A hair drug test can be a messy, inconvenient process that might involve taking samples of blood, saliva or urine. Now, a new, convenient and reliable procedure is available in the form of the hair follicle drug test.
The hair follicle is a repository of substances that have been introduced into the body. Any drugs ingested by way of smoking, snorting, swallowing or injection leave traces of the substance in the hair follicle. When a drug is taken, it is metabolized and enters the blood stream. The blood carries the substance to different parts of the body including the hair follicle. When the hair follicle produces the hair strand the substance ingested is also transferred to the strand. Hair grows at an average of half an inch every 30 days, following a structural time line. The lowest level of the strand above the scalp is the oldest, followed by the next oldest at the next level and so forth.
In a hair follicle drug test, about 90 – 120 hair strands are taken from the hair on the head and subjected to chemical analysis. By analyzing a half inch strand, it is possible to determine whether or not a drug was used in the past 30 days. If a longer, one and a half inch strand is analyzed, drug usage over the past 90 days can be detected
The hair follicle drug test offers distinct advantages over other types of drug testing. The main advantage is the convenience it offers to the person being tested because it is non-intrusive. This also makes it more difficult for the person being tested to evade testing for some reason or another. Still another advantage is the difficulty in trying to tamper with the test, as has often happened in the case of drug tests using samples of saliva, urine or blood. Perhaps, the most important of the hair follicle drug test is its accuracy in determining drug use. Test evaluations have shown that the hair follicle drug test produces results that are more accurate than the more-commonly used urine test.
The hair follicle drug test has the capability of detecting usage of various types of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine (such as Ecstasy), morphine, PCP and performance-enhancing drugs. This makes the hair follicle drug test useful not just in law enforcement cases, but also in sports where the use of performance-enhancing drugs has become a widespread issue.
The combination of convenience for the person tested, accuracy of test results and ease of application has made the hair follicle an important item and the hair follicle drug test a valuable tool in the ongoing efforts against drug abuse.