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How Does Hair Follicle Drug Test Work? What to Expect & Accuracy

Hair follicle drug test
Written by Guest Author

A hair follicle drug test screens an individual for the illicit use of drugs and overdose (misuse) of prescription medicine. It is an internationally accepted drug test. 

The process of testing involves taking some hair from the scalp with a scissor. The hair sample is then sent to an authorized laboratory to determine whether the person has consumed drugs in the last 90 days. 

Some drugs the hair follicle test can identify:-

  • Cocaine
  • PCP
  • Opioids 
  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana

Apart from the hair follicle drug test, the urine test is also used to determine drug abuse, but it tests positive only if the individual has consumed drugs in the last couple of days. 

Some MNCs and government offices ask their prospective employees to produce their hair follicle drug tests before the joining date. 

Hair follicle drug test

Hair follicle drug test

Understanding the Results of Hair Follicle Drug Test 

Negative Test

A negative hair follicle drug test is served within 24 hours from the day of collection of the hair sample. Generally, an Elisa Kit is widely used for screening individuals for drug intake. 

This drug test identifies whether there are traces of any drug in the person’s hair follicle. 

The negative test indicates that the person has not consumed any drugs in the last 90 days. Sometimes, additional testing is done to confirm the negative test. 

Positive Test

The positive result of the hair follicle drug test is produced in less than 72 hours. This result also highlights the specific drug consumed. 

All non-negative tests undergo the second test known as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. 

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Inconclusive Results

It is quite prevalent, which happens because of improper collection of the hair samples, resulting in its rejection. In such a scenario, the hair follicle test may have to be done again.

The laboratory conducting the test will deliver the results to the organization or the individual undergoing the test. 

The report is shared over the phone call, email, or any online interface.

Because the results are personal health information, you may have to sign the report before handing it to your company. 

How does the Hair Follicle Drug Test Work?

The hair follicle test is done within a hospital setting or at a medical lab, and there are also self-use kits. Before heading to the testing center, you can wash your head, dye it, and style in the way you want.

The hair collector will first remove around 100 to 120 hairs from the crown area. If you have a thin crown, then the collector might take hair from the other spots to avoid leaving an odd-looking bald crown. 

In this case, if you don’t have any hair on your head, then the chest hair or from other areas of the body is collected. The hair taken is wrapped in a foil and secured into an envelope to be sent for overnight testing. 

How Accurate is the Hair Follicle Test?

It depends upon the hair samples’ collection & testing, which adheres to a set of standards for improved accuracy. 

Your test results won’t be affected if you’ve styled or dyed your hair with market-available hair styling products. 

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2017 study revealed a significant difference between the self-reporting of cannabis use and hair follicle drug test results.

There are certain medicines such as Asopioid painkiller those can hamper the results of the drug test. In this case, you’ve to reproduce the documentation of prescription. If you believe your hair follicle test is inaccurate, you may go for a retest. 

Final Takeaway

The hair follicle drug test can identify the use of drugs for up to 90 days. This is because the drug enters your bloodstream and even becomes a part of hair growth. 

Urine tests are also used for determining recent drug consumption. If you’re taking any prescribed medications, speak to the administrator of your drug test about this. Here are a few tips on passing the hair follicle drug test.


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