Hair Drug Testing FAQs

Drug Testing
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Hair Drug Testing FAQs

Hair drug testing is a reliable, accurate and robust method for covering large historical chronological insight into drug or alcohol consumption. At DNA Legal, our hair strand testing offerings are a popular and well-established option for legal practitioners and professionals specialising in the area of family law and care proceedings, in addition to the courts, employers and rehabilitation services. Whilst hair strand testing has a long-established history and application to multiple sectors, common misconceptions about how this works and its veracity do still exist. 

In this article, we will address some of the most frequently asked questions about hair drug testing, providing the information you need to make an informed decision. Whether you are a legal professional considering implementing hair drug testing for your client or an individual who wants to understand the process, this article has the answers you are looking for.

What is hair drug testing?

Hair drug testing is a method of detecting drug use by analysing a sample of a person's hair. The hair is analysed for the presence of drugs and their metabolites, which are substances produced by the body as it breaks down the drugs. Hair drug testing can provide a detailed history of drug use over a period of several months, making it a popular choice for legal services, employers, courts, and rehabilitation facilities.

How does hair drug testing work?

During hair drug testing, a small sample of hair is taken from the head or body, usually about the size of a standard pencil width. The sample is then sent to a laboratory where it is analysed for the presence of drugs. The results of the test, which are provided in just a couple of days, can provide valuable information about a person's drug use history and help guide decisions around Children or family related matters.

How long does it take for drugs to show up in hair?

The time it takes for drugs to show up in hair depends on several factors, including the type of drug, the frequency and amount of drug use, and the individual's metabolism. On average, it takes about 5-7 days for drugs to be incorporated into the hair shaft after use. However, the detection window for hair drug testing is much longer than other forms of drug testing, such as urine or blood tests.

How long is a hair drug test effective?

Typically, hair drug tests can detect drug use for up to 3-6 months depending on the length of hair. This makes it a great option for employers, courts, and rehabilitation facilities that need to monitor drug use over a longer period of time. It's important to keep in mind that each person is unique and the length of time drugs can be detected in their hair may vary. If a person has not cut their hair and their consumption is deemed considerable, a hair strand test could reveal drug usage for up to 12 months.

Can hair drug tests detect all drugs?

Yes, hair drug tests are able to detect all drugs but depend on the specific drugs requested at point of testing. Hair drug tests are designed to detect specific drugs, such as cocaine, cannabis, methamphetamine, and opioids, among others. The specific drugs that are tested for can vary depending on the test and the purpose of the test. The tests can also be used to detect prescription drugs and alcohol.

If you have concerns about the specific drugs a hair drug test will detect, it's best to check with your DNA Legal Account Manager directly. They can provide you with a list of the drugs included in the test and answer any additional questions you may have. Call today on 0203 424 3470.

Can hair drug tests be cheated or manipulated?

In theory, hair drug tests can be attempted to be cheated or manipulated, but it's not easy to do so effectively. Hair drug testing is considered tamper-resistant, which means that it is difficult to manipulate the results of the test. 

Some methods of attempting to cheat a hair drug test include shaving all body hair, using a detox shampoo, or bleaching or dyeing the hair. However, these methods are not effective and result in detection of the tampering efforts (which can have negative repercussions, especially in legal cases).

Can certain hair treatments affect hair drug test results?

Yes, certain hair treatments can affect the results of a hair drug test. Hair treatments, such as hair dye, bleach, or chemical relaxers, can change the structure of the hair shaft and potentially interfere with the drug testing results. Additionally, some hair treatments contain chemicals that could potentially cause false-positive results. We should make it clear that attempting to tamper with results could draw a negative inference from the requesting authorities or court.

It's recommended to avoid hair treatments for at least 72 hours prior to the hair drug test. If you have undergone any hair treatments and are concerned about their impact on the test results, it's best to consult with the laboratory that will be conducting the test. They may have specific guidelines or procedures in place to minimize the potential impact of hair treatments on the test results.

Is hair drug testing more accurate than other forms of drug testing?

Hair drug testing is considered to be a reliable form of drug testing, although the reliability of any drug test can depend on several factors, including the accuracy of the testing method and the expertise of the laboratory conducting the test. 

Hair drug testing has several advantages over other types of drug testing, such as urine or blood tests. One of the main benefits of hair drug testing is its longer detection window. Hair drug tests typically detect drug use for up to 3-6months (though in some cases around 12 months), whereas urine or blood tests only provide information about drug use in the days leading up to the test. Hair drug tests also have a lower rate of false-negative results compared to other types of drug testing, making it a more accurate method of detecting drug use.

Are there any privacy or ethical concerns with hair drug testing?

Hair drug testing is a personal and intimate procedure that can reveal sensitive information about an individual's drug use.

One privacy concern with hair drug testing is the potential for the test results to be disclosed to third parties without the individual's consent. It's important to consider the privacy policies of the laboratory conducting the test and to understand how your personal information and test results will be handled, any test conducted with DNA Legal is conducted in alignment with our ISO 27001 information security accreditations, meaning your data will always be kept safe.

At DNA Legal We do not share the results of your test with any party that has not been authorised to receive the results

Conclusion: Choose Your Laboratory Well

Hair drug testing is a reliable and accurate form of drug testing with a long detection window, but it's important to consider:

  • The privacy and ethical implications
  • How hair treatments can affect results
  • False-positive results and steps in place to mitigate the risk

Choose a reputable laboratory and understand its privacy policies and testing procedures to ensure accuracy and protect your rights.

Get in touch with DNA Legal today.

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