Drug testing has become a pretty standard norm with several employers today. While the process has been in place for some time, the tests have evolved to embrace ways of ensuring the highest accuracy of results to ensure enhanced safety in workplaces.
A hair follicle test is a reliable method used in specific drug testing processes. The test involves a hair sample of a minimum length of 1.5 inches obtained from the individual that is useful to evaluate traces of prohibited substances. Compared to other samples, such as urine, saliva, and blood, hair follicle tests have several advantages, such as low scope for manipulation, non-invasive sample collection, and reporting a more extended history of usage. Here we present five interesting facts about hair follicle drug tests that you should know.
1. It Gives Away A Longer Trail Of Drug Use
One of the most common notions among employees is that restricting the consumption of drugs just a few days before employment drug test is good enough to clear it. While the same is correct for every other form of drug test, the hair follicle is slightly trickier.
The process requires analyzing a strand of hair from your scalp. During the analysis, the hair can give away several intricate information about the history of drug use, such as when the person was using the drug, what drugs are used, and how long they used these substances. The test can tell if the drug consumption has been stopped yet or not.
The timeline of drug use for up to three months is easy to determine in this test. It is considered a longer history compared to what any other test can give out, such as urine or blood, as they can determine use only within a few days before the sampling. Also, one can go for synthetic urine in case one wants pass a drug test. There are plenty of synthetic urine products online to look out for.
2. It Is Not Easy To Cheat
Another advantage hair follicle tests hold over samples like saliva or urine is they are difficult to manipulate or cheat. Over the years, several ways to tamper with urine or saliva samples have come to common use that could challenge the accuracy of the test results. Also, given the sampling process occurs in a private area, the probability of ensuring authenticity is also challenging.
Hair follicle tests are simple and straightforward to conduct. The sample is retrieved by a professional, thus alleviating the possibility of any tampering. When it comes to manipulating the hair before sampling, many hacks are available on the internet. These include bleaching your hair, using special shampoos claiming to erase metabolic traces, or even shaving your head. If a person shaves their head, the professional will sample hair from the body instead. It could be worse, as body hair tends to grow much slower, reflecting on a more extended period of abuse.
Bleaching hair cannot remove drug traces from the scalp, whereas special shampoos may not always ensure a favorable result. Overall, hair follicle tests can be tough to cheat during a drug evaluation.
3. The Accuracy Varies For Different Substances
While hair follicle tests are largely spot-on in predicting drug use, the accuracy may vary depending upon the type of drug. Specific categories of drugs may not show up in tests unless present in high concentrations, thus giving out a false negative.
Also, some believe that the test may not be accurate in analyzing recent drug use compared to long-term usage. While it sounds contradictory, the absence of traceable deposits in the sampled hair follicle could be why recent usage may not reflect accurately.
4. It Does Not Involve Hair Follicle Roots
One common misconception about hair follicle tests that births from the name are that the follicle roots are tested for drug traces. But actually, it is the strand of hair that goes through the test. Hair drug testing utilizes about 120 strands of hair growing about 1.5 inches from the base to determine the substance abuse history between 7 to 90 days.
The substance enters the bloodstream during drug consumption, causing several physical and mental effects while the body simultaneously metabolizes it. The resulting metabolites also circulate in the bloodstream and reach the hair follicles. As blood provides nutrition to the hair follicle, these metabolites deposit in the region and are easy to trace in the strands close to the base. These traces are available indefinitely in the hair until the person shaves or the hair grows out of the follicle. It is unlike any other method, such as urine testing, where excretion will eliminate the metabolites from the body.
5. There Are Many Different Types Of Hair Follicle Tests
An employer could choose from several different types of drug test panels. The choice is contingent upon the substances that require testing. For example, a basic 5-panel drug test helps identify Phencyclidine, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, and Amphetamines. This panel can come with an extension for opiates, including oxymorphone and oxycodone.
Complex panels such as 14 or 17 could include Fentanyl, Methadone, Tramadol, Morpheridine, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, and many more substances. Other panels include EtG alcohol, vaping, and date rape drugs.
Hair follicle drug tests are becoming popular among employers to understand an employee's history of substance abuse. The non-invasive nature, combined with minimal chances of sample manipulations or false results, makes it a reliable test for evaluating an individual's eligibility to work in certain situations.