Drug screening is a common practice employers, schools, and other organizations use to ensure people are not using illegal drugs or misusing prescription medications. It may also be used to detect the presence of performance-enhancing drugs, like steroids, in the case of sports.
There are many types of drug tests based on the biological sample they use and the types of drugs they detect. These include urine, blood, breath, sweat, saliva, and hair follicle drug test. But unlike all other tests, hair drug test provides information on substance abuse over time.
A hair drug test analyzes a small sample of hair to detect the presence of drugs in the system. That’s because a strand of hair serves as a timeline of one’s substance intake history. You might have used marijuana weeks ago, which would be detected through a hair drug test.
The reason is that when you use drugs, the body metabolizes and circulates them in the bloodstream. As blood flows to the hair follicles, drug metabolites are deposited into the growing hair shafts. These drug metabolites remain in the hair as it grows, creating a record of drug use over time.
Hair drug tests can detect drug use up to 90 days before the test, but they can have a detection time of up to 12 months for slower-growing hair. This means that if you have used drugs in the past three months (sometimes more), the drug metabolites will be present in your hair sample.
Hair drug tests are typically used when there is a need for a highly sensitive and accurate method of detecting drug use. Here are some common situations where a hair drug test may be required:
Trying to cheat or manipulate a hair drug test can have serious consequences, including loss of employment, legal and financial penalties, and damage to your reputation. The best way to pass a hair drug test is to abstain from drug use and maintain sobriety. Here are some ways people try to cheat on the test.
The most reliable way to pass a hair drug test is to abstain from drug use altogether. However, if you have used drugs in the past and are concerned about passing a hair drug test, there are a few things you can try:
You can get a hair drug test at different places depending on the purpose. For example, if you need a hair drug test for employment or legal purposes, you may be required to take the test at a designated testing facility chosen by your employer or the legal authorities. These testing facilities may include specialized drug testing centers, clinics, or laboratories.
If you need a hair drug test for personal reasons, such as monitoring your drug use or testing a family member, you can purchase at-home hair drug testing kits from online retailers or some drug stores.
Some medical facilities may also offer hair drug testing as part of their diagnostic services, particularly if drug use is suspected as a possible cause of a medical condition.
Hair drug tests are more expensive than urine, saliva, or blood tests. According to Healthline, drug tests performed in a lab or hospital may cost between $100 and $125, while an at-home hair drug test kit costs between $64.95 and $85. The cost variation is due to various factors, including the type of hair drug test ordered, where the sample is collected, and who’s covering the costs.
Hair drug tests are highly accurate and reliable, with a detection window of up to 90 days. They are considered one of the most reliable drug testing methods, as they can detect drug use that occurred several months ago.
The hair drug test accuracy is attributed to the fact that drug metabolites are incorporated into the hair shaft as it grows and remain there, making it difficult to tamper with or cheat the test. However, false positives can occur if the person being tested has been exposed to drugs passively or if the samples have been mixed up. Generally, hair drug tests are considered very accurate and widely used in drug testing programs.