Are drugs consistent with declared usage?

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Hair strand testing is uniquely positioned to provide valuable insight and precise identification for patterns of substance use across a wide-range of legal and medical purposes. methods of analysis, such as analysing individual segments of hair allow for historic pattern analysis but can have their limitations. They can provide insight into a person's drug use over the course of a single month, but they don't necessarily give a full picture of patterns of consumption, or help us understand when cessation of consumption occurred.

That's where consistency with declared usage comes in. By comparing the results of a drug test to what a person has reported about their own substance use, we can gain a more complete understanding of their consumption habits. In conjunction with  scientific evidence to support or contradict a person's self-reported usage we can also make more accurate and reliable conclusions about their drug use.

Keep reading to discover how advances in analysis, reporting terminologies and developing technology are helping us to better understand patterns of drug use and identify cessation of consumption. Whether you're a medical professional or a legal expert, understanding the latest developments in drug testing can help you make more informed decisions and better serve your clients and donors.

Before we begin, these are some key points that you need to know:

- Courts or regulatory bodies  can order an investigation into whether drug or alcohol test results are consistent with declared usage (submitted and signed by the testee)

- The analysis typically aims to see whether usage is aligned with the donor's declared or accepted usage. The reported findings and conclusions on usage in the report will follow the below categorisations:

  • Occasional is defined as approximately once every 1-2 weeks
  • Repeated is defined as approximately  2-3 times per 1-2 weeks

- Test results will be able to declare whether consumption is low, medium, or high, with DNA legal’s data based on over 1 million unique tests

  • Low is the bottom 25% of positive result values
  • Medium is the middle 50% of positive result values
  • High is the top 25% of positive result values

- Drug testing results can indicate consistency with the declaration, but it’s not always certain or possible.

Consistency with Declared Usage

Conducting drug testing involves several prerequisites to ensure accurate and reliable results. One important aspect is segmentation, which allows for the identification of patterns of drug use over an approximated historic period. However, it is also crucial to consider the declaration of drug use at the time of sample collection. This information is vital in order to accurately interpret the results of the analysis and confirm consistency.

Please note that it's important to consider any medications that may be being taken by the individual at the time of sampling, as these can affect the results of the analysis (we’ll cover this in the following section) or cause false-positives in some instances.

Despite the advantages of segmentation, it may not always be possible to obtain accurate results. Variations in the rate at which drugs are incorporated into hair and UV light exposure can affect the presence of drug metabolites. Without declarations of drug use, it may not be possible to report on patterns of drug use in this way.

For courts and legal cases, the intention is to understand if the participant’s/donor's results are consistent with declared usage to allow for a point of truth in proceedings. DNA legal includes and advocates the option for a declaration whenever a drug test is performed, in order to support legal procedures and allow the most benefit to the parties.

Consistency with Therapeutic or Prescribed Usage

To conduct accurate and reliable drug testing, our forensic toxicology experts here at DNA legal have to consider several prerequisites. To fully understand and interpret the results of the analysis, it is vital to document the declaration of prescribed dosage and frequency at the time of sample collection to later see if it’s consistent with the results obtained. This information is necessary to consider any medication that may be taken by the individual at the time of sample collection and may affect the results of the analysis. It can also be used to understand if the person is adhering to the prescribed dosage and frequency, as the consistency with therapeutic or prescribed usage is equally important when compared to recreational/illicit drugs.

Also crucial to consider is that despite the advantages of segmentation, it may not always be possible to obtain accurate results. Variations in the rate of incorporation of drugs into hair, as well as everyday wear and damage, UV light exposure,and washout can all impact on the detected levels of drugs and metabolites,. Without documentation of the declaration of prescribed dosage and frequency, it may not be possible to report on patterns of drug use in this way, which presents a considerable limitation in confirming whether results are consistent with the accepted usage.

Verdict: DNA Legal offer Extensive Experience & Support

It should be reassuring to know that DNA Legal is well-positioned with extensive experience in this area. The company has a team of experts who have reported on thousands of cases and have factored in all the necessary considerations such as environmental factors, dosage, hair treatments and declarations of consumption to provide a wide picture and robust forensic evidence to support clients' position statements or present inconsistencies. This combined knowledge and expertise makes DNA Legal an industry-leading forensic toxicology provider in the Family Law arena, with subject-matter experts on hand to help support with your court instructions and provide reports and analysis delivered on the balance of probabilities and aligned with clients declarations for consistency or inconsistency with their declared usage wherever possible.

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