Skip to Content
Loading

Everything You Need To Know About A Hair Follicle Drug Test

woman about to have strands of hair removed for a drug test

A hair follicle drug test is one of the newer types of drug testing available and is quickly becoming the preferred drug testing for employers and court-ordered testing. This type of test allows for detection of substances like marijuana, cocaine, obiates, barbiturates and many other types of drugs. Hair drug testing can determine if a person has ingested drugs in the past 90 days.

Since hair tests can identify drug use further back in a person’s recent past than a urine test, many employers are now opting for a hair drug testing, particularly for pre-employment screening.

Hair drug testing is also becoming more common in the legal industry when court-ordered drug testing may be required, like for probation, or divorce and child custody cases that may have mandatory drug testing.

Urine drug tests can only identify drug use for approximately a week into an individual’s recent past. For that reason, hair drug or hair alcohol EtG tests are better suited to detect binge or chronic drug usage over a more extended period of time.


Types of Hair Drug Test Panels

There are several types of hair drug test panels available, depending on the substances you want to test for. The most common tests ordered are 5-panel and 12-panel tests; however, you can find comprehensive testing for any and all combination of drug and alcohol use.

What Are the Different Hair Test Panels?

Below are the hair test panels offered by National Drug Screening and the types of substances they test for:

5-Panel Hair Test: The 5-panel hair drug test screens for Marijuana, Cocaine, Opiates (Heroin, Morphine and Codeine), Amphetamines (Ecstasy, MDA, MDMA, and Methamphetamines), and PCP (Phencyclidine, also known as angel dust).

5-Panel Hair Test with Expanded Opiates: Our expanded 5-panel hair follicle drug test includes all of those, plus the additional Opiates: Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone and Hydromorphone.

7-Panel Hair Test: The 7-panel hair test includes testing for Barbituates, Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Amphetamines (Methamphetamine and Ecstasy), PCP (Phenycyclidine) and Opiates (Codeine, Oxycodine, Oxymorphone, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Morphine and 6-MAM Heroin Metabolite).

9-Panel Hair Test: The 9-panel drug test screens for Marijuana, Cocaine, Opiates (including Heroin, Morphine, Codeine, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone and Hydromorphone), PCP, Propoxyphene, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, and Barbiturates.

12-Panel Hair Test: The 12-panel hair test is the most comprehensive drug test we have available. It includes Marijuana, Cocaine, PCP, Amphetamines, Opiates, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Propoxyphene, Methadone, Oxycodone, Tramadol and Meperidine. Specialty hair tests are also available to test for a variety of other drugs.

14-Panel Hair Test: Our 14-panel hair test includes Cocaine, Marijuana, Propoxyphene, Amphetamines (Methamphetamines and Ecstacy), PCP, Opiates (Codeine, Morphine and 6-MAM Heroin Metabolite, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Hydromorphone) Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Methadone, Tramadol, Sufentanil, Fentanyl and Merperidine.

17-Panel Hair Test: The new 17-panel hair drug test is the most comprehensive drug test panel available in the United State. This test includes Amphetamines, Methamphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, Benzodiazepenes, Barbiturates, Methadone, Opiates, Synthetic Expanded Opiates, Fentanyl, Tramadol, Buprenorphine, PCP, Propoxyphene, Meperidine, Ketamine and Zolpidem (Ambien).

Once the hair sample is taken, it is sent to one of our many certified labs for professional analysis, and review from a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO).

Negative results for a basic 5-panel hair follicle drug test are usually available within 2 to 3 days. The more complex 9- and 12-panel tests may take a couple days longer; positive initial test results are sent for further confirmatory GC-MS testing which may take a few extra days as well.

Can Body Hair Be Tested For Drugs or Alcohol?

If the head hair is not long enough or shaved, then a sample of body hair from the legs, chest or armpits, and occasionally beards, can be used instead. Many people may think that body hair grows slower than head hair, which is why using an inch and a half of body hair for a hair follicle test will provide a longer period of drug use than an inch and a half of head hair.

However, body hair and head hair generally grow at the same pace, but body hair usually stops growing at a shorter length. Once the hair stops growing and becomes dormant, it is pushed out to make room for a new hair to replace it, which is why we appear to shed at times. A positive drug test result doesn’t actually indicate the exact date or dates the drug was used, just that it was ingested in an estimated timeframe within the last 90 days.

Why Is Hair Drug Testing So Effective?

Although it is still fairly new technology, hair testing is very effective as long as it is administered by a properly trained technician. National Drug Screening is a national leader in hair drug testing. Our experience has allowed us to develop the expertise that has helped to make our testing processes as simple and efficient as possible.

All of our tests are analyzed by certified labs like LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics. Hair follicle tests are also always reviewed by a certified MRO (Medical Review Officer) before the results are released. If an initial screening yields non-negative results, then they will undergo additional Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) confirmation testing. This allows individuals that may be legitimately taking prescription medication a chance to provide authorized proof to our doctors. As long as the individual takes the medication in accordance with the prescribed dosage, then the final report will list the result as a “negative”.

We Don't Actually Test The Hair Follicle's Root

While the test is called a hair follicle test, it is not actually the root itself that is tested. Hair drug testing uses the first inch and a half of growth from the base and roughly 120 strands, to determine any drug use within the past 5 to 90 days.

When a person ingests a drug, it enters into the bloodstream while the body simultaneously metabolizes the drug, causing those metabolites to circulate through the blood as well. Since a person’s blood nourishes their hair follicles, any ingested drugs and their metabolites are deposited into their hair follicle where the evidence of drug use remains indefinitely or until the hair is shaved, once the hair grows out of the follicle.

Can You Cheat a Hair Drug Test?

Hair follicle drug tests are much more difficult to cheat than urine drug tests since a sample taken is done so directly by a trained collector. Obviously, if someone has no body or head hair, then the hair follicle test cannot be performed.

There is also some concern regarding environmental exposure to drugs, such as second hand marijuana smoke, and how it can affect a hair follicle test. The hair follicle drug tests screen for the drug itself and the metabolites your body would produce if you ingested, or smoked, the drug. That means that even if marijuana smoke got stuck in your hair, as long as you did not inhale it, then your hair will have no evidence of marijuana metabolites, so your test will not be positive.

Contact National Drug Screening To Order Your Hair Follicle Drug Test

National Drug Screening provides accurate and fast hair follicle drug testing nationawide. Our drug testing compliance experts can help you determine which test is best suited for your purposes while keeping in compliance with your state’s laws and regulations. We provide drug and alcohol screening for employers and individuals throughout the United States. Call us today at 866-843-4545 to discuss your hair follicle drug testing needs and requirements.

Order A Hair Drug Test Now