Hair Follicle Testing

February 25, 2015

Drug Testing Articles, Products


There’s no doubt that drug testing has come a long way over the years. Several methods have been developed and scientifically proven to work up to some degree, depending on the device chosen to be used. To be honest, it all breaks down to the test administrator’s preference on which method is to be used, even though some methods may be easier or more convenient to the person being tested. Just so we are on the same page, the methods currently available are:

  • Blood (most accurate, but requires a needle / syringe to withdraw the sample)
  • Hair (takes between 90 and 120 strands)
  • Nail (each clipping must be at least 2 millimeters to 3 millimeters long)
  • Sweat (a non-occlusive hypoallergenic patch that collects and stores the sample)
  • Saliva (small sample collected by either swap or sputum cup)
  • Urine (requires a minimum of 15mL of specimen but prefers 30mL

Hairconfirm_regular

In this article, I would like to put the spotlight on Hair Follicle Testing, since we now offer that type of examination devices to our customers. A hair drug test is more sensitive when it comes to repetitive drug use. Although, there’s not very much said about that category when discussing drug testing, but it is a fascinating, accurate way of getting the job done when it comes time to test for drugs of abuse. There’s no risk of urine spilling out, no saliva sample that could get contaminated, nor is there any sweat to handle. All in all, there are no bodily fluids involved in this procedure.

The way that we offer this to our customers is with the HairConfirm multi-drug test kits that uses hair follicles that you collect to detect at least 5 of the most popular drugs of abuse up to 90 days prior to the examination. With this simple at-home hair collection procedure, a hair sample can be taken quickly and mailed to a laboratory using the pre-paid shipping envelope (included when you order this product from us). The good news is you won’t need to rush into using this test because there is no expiration date. You can rest assured that hair testing is one of the most accurate and effective ways to identify those who abuse drugs.

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Now we understand there might be a few questions that come to mind when you think about using hair to detect drugs. There have been myths and rumors that gone around over the past few years about different ways you can “cheat” on these types of tests. Truth be known, or in this case not known, on how to cheat your test because you can’t. There’s no magical elixir, food trick, or mysterious way to fool a test that uses Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) to determine if the person tested has used drugs or not. Even if someone was to do a severe chemical washing and bleaching in attempt to remove drugs on the hair, it will not remove the drug completely because the drugs are actually in the hair.

Let me explain it in detail: since hair growth is fed by the bloodstream, the consumption of illicit drugs is revealed by analyzing a small sample of the hair collected. By this testing method, the drug molecules embedded inside the hair shaft will be detected while eliminating external contamination. Samples in which test positive during the initial screening process are confirmed by using Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) and Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS). Afterwards, all the results are reviewed by a Medical Review Officer who then goes back over everything with a “fine tooth comb”, so to speak.

When it comes to actually providing the hair sample, it’s recommended that you collect approximately 90-120 hairs that are at least 1.5 inches in length (each 0.5 inch represents 30 days). The hair sample must be cut as close to the scalp as possible. No need to worry about losing your hair, studies indicated that head hair grows on average of 0.5 inches per month, varying slightly for each person. Head and body hair do not grow at the same rate because body hair grows slower. Body hair can be used for a more distant time frame than head hair, but without an exact time period due to the various growth rates. For those who lack a healthy head of hair, smaller hair follicles from other parts of the body are allowed, but you should never mix the two in a sample.

Most people (either in business, schools, or at home) will be tested for the most common drugs of abuse, which is what this test will check for:

Hair Drug Test Cut-off Levels
Drug Class Screening Cut-off Level Confirmation Cut-off Level
Amphetamines(Amp, mAmp, & MDMA) 500 pg/mg hair 500 pg/mg hair
Cocaine
(COC & Benzoylecgonine)
500 pg/mg hair 500 pg/mg hair
Opiates(Codeine, Morphine, & 6-MAM Heroin Meabolite) 300 pg/mg hair 300 pg/mg hair
Phencyclidine(PCP) 300 pg/mg hair 300 pg/mg hair
Marijuana(Carboxy-THC) 1 pg/mg hair 0.3 pg/mg hair

*This type of testing is designed to show the presence of drug levels which would only be consistent with the ingestion of drugs. All cut-off levels are set to SAMHSA.*

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Hydrocodone

(Vicodin, Lortab / Lorcet)

Oxycodone

(Oxycotin, Percodan / Percocet)

Hydromorphone

(Dilaudid)

**The above drugs are tested in the HairConfirm Business version**

The main concern with urine drug testing is the false positives issue caused by passive drug exposure, such as if someone were to eat a poppy seed, that person could test positive for opiates. This problem is caused by the use of low cut-off levels in order to compensate for the recording of drug usage. Another reason why urine tests cause concern is because the presence of drugs in the body wears off around 72 hours after it has been used. In other words, that’s as far as it can go back. This problem doesn’t happen with hair analysis since its detection window is wider and is not compromised by the use of more effective cut-off levels guarding against passive endogenous drug exposure.

HairConfirm Prescription

Hair is used as a strong sample for evidence since the bloodstream promotes hair growth and contains traces of the drug being used. Therefore it makes it a reliable source for drug testing. In a contrast study with urine drug testing, hair examination has uncovered significantly more drug use. In not one, but two, independent studies performed reveal that hair drug tests uncovered 4 to 8 times as many drug users as urinalysis. Obviously, one reason is due to the longer window of detection for hair compared to urine. Drug users will refrain from drug use for several days when they know a urine test is imminent to avoid showing up positive on a urine test. With a drug test like HairConfirm, it won’t be that easy to evade from.

HairConfirm does not require any personal information, making this product an ideal solution for parents who might need to test their children. Small-sized employers may also want to use HairConfirm Business since it can be used for legal drug abuse cases, although the collector is required to complete the Custody and Control Form when mailing the sample to the laboratory for analysis using the pre-paid envelope provided. Either version will allow you to review you results by registering online using the specimen ID number and pass code provided in the kit. Each test kit includes a collection kit, complete instructions, pre-paid shipping envelope as well as the laboratory analysis fees.

Again, we believe this type of test would be perfect for parents who want to test their child for drugs or if you want to have a background check for the past 3 months (up to 90 days). HairConfirm Business would be a great addition for those who are in charge of enforcing a corporate drug testing policy. For more information about this or any of the other products we sell on our website, please feel free to contact us during our normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8am to 4pm CDT by calling (888) 404-0020 or send us an email to sales@rapiddetect.com anytime.

Know more about Rapid Detect: The Rapid Detect BlogHair Follicle Testing

 

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