All You Need to Know About Hair Follicle Drug Tests
Of all the drug tests, hair follicle test is considered one of the most reliable drug tests to find out illicit drug use or prescribed medicine addictions. While urine test is undoubtedly the most common and one that yields instant results, it is easy to manipulate and may not always show the best results. So, what is a hair follicle drug test? How is it done? How accurate is it? A lot more questions like that will be answered here.
What is a Hair Follicle Drug Test?
A hair follicle drug test is done to determine the use of illicit drugs or addiction to prescription medicine. A sample of hair is taken from the person’s body and tested in a certified professional laboratory. Although hair from any part of the body can be used for the same, hair from the head is mostly preferred for accurate results.
Hair follicle drug tests can accurately show results for many drugs like marijuana, amphetamines, including methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), and MDEA, cocaine, opiates (heroin, codeine, and morphine), and phencyclidine (PCP). This kind of testing is mostly preferred by employers to make sure that potential employees are not misusing any prohibited drugs.
Some courts also demand these drug tests in various cases to ensure that no probation rules are broken or in cases that involve child custody, severe criminal charges, and so on.
How is the Hair Follicle Drug Test Done?
A hair sample is taken from the person’s body (preferably head) by a professional tester. Even though It is called the hair follicle drug test, it’s not the hair follicle that is actually tested, the hair sample is cut close to the scalp instead. After collection, the sample is sent to the laboratory for testing.
Testing is done in 2 stages. The first stage is the rapid screening enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. In the case of a positive result, the second stage is executed where confirmatory chromatographic testing is done to make sure there are no inaccurate positives. Many edibles and medicines contain compounds that can lead to a false positive which is why the second test is highly recommended to yield accurate results.
How Accurate is A Hair Follicle Drug Test?
A drug enters the bloodstream to be metabolized and broken down into metabolites by the body. These metabolites circulate throughout the body with the blood which causes drug metabolites to deposit into the hair follicle. As the hair grows about half an inch a month, samples of 1.5 inches from the scalp are the most useful for drug testing. While determining the exact date of consumption is not possible, however, evidence can remain in the hair from a week to approximately 90 days of use. So why is hair testing their choice?
As for the possibility of manipulation is concerned, it is not possible to tamper with the sample since it is directly collected by the tester. However, the technician conducting the tests must be properly trained to assure that the results are accurate.
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