge their systems, this is not usually possible when taking a Hair Follicle Test. There are products that claimed to be "masking agents" that would prevent the tests from coming back positive, however these agents are rarely effective, as it is standard practice in most testing labs to wash all of the hair before it is tested. If you are going to take any type of drug test and are concerned about the results of a failure, you should contact an attorney to determine what possible repercussion you could be facing as well as any possible defenses that you may have.

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