Most employers would consider implementing pre-employment drug testing to ensure that job applicants will be able to work the way they are expected to, and to refuse applicants who are found to be using illicit drugs. In the midst of conducting drug tests across several industries, there are a lot of misconceptions and false truths that destroy the integrity of drug testing. In this article, we will shed light into some of the most common hair follicle drug testing myths.
The Push For Drug Testing
Despite debates on implementing workplace drug policies, companies continue to push for drug testing in the workplace to ensure high productivity and overall workforce safety. In fact, industries involved with transportation, aviation and mining consider drug testing as a primary requirement.
At its most fundamental core, drug testing is done to maintain a healthy and safe workplace. It does not only provide a safe place for employees, but it can also save the company from loss of revenue due to low productivity and high insurance claims.
Urine Drug Test: The Most Common Method
The most common type of drug testing done is urine drug test, mainly because it is less expensive. This kind of test has become so common that many individuals try to look for ways to cheat the drug test. The good thing about this is that drug testing companies are now more vigilant when it comes to drug test cheating attempts or sample adulteration.
Because of the possibility that a urine drug test can be contaminated and may end up producing a false result, some employers require additional drug testing with the use of the hair drug test.
What is a Hair Drug Test?
Hair drug test is a type of test that analyzes hair samples to identify the presence of drugs and their metabolites. For testing purposes, at least 1.5 inches of hair sample close to the scalp is taken from an individual’s body and is sent to a drug screening laboratory for screening.
Hair drug testing is considered to be more accurate compared to urine drug test, because the detection period can last up to 90 days. In comparison, an individual may stop using drugs for 1-2 days and would come out clean after a urine drug test.
How Does a Hair Drug Test Detect Presence of Drugs in the Body?
As soon as a substance is ingested (orally, snorted, smoked or injected), metabolites are produced by the drug and processed by the body. These drug metabolites circulate in the blood stream, nourish the hair follicle, and then become deeply seated into each strand.
Hair Follicle Drug Testing Myths and Truths
A lot of drug testing myths on hair samples have been circulating online, and the wrong information may mislead people. Here are some of the most common hair follicle drug testing myths, and the truth behind each one:
Myth #1: Hair drug testing can detect the presence of all drugs.
One of the most popular drug testing myths is that hair drug test can detect all types of drugs. The only difference with other drug testing methods is the cost and method of sample extraction.
A standard hair drug test has the ability to detect the presence of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, opiates, PCP, and some prescription drugs. Meanwhile, a few special products like HairConfirm 12 Panel can also detect ecstasy, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and hydromorphone.
Despite this, hair drug testing – much like any other drug testing method – cannot cover every single substance in the market these days. This is due to the continuing development of illegal drug labs to come up with unique kinds of designer drugs and synthetic substances.
Myth #2: Hair drug testing is not accurate.
Some people would say that hair drug test could not possible provide valid results because there are factors that can affect the result of an individual’s test such as frequent exposure to secondhand smoke from other substance abusers.
Hair follicle drug testing is impossible to cheat because any drug taken by an individual is more likely to remain in the hair follicles for 90 days. Besides, positive results are crosschecked through a confirmatory test.
Myth #3: Individuals who don’t cut their hair for a year but have stopped taking any drug would still be tested positive.
Some people believe that the presence of drugs on the hair remains even beyond the 90-day detection period. As a result, it may be hard to prove that the individual has really stopped taking drugs.
Human hair grows an average of half an inch every month. Drug metabolites in hair follicles may still be found on the end of each strand, assuming that the hair has not been cut.
However, the standard procedure for the test is to take 1.5 inches of hair sample near the scalp, while the rest of the strand is discarded. Therefore, if the individual has long stopped taking drugs, the new growth of hair would no longer show any presence of drugs.
Myth #4: Individuals with shaved heads cannot undergo hair follicle drug testing.
A lot of people believe that hair samples to be used for drug testing should only come from the head. Therefore, people who are either bald or have their heads shaved cannot undergo a hair drug testing.
This is one of the most common drug testing myths, but it’s easy to disprove. Even if the individual is bald, hair samples from his legs, arms, or armpits can be used for hair drug testing. Only individuals who don’t have any hair at all – say, someone diagnosed with alopecia universalis – could pass up this kind of drug test.
Myth #5: Hair follicle drug testing is required before and during the course of employment.
Part of the anti-drug campaign in any workplace is a need to submit to a drug test, which includes urine drug test and hair follicle drug test.
Pre-employment drug tests laws vary from each state. In California, for example, employers may request drug screening on current employees whom the company may observe to have inconsistencies in terms of job performance. This may also be required for people involved in accidents or injuries in the workplace.
However, workplace drug testing is not conducted without considering other factors. If an employer decides to implement pre-employment drug testing, the procedure should be applicable to all applicants and not to specific individuals.
Myth #6: You may wash your hair with a special shampoo to wash away traces of any drugs.
Some drug users vouch on the idea that traces of drugs may be easily washed off the hair by using a special type of shampoo. After using the hair product, recent drug use will not be detected. In addition, bleaching is also said to help mask out the presence of drugs.
While it is true that any drug adhering to the surface of hair strands can be washed off, drug metabolites that penetrate deep into the core of each strand will be impossible to remove. Hair follicle drug tests determine the presence of drug compounds inside each hair strand, and do not test the surface of the each strand.
What are the advantages of hair follicle drug test?
Although this method of drug testing is more expensive than urine drug tests, people should consider recommending this type of drug test over other tests because of the following benefits:
The presence of drugs can be detected by hair drug tests up to 90 days from last substance use. It is recommended to use 1.5 inches of hair sample cut close to the scalp, in order to easily detect current drug use.
Difficulty in cheating
Unlike using urine drug test wherein drug users may be able to temporarily stop taking drugs in 1-2 days to produce a false negative result, hair drug testing is much more difficult to cheat.
Hair drug tests cannot be cheated by using bleaching solutions or shampoos. This kind of drug screening method checks the core of the hair strand where drug metabolites could possibly adhere for a longer period of time. In comparison, urine drug tests may be tampered by making use of masking agents to cheat on the test.
Negative results are released within 24 hours. Any positive result undergoes confirmatory in which the results are released within an additional 24-72 hours.
Simplified collection process
It is a convenient and non-invasive method of drug testing, and can be conducted anytime and anywhere.
Less risk of sample spoilage or adulteration
Hair samples are easier to transport without worries of being contaminated due to factors such as temperature and mishandling.
Eligible in court
Hair testing can be used as evidence in court proceedings. All hair follicle drug tests include a comprehensive report.
The Importance of Disproving Drug Testing Myths
More people are starting to understand the real importance of drug testing, but some individuals are still hesitant due to possible infringement of privacy. This – along with other drug testing myths – has led some people to be skeptical about the need for drug tests.
However, if the drug testing procedure is carefully discussed, people will realize that it is not going to be used as a means for discrimination. Rather, drug testing is a way of keeping the community safe.
Drug testing is performed for pre-employment purposes, for confirmation of suspected drug use by current employees, for return-to-duty requirements, and for follow-up after rehabilitation. Imagine how much safe and secure the workplace can become, if the company decides to embark on a drug testing program.
Companies are required to provide an Employment Assistance Program to help employees who have been found to be positive. The program refers the individuals to rehabilitation centers in order to help them completely stay away from illicit drug use.
Hair Drug Testing Kits
Hair follicle drug testing is a trusted method of drug testing. Fortunately, there are a lot of drug testing kits available to choose from in the market. However, not all drug test kits are made by legitimate manufacturers. It is advisable to purchase hair drug testing kits from reputable companies with years of expertise and experience to back up their product line.
HairConfirm is an ideal testing solution for individuals who want fast and accurate results. This drug testing kit is convenient to use and cheat-proof. Results are available in 24-48 hours, and may be viewed securely online.
Here are some of the reasons why HairConfirm can bust any drug testing myths:
- Personal information is not required, which makes the test totally anonymous. It makes use of a unique specimen number and pass code for proper identification.
- The testing facility makes use of the latest drug screening technology.
- It is easy to use and convenient. It comes with instructions on how to take the hair sample. Mailing is easier as it comes with a pre-paid package.
- The testing laboratory provides a comprehensive report on a positive result test.