During the last 20 years, both schools and employers have regularly implemented drug testing. Urine tests are usually the most common form of screening; however, many people have devised methods to beat these tests and created products used to make the appearance of the drugs. Synthetic urine and masking chemicals are widely available, and they can be effective in blocking even the most severe cases of drug abuse. Because of this growing market, many employers have chosen to use hair follicle drug testing instead.
Hair drug testing costs much more than sweat, saliva or urine tests. However, the benefits often far outweigh the costs. Employers find hair follicle drug testing to be less invasive and it can often detect drugs as much as twice as far back as other testing methods. Hair follicle testing can also reveal if an employee has recently stopped using drugs in order to hide their usage. Another advantage is the fact that it’s usually harder to mask drugs in the system with this form of testing.
The hair follicle drug test requires taking a small sample of the employee’s hair. An official within the company can often collect the hair on-site which is less embarrassing than the collection of urine. The sample is sent to the lab where it is first washed before being tested. This is done to minimize the chance of drug chemicals that may have originated from external sources affecting the test.
Urine testing is still commonly used by employers to screen existing or prospective employees for drug use. However, many are beginning to turn to hair follicle drug testing. Although many people use different methods such as purchasing urine from a “clean” individual to beat a urine test, they are unable to beat the current masking procedures currently used in hair drug testing. Some products claim to be able to mask drugs in hair samples, but these are usually inaccurate or completely false claims. Hair follicle drug testing is a less invasive and more effective method than other choices.
Understanding Your Hair Drug Test Results
A negative result can be determined within 24 hours of hair removal. A test called ELISA is used as a screening test. This test determines if the hair sample is negative for drug use. A negative result indicates that you haven’t engaged in illicit drug use over the past 90 days. Additional testing is required to confirm a positive result.
A positive drug test is confirmed after 72 hours. All non-negative tests undergo a second test, called gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). It confirms a positive test result. This test also identifies the specific drugs used.
An inconclusive result isn’t common when testing procedures are followed. In some cases, improper collection of the hair specimen may result in the test being rejected completely. In this case, the test may be repeated.
The laboratory responsible for testing will deliver the results to the individual or organization requesting the test. They’ll use confidential means, like a secure fax, a phone call, or an online interface to share test results. Because lab results are confidential health information, you’ll need to sign a release before the results are passed on to your workplace.