National Drug Screening: Everything You Need To Know About a Hair Follicle Drug Test
By Joe Reilly, National Drug Screening // June 16, 2022
National Drug Screening is located on W. Hibiscus Boulevard in Melbourne
NATIONAL DRUG SCREENING – A hair follicle drug test is one of the newer types of drug testing available and is quickly becoming the preferred drug testing for employers, as well as court-ordered probation testing. Hair testing allows for detection of drugs of abuse; substances like marijuana, cocaine, opiates, barbiturates and many other types of drugs. Hair drug testing with a positive result can determine if a person has ingested drugs in the past 90 days. This detection window can show a pattern of drug use.
In this article we will cover the following topics:
As of the beginning of 2021 hair testing is not allowed for DOT testing or Federal workplace drug testing. Hair testing is very popular with Non-DOT employers. For head hair the individual will need a minimum of 1.5 inches of hair; otherwise the hair specimen can be body hair.
Since hair tests can identify drug use further back in a person’s recent past than a urine test, many employers are now opting for a hair drug testing, particularly for pre-employment screening. It is also becoming more common in the legal industry when court-ordered drug testing may be required, like for probation, or divorce and child custody cases that may have mandatory drug testing.
Urine drug tests can only identify drug use for approximately a week into an individual’s recent past. For that reason, hair drug or hair alcohol EtG tests are better suited to detect binge or chronic drug usage over a more extended period of time.
National Drug Screening provides 5-panel, 7-panel, 9-panel, 12-panel, 14-panel and 17-panel hair follicle testing. All of our drug tests can be purchased online, or by calling us at 866-843-4545 to schedule a test at a location near you. Drug testing centers for hair drug testing are available in all areas of the United Stated. You can also order your hair test online.
Often called a hair follicle test, this is not the correct terminology. Testing a hair follicle would involve plucking hair out of the scalp. This is not what happens. The hair is cut at the base of the scalp. The laboratory tests the drug metabolites that are embedded into the hair. There are not any ways to cheat on the hair drug test. Some folks will shave all the hair off their body. This make it impossible to do the hair test. If a hair drug test is required for employment, the individual who shaved their entire body will not be eligible for the jog.
Hair drug testing is a good test for a date rape test. Hair testing detects drugs about 7 days out and about up to 90 days. Many judges and court systems are now requiring hair drug testing.
Types of Hair Drug Test Panels
There are several types of hair drug test panels available, depending on the substances you want to test for. The most common tests ordered are 5-panel and 12-panel tests; however, you can find comprehensive testing for any and all combinations of drug and alcohol use.
What Are the Different Hair Test Panels?
Below are the hair test panels offered by National Drug Screening and the types of substances they test for:
The 5-panel hair drug test screens for Marijuana, Cocaine, Opiates (Heroin, Morphine and Codeine), Amphetamines (Ecstasy, MDA, MDMA, and Methamphetamines), and PCP (Phencyclidine, also known as angel dust).
Our expanded 5-panel hair follicle drug test includes all of those, plus the additional Opiates: Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone and Hydromorphone.
The 7-panel hair test includes testing for Barbituates, Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Amphetamines (Methamphetamine and Ecstasy), PCP (Phenycyclidine) and Opiates (Codeine, Oxycodine, Oxymorphone, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Morphine and 6-MAM Heroin Metabolite).
The 9-panel drug test screens for Marijuana, Cocaine, Opiates (including Heroin, Morphine, Codeine, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone and Hydromorphone), PCP, Propoxyphene, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, and Barbiturates.
The 12-panel hair test is the most comprehensive drug test we have available. It includes Marijuana, Cocaine, PCP, Amphetamines, Opiates, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Propoxyphene, Methadone, Oxycodone, Tramadol and Meperidine. Specialty hair tests are also available to test for a variety of other drugs.
Our 14-panel hair test includes Cocaine, Marijuana, Propoxyphene, Amphetamines (Methamphetamines and Ecstacy), PCP, Opiates (Codeine, Morphine and 6-MAM Heroin Metabolite, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Hydromorphone) Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, Tramadol, Sufentanil, Fentanyl and Merperidine.
The new 17-panel hair drug test is the most comprehensive drug test panel available in the United State. This test includes Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Benzodiazepenes, Barbiturates, Methadone, Opiates, Synthetic Expanded Opiates, Fentanyl, Tramadol, Buprenorphine, PCP, Propoxyphene, Meperidine, Ketamine and Zolpidem (Ambien).
Additional hair tests available are the Hair Test EtG Alcohol, Date Rape Drug Test and Hair Vaping Panel.
How Does Hair Testing Work?
You place an order by phone or online and you receive a donor pass to go into a local facility for hair to be collected from your head or body. Head hair is preferred.
Once the hair sample is collected, it is sent to one of our many certified labs for professional analysis, and review from a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO).
Negative results for a basic 5-panel hair follicle drug test are usually available within 2 to 3 days. The more complex 9 to 17 panel may take a couple days longer; positive initial test results are sent for further confirmatory GC-MS testing which may take a few extra days.
Can Body Hair Be Tested For Drugs or Alcohol?
If the head hair is not long enough or shaved, then a sample of body hair from the legs, chest, or armpits, and occasionally beards can be used instead. Many people may think that body hair grows slower than head hair, which is why using an inch and a half of body hair for a hair follicle test will provide a longer period of drug use than an inch and a half of head hair.
However, body hair and head hair generally grow at the same pace, but body hair usually stops growing at a shorter length. Once the hair stops growing and becomes dormant, it is pushed out to make room for a new hair to replace it, which is why we appear to shed at times. A positive drug test result doesn’t actually indicate the exact date or dates the drug was used, just that it was ingested in an estimated timeframe within the last 90 days.
Why Is Hair Drug Testing So Effective?
Although it is still fairly new technology, hair testing is very effective as long as it is administered by a properly trained technician. National Drug Screening is a national leader in hair drug testing. Our experience has allowed us to develop the expertise that has helped to make our testing processes as simple and efficient as possible.
All of our tests are analyzed by certified labs like LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics. Hair follicle tests are also always reviewed by a certified MRO (Medical Review Officer) before the results are released. If an initial screening yields non-negative results, then they will undergo additional Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) confirmation testing. This allows individuals that may be legitimately taking prescription medication a chance to provide authorized proof to our doctors. As long as the individual takes the medication in accordance with the prescribed dosage, then the final report will list the result as a “negative”.
Why Choose Hair Testing Over Urine Testing
Hair drug testing has a much longer detection window than urine drug testing plus it is significantly more difficult to cheat on hair drug testing. Hair tests analyze the drugs inside the hair shaft on which external contaminants and chemicals have no effect. Standard hair testing has about a 90 day look back period to detect drugs at about 7 days after ingestion.
Typically, each ½ inch of head hair is going back about 30 days. Most laboratories will only test about 1.5 inches of head hair without a special request and increased cost. Body hair can also be tested. Some labs will only test head hair so it is important to ask about this if you don’t have at least 1.5 inches of head hair. A 1.5 inch sample of about 200 strands of hair (about the size of a #2 pencil) closest to the scalp will give 100mg of hair, the ideal sample for screening and confirmation. In addition, hair can be collected from several head locations and combined to obtain the required amount of hair.
For EtG hair testing and for 12 or more drug panels, additional hair is needed 150 mg is recommended. Hair can be collected from several body locations (excluding pubic areas) and combined to obtain the required amount of hair. For body hair, collect at least 100mg of hair and more if the test is for EtG hair testing and if testing for 12 or more drugs.
We Don’t Actually Test The Hair Follicle’s Root
While the test is often called a hair follicle test, it is not actually the root itself that is tested. It is not actually a hair follicle test. Hair drug testing uses the first inch and a half of growth from the base and roughly 120 strands, to determine any drug use within the past approximately 7 to 90 days.
When a person ingests a drug, it enters into the bloodstream while the body simultaneously metabolizes the drug, causing those metabolites to circulate through the blood as well. Since a person’s blood nourishes their hair follicles, any ingested drugs and their metabolites are deposited into their hair follicle where the evidence of drug use remains indefinitely or until the hair is shaved, once the hair grows out of the follicle.
Using Hair For Workplace Drug Testing
Hair drug testing has also become popular for workplace drug testing for potential hires. Although more expensive than urine drug testing, it may be more effective, long term, to do the more expensive test than to hire a substance abuser. The hair drug test can detect drugs going back approximately 7 to 90 days; this drug test is also difficult to cheat, adulterate or substitute.
With the urine drug test, the applicant or employee might refrain from drug use for five or more days and avoid the detection of illegal drugs in the urine. So in reality, pre-employment drug testing using hair tests would be more effective in preventing the hiring of a substance abuser.
Several large trucking companies are now performing hair testing in addition to the required 5 panel urine lab-based testing. Some of these companies include JB Hunt, C. R. England, Schneider Trucking, Swift Transportation, Shell Oil, and others. These companies cite safety and the large investment required as their motivation for conducting hair drug testing in addition to required DOT urine drug testing.
New reports from Arkansas stated that 3200 drivers applying to drive for JB Hunt were told “no way” because drugs were found in their system when their hair was tested. Since May of 2006, 1700 of these trucking applicants for J.B. Hunt had cocaine in their system. The American Trucking Association (ATA), which lobbies for trucking companies, supports new efforts to allow hair drug testing for truckers as an alternative to urine drug testing.
Other industries that have embraced hair testing include, but are not limited to, the oil and gas industry, the gaming industry, and the auto manufacturing industries. Hair testing typically has approximately a 90 day look back period but can shorter or longer in some cases. Laboratories have increased the menu of panels available for hair testing beyond the typical 5 panel hair test that was previously the only available test for hair.
Expanded opiate testing is now available with hair and some laboratories are offering hair testing for additional drugs panels including Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, Methadone, Propoxyphene, Meperidine, Tramadol, Fentanyl and others.
The Future Of Hair Drug Testing
In the near future, hair drug testing may be allowed in the DOT mandated drug and alcohol testing program. In December of 2015, Congress passed legislation known as ‘‘Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act’’ or the ‘‘FAST Act.’’ With this legislation, hair testing has been authorized in conducting DOT pre-employment testing for use of a controlled substance and DOT random testing for the use of a controlled substance if the operator was subject to hair testing for pre-employment testing.
It is important to note that this is an initial authorization for hair testing but regulations and guidelines still need to be established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Law requires HHS to issue guidelines no later than 1 year from the date of enactment. It will be interesting to see if hair drug testing becomes a reality for the DOT program as early as January of 2017.
One challenge we see with hair drug testing is the training of hair drug specimen collectors. Many times specimens received at the labs are rejected for an insufficient quantity of specimen. We also see different labs quoting different quantities of hair required for hair drug testing so standardization will be very important. Several hair testing laboratories such as Quest Diagnostics, Omega Laboratories, Psychemedics and US Drug Testing Labs offer hair collection instructional brochures or short web-based video training. It is clear that additional training for collectors is needed as too many specimens are still getting rejected.
At National Drug Screening, we work to insure all those conducting collections for our clients are properly trained, but it is clear the industry as a whole needs to work together to improve hair testing specimen collection training. If you would like to learn more about our hair panel drug tests, or how specimen collection works, you can reach us at 866-843-4545.
Can You Cheat a Hair Drug Test?
Hair follicle drug tests are much more difficult to cheat than urine drug tests since a sample taken is done so directly by a trained collector. Obviously, if someone has no body or head hair, then the hair follicle test cannot be performed.
There is also some concern regarding environmental exposure to drugs, such as second hand marijuana smoke, and how it can affect a hair follicle test. The hair follicle drug tests screen for the drug itself and the metabolites your body would produce if you ingested, or smoked, the drug. That means that even if marijuana smoke got stuck in your hair, as long as you did not inhale it, then your hair will have no evidence of marijuana metabolites, so your test will not be positive.
More On The Hair Sample Drug Test
Hair Sample Drug Test
Drug testing is becoming an increasingly important component of safety, security and operations across many industries. For professional and commercial transport, it’s an especially crucial component, as both the safety of passengers and/or cargo are now also a part of the equation. Drug use for drivers, pilots and other vehicle operators can have tremendously negative effects on the road, the rail, or even in the air. In workplaces, drug use doesn’t just affect the individual user, it has a domino effect on work and the co-workers in the environment, affecting relationships and efficiency.
Beyond the ethical implications of drug use in a professional setting, there are, of course, legal considerations. It’s one thing to abuse prescription drugs provided by pharmacies, but when the drugs involved are illegal, such as cocaine or marijuana, this has consequences for both the individual and the company that hired the drug abuser. National Drug Screening offers a wide variety of standardized drug testing procedures for companies that need it, but today we’d like to discuss a relatively recent addition to the arsenal of drug testing that’s been getting impressive results.
The Metabolite Effect
When a drug is consumed it leaves behind trace remnants known as “metabolites” in the blood stream that then become deposited in various portions of our physiology. These metabolites, however, have a lifespan for the period in which they remain detectable to certain testing methods and scientific instruments. The traditional drug test, such as the urine test that has been a commercial and medical standard for many years now, is easy to administer and collect. One urine sample can be collected and subjected to a “panel” drug test, meaning that multiple substances can be screened from one sample for increased efficiency. National Drug Screening, for example, offers a 10 panel test for up to 10 different drugs. Once a sample has been collected and tested at a SAMHSA certified laboratory, the lab data is sent to our staff of medical review officers (MRO) for review and verification of positive or negative results.
One issue with the standard urine test, however, is the duration of metabolites that are deposited in the urine. Alcohol in particular has a very short life, and can lose effectiveness for detection in as little as 90 minutes. Most of the standard narcotic drugs, such as different prescription opioids or illegal drugs such as cocaine and opiates will remain in the urine for less than a week before the metabolites fall out of the range of detection.
Using a hair sample drug test is a very different process. It’s been discovered that metabolites that are deposited in hair follicles have a much longer lifespan. Metabolites remain detectable in a hair sample for up to 90 days from when they were consumed, and it can be an even longer period for certain drugs. Hair testing is becoming increasingly popular. Even in trucking companies where DOT required the standard 5 panel urine test; an additional hair test is required by many trucking companies.
A hair sample drug test is, in some ways even easier to conduct than a standard urine sample test. About 100 milligrams of hair, which is about 100 – 120 strands, at 4 cm or 1.5” in length are needed in order to get strong results in hair analysis. The hair is cut as close to the scalp as possible, so only the strands of hair above the scalp are tested and not the actual hair follicle. If there’s not enough hair on the head to conduct this, then any body hair of appropriate weight (about 100 milligrams, about the size of a cotton ball) will do, so people that are bald or shave their heads can still be analyzed with this test. Another good thing about the test is that it’s very difficult to cheat; short of shaving all body hair off on the day of the test, which is a tacit admission of guilt, even shampoos and other cleaners cannot eliminate metabolites from hair.
The hair sample drug test is an ideal procedure both for regular workplace screening and especially for pre-employment screening. The long duration of metabolite detection makes it extremely unlikely that a regular drug user would hold off 90 days of drug use simply for a job interview, whereas a week of abstinence for a regular urine test may be more achievable.
Often called hair follicle drug test, the hair follicle is not actually tested. The metabolites of the drugs go into the hair follicle and then into the hair strands. The hair strands are cut as close to the scalp as possible for drug testing.
For more information on hair sample drug tests and how they can be incorporated into your company’s workplace practices, please contact us at National Drug Screening. We have a fulltime staff of experienced medical review officers always available to exam hair drug test results with quick notification back to you.
Some Facts About Hair Follicle Drug Testing
Hair follicle drug tests are becoming more popular because of their ability to go deeper into a person’s drug history. They are also more difficult to cheat and this has the legal industry and employers using them more frequently. There are some unknowns when it comes to hair follicle testing, and we are here to clean them up.
Hair follicle testing does not test for different drugs, it only increases the effectiveness of the test. If you choose a 5 panel test, it will still test for marijuana, cocaine, PCP, opiates and amphetamines. As you go up the ladder, the tests become more specific and targeted to other types of substances. Contrary to popular belief, hair tests detect the same type of drugs as your typical 5,7,10 and 12 panel urine tests.
Head Hair vs Body Hair
The standard 90 day hair test requires the subject to provide a sample that is 1.5 inches long. If the subject shaves his/her head prior to the test, a screening facility can perform the test with body hair. The body hair test can go back twice as far as the head test and determine the person’s drug use during that time. If no hair is available, a urine test is the only way to screen that particular person.
Contact National Drug Screening To Order Your Hair Follicle Drug Test
National Drug Screening provides accurate and fast hair follicle drug testing nationawide. Our drug testing compliance experts can help you determine which test is best suited for your purposes while keeping in compliance with your state’s laws and regulations. We provide drug and alcohol screening for employers and individuals throughout the United States. Call us today at 866-843-4545 to discuss your hair follicle drug testing needs and requirements.