Hair Follicle Drug Testing

Hair drug testing for the workplace has become much more popular over the last few years. In addition, hair drug testing is being used in court cases, court-ordered drug testing, divorce cases and child custody cases and probation cases. It is difficult to cheat on a hair drug test because it is directly observed and bleaches, shampoos and external contaminants (i.e. marijuana smoke) have no known impact on hair drug test results.

Recently laboratories have expanded the drug panels they offer. Traditionally hair drug testing was limited to a five panel drug test or a five panel drug test with expanded opiates. Now we see hair drug testing with up to 17 drugs of abuse including:

Marijuana, Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Opiates, Fentanyl, Tramadol, Synthetic Expanded Opiates, Fentanyl, Tramadol, Buprenorphine, PCP, Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, Methadone, Meperidine, Propoxyphene, Ketamine, Zolpidem (Ambien)

Scientist testing a liquid in a laboratory

What Results are Included in a 5 Panel Drug Test?

Hair Drug 5 Panel Drug Test – cocaine, marijuana, PCP, opiates and amphetamines, including methamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy or Molly).

Hair Drug 5 Panel Drug Test with Expanded Opiates – cocaine, marijuana, PCP, amphetamines, including methamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy or Molly) and opiates including heroin, codeine, morphine, OxyContin, Percocet, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxymorphone, Oxycodone, OxyContin and Vicodin.

National Drug Screening offers both 5 Panel Drug Tests and 5 Panel Drug Tests with Expanded Opiates for purchase online.

What Results are Included in a 12 Panel Drug Test?

Today, some labs offer additional drug testing panels for hair drug testing such as our Hair 12 Panel Drug Test which includes the following:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • PCP
  • Opiates
  • Expanded Opiates
  • Oxycodone
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine
  • Tramadol

This 12 panel hair drug test is more expensive and not available at all labs. This particular hair test is typically ordered for court cases including child custody and divorce. Many attorneys work with us for hair drug testing for their clients since National Drug Screening has facilities available nationwide if you need a 12 panel hair drug test.

At our specialty laboratory, we can test for other drugs in the hair including Fentanyl, Buprenorphine and EtG alcohol. Suboxone will show up under Buprenorphine in a hair drug test. Buprenorphine is the opioid in Suboxone and at low doses, Buprenorphine produces a sufficient agonist to enable opioid-addicted individuals to discontinue the misuse of opioids without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Purchase a 12 panel hair drug test from National Drug Screening.

Comparison Chart

Hair Drug Tests5 Panel5 Panel +
Expanded Opiates
9 Panel12 PanelSpecialty Testing
– Amphetamines
– Methamphetamine
(heroin, codeine, morphine)
Expanded Opiates
– Hydrocodone
– Hydromorphone
– Oxymorphone
– Oxycodone
Phencyclidine (PCP)
Methaqualone (Quaaludes)
Other Drugs available

EtG Alcohol Hair Testing

EtG alcohol hair testing is commonly requested. The EtG alcohol test with hair has about a 90 day lookback period for any consumption of alcohol. The EtG (Ethyl Glucuronide) hair alcohol Test checks for the presence of the Ethyl (drinking) alcohol metabolite, Ethyl Glucuronide. EtG testing does not measure current impairment or intoxication but does measure any consumption of alcohol. This testing cannot tell how many drinks a person had or when they consumed the alcohol.

EtG testing is common for individuals enrolled in a rehabilitation program, monitoring program, or under court order that does not allow them to consume any alcohol – zero tolerance or abstinence. These individuals must be careful about consuming cough medicine or other food and drink that may contain alcohol. Abstinence of alcohol is often required for DUI programs, child custody cases, child protective agency situations, divorce cases, and as a prerequisite for regaining a driving license.

Purchase an EtG alcohol hair test from National Drug Screening.

Why Choose Hair Testing Over Urine Testing

Hair drug testing has a much longer detection window than urine drug testing plus it is significantly more difficult to cheat on hair drug testing. Hair tests analyze the drugs inside the hair shaft on which external contaminants and chemicals have no effect. Standard hair testing has about a 90 day look back period to detect drugs at about 7 days after ingestion.

Typically, each ½ inch of head hair is going back about 30 days. Most laboratories will only test about 1.5 inches of head hair without a special request and increased cost. Body hair can also be tested. Some labs will only test head hair so it is important to ask about this if you don’t have at least 1.5 inches of head hair. A 1.5 inch sample of about 200 strands of hair (about the size of a #2 pencil) closest to the scalp will give 100mg of hair, the ideal sample for screening and confirmation. In addition, hair can be collected from several head locations and combined to obtain the required amount of hair.

For EtG hair testing and for 12 or more drug panels, additional hair is needed 150 mg is recommended. Hair can be collected from several body locations (excluding pubic areas) and combined to obtain the required amount of hair. For body hair, collect at least 100mg of hair and more if the test is for EtG hair testing and if testing for 12 or more drugs.

Using Hair for Workplace Drug Testing

Hair drug testing has also become popular for workplace drug testing for potential hires. Although more expensive than urine drug testing, it may be more effective, long term, to do the more expensive test than to hire a substance abuser. The hair drug test can detect drugs going back 7 to 90 days; this drug test is also difficult to cheat, adulterate or substitute.

With the urine drug test, the applicant or employee might refrain from drug use for five or more days and avoid the detection of illegal drugs in the urine. So in reality, pre-employment drug testing using hair tests would be more effective in preventing the hiring of a substance abuser.

Several large trucking companies are now performing hair testing in addition to the required 5 panel urine lab-based testing. Some of these companies include JB Hunt, C. R. England, Schneider Trucking, Swift Transportation, Shell Oil, and others. These companies cite safety and the large investment required as their motivation for conducting hair drug testing in addition to required DOT urine drug testing.

New reports from Arkansas stated that 3200 drivers applying to drive for JB Hunt were told “no way” because drugs were found in their system when their hair was tested. Since May of 2006, 1700 of these trucking applicants for J.B. Hunt had cocaine in their system. The American Trucking Association (ATA), which lobbies for trucking companies, supports new efforts to allow hair drug testing for truckers as an alternative to urine drug testing.

smiling man sitting inside commercial truck

Other industries that have embraced hair testing include, but are not limited to, the oil and gas industry, the gaming industry, and the auto manufacturing industries. Hair testing typically has approximately a 90 day look back period but can shorter or longer in some cases. Laboratories have increased the menu of panels available for hair testing beyond the typical 5 panel hair test that was previously the only available test for hair.

Expanded opiate testing is now available with hair and some laboratories are offering hair testing for additional drugs panels including Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates, Methadone, Propoxyphene, Meperidine, Tramadol, Fentanyl and others.

The Future of Hair Drug Testing

In the near future, hair drug testing may be allowed in the DOT mandated drug and alcohol testing program. In December of 2015, Congress passed legislation known as ‘‘Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act’’ or the ‘‘FAST Act.’’ With this legislation, hair testing has been authorized in conducting DOT pre-employment testing for use of a controlled substance and DOT random testing for the use of a controlled substance if the operator was subject to hair testing for pre-employment testing.

It is important to note that this is an initial authorization for hair testing but regulations and guidelines still need to be established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Law requires HHS to issue guidelines no later than 1 year from the date of enactment. It will be interesting to see if hair drug testing becomes a reality for the DOT program as early as January of 2017.

One challenge we see with hair drug testing is the training of hair drug specimen collectors. Many times specimens received at the labs are rejected for an insufficient quantity of specimen. We also see different labs quoting different quantities of hair required for hair drug testing so standardization will be very important. Several hair testing laboratories such as Quest Diagnostics, Omega Laboratories, Psychemedics and US Drug Testing Labs offer hair collection instructional brochures or short web-based video training. It is clear that additional training for collectors is needed as too many specimens are still getting rejected.

At National Drug Screening, we work to insure all those conducting collections for our clients are properly trained, but it is clear the industry as a whole needs to work together to improve hair testing specimen collection training. If you would like to learn more about our hair panel drug tests, or how specimen collection works, you can reach us at 866-843-4545.