Grasping How Hair Drug Testing Works

Many employers are now implementing drug testing programs in their respective businesses. They use a variety of methods, including hair drug testing. This method works by identifying the drug metabolites that enter the scalp’s blood vessels and are filtered by the hair. The metabolites stay in the hair as some sort of a permanent record of person’s drug use, and that’s why hair drug testing came to be one of the more common types of drug testing these days.

So what goes on during a hair drug test? Here’s a glance at the process.

The hair drug testing process

The hair drug testing process is a simple and painless one. A staff member of the drug testing company contracted by an employer to perform hair drug testing in the workplace will gather two to four samples of approximately 200 hair strands each from the crown of a person’s head. The number of hair samples that will be taken will depend on the number of tests required.

Before taking the samples to the laboratory, the paperwork on them will have to be completed, so the employee being tested should make sure that all procedures relating to the chain of custody of the hair sample are followed to the letter.

Testing will begin once the samples reach the laboratory. As previously stated, the test will focus on establishing if drug metabolites, which are the parts of the drug that the body produces after consuming any substance, are present inside the shaft of the hair. The test will also try to establish the level of metabolites found in the hair. Drug use of up to one year can be detected with hair follicle drug testing.

Once the hair drug test is done, a report will then be written up which will be reviewed and validated by the contractor’s toxicology expert. The results will then be sent securely within 3-7 working days upon receipt of the samples. However, it must be noted that it might take longer than that if the samples are being tested for complex drugs.

Issues with hair drug testing

Hair drug testing, while an accurate way of testing for drug use, is not without issues. There are people who question its ability to detect and measure current drug use, for one. As stated above, hair drug testing can detect drug use of up to one year. That means a person who last used cannabis a year ago may still test positive for substance abuse at work today. The metabolites stay in the hair that long, and shampoos cannot take them out. Since most workplace drug tests these days are focused on establishing if an employee is impaired while working, it would seem unfair if a hair drug test declares an employee positive for drugs that he or she had taken a year ago.

Hair drug testing is just one method of drug testing at work that employers can implement for their business. There’s urine drug testing, which is the most common workplace drug test of all. Employers can also choose saliva testing, which is done by performing oral swabs on subjects. Whatever drug testing method you choose, just make sure that it will provide the best fit for your workplace drug testing goals.

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