Hair follicle drug testing
– identifying long-term drug use

While drug and alcohol testing will detect if an employee is unsafe to be in the workplace, if you want to understand a person’s long-term drug use, hair follicle drug testing is the answer.

Hair follicle drug testing examines the presence of drugs and alcohol within the hair shaft.  The major difference between hair follicle testing and traditional drug testing using urine or saliva is that the hair offers a broader detection window. This is due to the longer timeframe substances remain detectable in hair.

While drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates and cannabis are eliminated reasonably quickly from urine and even more quickly for saliva, they leave a lasting trace in hair for months. This extended detection period provides a comprehensive assessment of drug history.

Integrity Sampling offers a comprehensive hair follicle drug testing service.

Why use hair follicle drug testing?

Hair follicle drug testing may be used for several reasons:

  • Employment testing: Employers may require drug testing in many situations, including when screening job applicants, for random detection of drug use by employees or after a workplace accident. Although saliva and urine drug tests are the most common method of detecting drug use in workplaces, hair follicle drug testing may be used by some employers.
  • Forensic and legal testing: Hair samples may be collected during criminal investigations to evaluate for drug use or misuse in drug-facilitated crimes and child protection cases.
  • Medical testing: Although doctors rarely analyse a hair sample to evaluate a person’s health, there are situations in which a hair test can provide doctors with helpful information. For example, hair testing can assist in post-mortem evaluations of long-term drug use or misuse.
  • Drug rehabilitation programs: Hair testing may be used in addiction medicine to detect chronic drug use and misuse, as well as understand periods of abstinence.
Contact Integrity Sampling to find out more about our hair follicle drug testing services.
How does hair follicle drug testing work?

How does hair follicle drug testing work?

Hair follicle drug tests identify drugs or drug metabolites in a sample of hair. A drug metabolite is a substance that is generated in the body as a drug is being broken down and eliminated.

Once a drug is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the body. As the drug is broken down in the body, drugs and drug metabolites enter the core of the hair through the hair follicle, sweat glands and oil glands on the scalp. Drugs and drug metabolites remain in the hair as it grows, which occurs at a rate of about one-half inch each month. Some drug metabolites attach to melanin, the part of a hair follicle that gives hair its colour.

Hair follicle drug testing has a longer window of detection than other types of drug tests. While drug use and misuse may not appear in the hair until 7 to 10 days after drug exposure, once it enters the hair it remains for weeks, months or even years. While testing hair can provide information about patterns of drug exposure, hair follicle drug testing cannot detect current intoxication.

How long drugs remain detectable in hair is called the window of detection. The length of the detection window varies based on several factors, including the amount and frequency of drug use or misuse and the rate at which the drug is metabolised in the body. Some drugs continue to enter new hair growth for months after a person’s last drug exposure.

The window of detection also varies based on the amount of hair tested. Although longer samples of hair can be tested for drug exposure over a longer period of time, a standard sample of hair from the scalp is 3 cm and provides information about approximately 90 days of past drug exposure. A hair sample taken from a different part of the body where hair grows more slowly may have a detection window of up to 12 months.

What does Integrity Sampling’s hair follicle drug testing test for?

Integrity Sampling’s hair follicle drug testing can detect over 60 drugs. These include:

  • Alcohol
  • Opiates and opioids, such as codeine, fentanyl and oxycodone.
  • Stimulants and hypnotics.  For example, cocaine, methamphetamine (ice), MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD.
  • Benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine receptor agonists, such as diazepam and zolpidem.
  • Cannabinoids and synthetic  This includes THC-COOH and AB-Fubinaca.
  • Designer drugs, including synthetic cathinones such as MDPV and mephedrone
  • Other anabolic agents (non-steroidal), such as clenbuterol.
  • Anabolic steroid screen that includes 45 known steroids and their testers.
  • Can also include selective androgen receptor modulators or SARMS, a group of experimental pharmaceutical drugs such as ligandrol.
What does Integrity Sampling’s hair follicle drug testing test for?
Benefits of using Integrity Sampling for hair follicle drug testing

Benefits of using Integrity Sampling for hair follicle drug testing 

  • Quick turnaround time:
    • 5 working days of receipt of the sample for a negative result.
    • Additional 1–3 days required for confirmation of non-negative screening samples.
  • Comprehensive reporting:
    • Drug screening certificate includes details of what drugs are tested for.
    • Positive results are confirmed and include a level.
    • All certificates include estimated dates.
  • Competitive pricing.
  • More than 20 years’ experience in drug and alcohol management and testing.