(Editor’s note: this guide to the hair follicle drug test borrows heavily from the website, HairFollicleDrugTest.info.)
Workplace Hair Drug Testing Continues to Evolve
Workplace drug testing is evolving. It used to be customary to take a urine test, a drug testing method that is relatively easy to cheat. However, with the recent development of more advanced hair screening methods, it means that it is now much harder to hide a positive result and escape detection.
In this short guide to the hair test, we will look at what the hair drug test involves, the reason for its popularity, and its level of accuracy. Then, it will cover some of the methods related to passing this test and avoiding detection.
What Is The Hair Follicle Drug Test?
The hair follicle test is a method of drug screening that looks at the contamination of a hair follicle. It is an alternative way to the urine and saliva options.
The hair follicles can hold metabolites from different drugs for a long time. The test is the simple act of removing the hair in a clean, reliable sample and testing in lab conditions. This simply can be enough for a clear result.
This method is preferred over urine testing as the most reliable method for drug detection in workplace drug testing.
How Is The Hair Follicle Drug Test Carried Out?
Testers will cut a sample of hair – most commonly head hair – and examine these follicles for signs of drug use. The hair testers remove the hair follicles at a close distance from the scalp, cut them up to release the chemicals, and soak in a solvent.
The sample is later spun in a centrifuge to separate the molecules and highlight any metabolites. These molecules are then examined against several drug panel testing systems to look for some key drugs. If there is a clear reading, testers will see this as a positive result. Companies can receive their issues within a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on where they send the sample.
This method of cutting a section of hair from the head leads to the idea that many desperate drug users will share. Why don’t they shave their heads and get rid of the hair entirely?
Drastic haircuts are a bad idea for two very serious reasons. First, the act of shaving your head will only draw attention to your missing hair. Testers will wonder what led you to take this step so close to the date of the test. Shaving ones head is less of an issue in men with very short hair.
Women will have a difficult job making this work to their advantage. The other problem is that there are still alternative methods for hair collection. Bald men are not exempt from the hair drug screening measures. In this instance, testers will take body hair, perhaps from the armpit.
What Drugs Are Testers Looking For In The Hair Follicle Drug Test?
Hair screening methods are becoming more prevalent in workplace drug testing because of the range of detectable drugs. Some testing options will provide a 5-panel test that looks for the drug with the five broad categories.
They are Cannabinoids, Cocaine, Opiates, Amphetamines, and PCP. The 5-panel test does not mean that there are only five types of drugs that we can locate on a hair sample. Various drugs come under these categories.
Opiates can be anything from strong painkillers to Opium and Heroin. The other categories mean that users on strong pain medication, heroin, heroin withdrawal medication, and other recreational drugs could test positive. Meth may not be considered here, but it classes as a detectable amphetamine.
Is It True That Marijuana Isn’t Detectable In The Hair Follicle Drug Test?
The classification of cannabinoids leads to an interesting question about marijuana. Stories are going around that marijuana is not detectable in hair screening.
The truth is that marijuana is harder to detect in these samples. This is because the metabolites do not always bind to hair follicles as well as other drugs. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t in there.
It is possible to test positive for marijuana and so-called synthetic marijuana, also known as K2 or Spice.
The results of the test can depend on the type of drug taken, the quality of it and the amount. Many users will be aware that Spice and Weed are entirely different things.
Also, there are different strains and types of weed and marijuana with various effects. It all comes down to the chemical involved: THC. This is what testers are looking for, regardless of where it has developed of. This symbolizes that you can even take hashish at a restaurant and bring THC into your system.
How Long Are These Drugs Detectable In A Hair Follicle Drug Test?
Detection times can vary depending on the test. The majority of tests can detect the use of the drugs mentioned above within 90 days.
That is a long time between taking the drug and getting tested. So the idea of abstaining from drugs when you know a test is coming just doesn’t work.
Even if you get a month’s notice, there is still the chance that there are metabolites in your hair follicles. This 90-day window comes from the area of hair tested. Testers take a sample of 1.5 inches from pretty close to the scalp. This area should be clean after 90 days.
The problem comes if tester takes a sample further away from the scalp or take a longer portion. This could raise the detection window significantly.
How Accurate Are These Hair Follicle Drug Test?
Many consider these methods to be highly accurate. This means that users will struggle to fake a result without a good system. The nature of the test means that many types of drugs used while that follicle was growing can are detectable in the lab.
The combination of the detection time and methods used say that these results can be very specific about the drugs that were taken. This is perfect for companies looking for habitual users. It is bad news for employees.
Despite this, there is still the potential for a false positive reading on these tests. Human error and technical error can lead to inaccurate results that may reduce the chance of getting a negative result.
Some say that around 5% of all drugs test lead to false-positive results. This can sometimes come down tot he uses of prescription medications. The pseudoephedrine in over-the-counter sinus and cold medication is a key culprit.
It Is Easy To See Why So Many Testers Are Keen On The Hair Follicle Drug Test.
These tests are popular for many reasons. They are quick, simple and able to detect drug use at an impressive rate. The accuracy of the test and the range of medicines identified mean that this is a great option for workplace testing.
The drug detection window increases the likelihood of finding the chemicals and makes it even more hard for addicts. Companies can be surer of a strong result with this method than urine testing. Some will assume that it is fool-proof because of the way that the metabolites remain within the hair. However, there are some methods to avoid detection.
What Are Some Of The Different Ways To Pass A Hair Follicle Drug Test?
Stop Taking Drugs:
This is one answer that you may hear if you want to make sure that you are completely clean for your hair screening. The problem with this is that you can’t just stop for a few days and expect to get a negative result. The metabolites that are in hair follicles have built up there for a long time.
The only way to be sure of getting rid of them all is to have a new head of hair since the last time you took drugs. This just isn’t an option for many drug users that see no reason why they can’t enjoy a bit of marijuana or another recreational drug on the weekend.
It is also a problem for those in states that deem certain drugs as legal. “Legal” highs and therapeutic drugs also have the potential to show up on these tests.
Tricks To Mask The Chemicals In The Hair:
There are plenty of stories passed around groups of friends and fellow users. One drug taker may claim to have found the perfect home remedy to mask the chemicals in their hair and pass their hair follicle drug test at work.
They could be right, to a degree. The difficulty is that it can be difficult to tell which methods are reliable. Just because there is a correlation between a trick and a negative result doesn’t mean that there is causation.
The other issue here is that testers are smart people. They learn the tricks of the trade and know what to search for. If you have found a Reddit post from 6 months ago, the chances are that testers have seen it too. These methods are rarely worth the risk.
Specialized Detox Shampoos:
There are products available that claim to be able to bypass hair screening processes to clean the hair and provide negative results. They sell the products as an excellent short-term solution for anyone that needs a quick fix for an upcoming test.
The shampoos start by washing away chemical products and dirt on the hair. This shows that you have not been trying to mask the hair in any way. Some people think that they can beat the system by adding harsh shampoo or dye to the hair. This is not guaranteed to work.
Also, many testers can spot the signs. The solution also cleans the follicle and applies a sealant to stop the metabolites from coming out.
You may wonder how they sell these products as being reliable if testers are so quick to spot new tricks. Surely they are wise to the effect of these products?
There are some that claim to update their formulas to provide the best option and remain undetectable. This looks to mean that repeat users may find the product varies and the results are not always quite the same. However, this is the only real option for these companies in the ever-changing world of the hair follicle drug test.
Is It Possible To Use A Different Type Of Sample For The Hair Follicle Drug Test?
The biggest problem for users is the idea of taking a new hair from the head before the metabolites have crossed through. The reasonable question here is whether or not there is a way around this.
There are always stories about people being DNA tested through hairs left behind on pillows or in hairbrushes. This is an appealing option for anyone that doesn’t want a traditional sample taken. This method is fine in some situations, but the results are not always legally binding.
This is because the samples do not conform to the criteria of a reliable sample. This means that drug testing will usually not allow any other approach. There is no guarantee over the age of the hair offered, what has happened to it between removal and the test or the true owner.
This also rules out the old trick of swapping samples with another donor. There is a small turn of this working in urine tests where the sample is not worked straight away.
A hair sample cut from the head is directly handled, and you can not swap with another donor. On a related note, don’t try and fool a hair follicle drug test tested with fake hair or extension. They will see through this with ease and these extensions probably aren’t attached close enough tot he scalp, to begin with.
There Is No Plan To Get Around The Issue Of Giving A Real Hair Follicle Drug Test Sample.
This Means The Only Option Is To Treat The Hair. There are so many tricks and ideas related to beating the hair screening process that just does not work.
You can’t get fake or borrowed hair because of the method of taking the sample. You can’t kill the metabolites with chemicals and dyes because it doesn’t work and testers are on the lookout.
The 90 detection window and the method of the test mean that these specialized cleaning solutions are the best option. If you are desperate for help with an upcoming workplace drug test, this could be your only option.