The hair follicle drug tests are a part of a growing range of test procedures that companies and law enforcement agencies can call upon.  There was a time when testers barely used it and turned to other means for the quick and reliable result.

This all changed in recent years as researchers insisted that hair follicle drug tests are the best possible way to detect long-term drug use. They would highlight the long detection window, the strong source of metabolites and foolproof procedure as reasons to turn to this method. Many believed this to be true, and users would turn to extreme methods of cleansing and detoxing to attempt to beat the test.

The informational website, provides an in-depth review of the latest methods used to beat this “one-unbeatable” drug test, including so-called detox shampoos, the Macujo method, and chemical hair bleaching.

It now seems that hair follicle drug tests in may come under a little more scrutiny thanks to recent research into the process and its true reliability.

So What Exactly Went Wrong And Why Are Researchers Turning Against This Process?

There are two major issues to look at here. The first problem with hair follicle drug tests is the idea that the test may not be quite as reliable an approach as we first thought. This comes from new research into the true correlation between THC ingestion and the metabolite content of hair samples.

The second issue is that of contamination, a subject that cast a large shadow over the reliability of samples and the legitimacy of test results. We will look at the new science, the implications of the hair follicle drug test and what this means for those trying to pass the test.

(Source: Kellie Lipe)

New Research Into The Reliability Of The Hair Sample And Correlation Of Ingestion And Metabolite Numbers

Studies may prove testers wrong after years of insisting that the hair follicle drug test is unbeatable and highly reliable. This doubt comes from a study in Germany by the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Freiburg.

In the simplest terms, the research suggests that there isn’t that strong link between cannabis consumption and chemical deposits in the hair after all. Testers always believed that there was a direct correlation between the intake of cannabis and its THC substances and the levels that would be detectable in the hair follicle. This assumption comes from the idea that the chemicals pass into the bloodstream, and then into the hair follicle.

This basic principle leads the way for testing on hair samples, with the insistence that we can map out habitual drug use, as well as the intensity of drug use, via these long-term detection windows and “foolproof” samples. However, studies into this direct correlation show inconsistencies.

The institute gave daily doses to of either non-psychoactive THCA or psychoactive THC to test subjects over a month-long period and then tested their hair samples. The initial theories would suggest that all subjects would show high levels of the chemicals in their hair in a clear pattern of use. This month-long period should have been enough for a significant trace to enter the hair through the bloodstream.

The researchers found that very few THC metabolites were detectable. The drug surely entered the body and would have been detectable in some manner, so why was it not detectable in the hair?

Many now believe that the hair sample can only really detect conclusive proof of personal use if the subject consumes vast amounts – enough for a high number of metabolites to reach the hair follicle. This, therefore, casts considerable doubt on future tests.

What Are The Implications Of This New Research For The Drug Testing Industry?

This research is significant because it alters the basic principles behind the hair drug test. Therefore, there must be major implications for theories and practices moving forward. This is a major blow for those that champion the hair follicle drug test as a primary means of testing for drug use in the workplace. It casts doubt on the reliability of samples, and on previous cases or dismissal or acquittal.

There is no doubt that the chemicals will enter the bloodstream and could be detectable somewhere, but it appears decreasingly likely that it will enter the hair. This means that workplaces and law enforcement may have to turn back to older methods, like the urine sample or even blood testing.

Urine testing seems like the most reliable and convenient option for spotting these chemicals after suspected use. It has always been preferable to hair samples in random drug testing. Still, the problem of the short detection window remains.

Urine testing

What Are The Implications Of This New Research For All The Test Subjects That Have To Face Hair Tests In The Workplace?

It is not just the testers that will pay close attention to these findings and the impact they have on drug testing. There are many users of cannabis, both legal and illegal, that will appreciate this news.

This research is pretty disruptive to the progress of this drug testing method. This damages the status of the test and cannabis users can now use these claims to discredit results. It is great news for all those that feel they have to turn to the extreme; damaging detox cleanses to strip the hair.

Users believe that these samples are sure to lay out a precise timeline of their drug habits, but this is no longer the case. The idea that only high levels of THC will lead to a positive result means that casual users may have less to worry about.

It may be more likely that they assumed that they could pass a hair test if they only smoke a small amount on the weekends are careful to wash their hair. This regular hair washing is important for the following reasons:

Then there is the further scientific research into the problem of contamination. The other issue here with the legitimacy of hair follicle testing is the risk of external contamination. This is where chemicals and drug signatures are present in the hair sample through other measures.

Hair follicle drug tests 2017 news stories are full of cases where subjects called the legitimacy of the results into question. There is the story of the nurse that tested positive for cocaine use and blamed it on a night of passion with an addict. Some will see this as a convenient excuse to keep her job. Others will see the potential truth in her version of events because of this contamination risk.

How Does Contamination Occur?

Contamination of hair with chemicals and metabolites isn’t too difficult for smokers. In fact, non-users that hang out with cannabis smokers, and consider themselves clean and sober, could potentially fail a hair drug test.

Second-hand smoke lingers, and the residue ends up in the hair, with chemicals on the surface of the strand. Sebum and sweat transferred from skin to hair may also lead to some cross-contamination between users. Then there is contact with the drug in other physical forms, or with drug paraphernalia. This is where we get stories like that of the nurse and the result for cocaine.

Contamination could occur through sweat and sebum contact during sex and chemicals may still be detectable if the hair wasn’t washed properly before the test.

The issue here is not just that there is a range of potential chemical signatures at work here. The problem is that testers and researcher once assured employers and other agencies that the test was foolproof.

There was the sense that this method was ideal because it targeted the chemicals deep in the core. This is where proof of drug use lies. However, it is now clear that residual metabolites and surface chemicals are more abundant.

We cannot tamper with a sample of hair in the way we can a urine sample because of the collection method. This is part of the appeal of the hair test. Still, this doesn’t mean that the sample is perfect.

This research into the risk of contamination of test samples provides validation for test subjects struggling with their results.

This scientific backing is great news for all those that have long insisted that there was too much room for contaminated samples and false positives in the hair follicle drug tests. This also brings up new questions regarding the detoxes and cleanses that many users employ to beat the test. The detox cleanses, and shampoo has a mixed reputation when it comes to these hair follicle tests. There are stories of users passing tests with ease because they used the system and other than fail.

Previously, some drug users were skeptical of these results, as the detox treatment is so blatant and there were so many promises that the system was foolproof. This may change with these recent findings. Perhaps those that succeeded with detox shampoo had so little THC pass into the follicle in the bloodstream and washed off enough residual chemical, that they seemed clean. This could change the way that users cleanse.

The tough, harsh stripping may be out, as there is less need to get to the core. A good shampoo and avoidance of external contaminants may be all that they need.

Major Implications For The Industry And Future Of Hair Follicle Drug Tests?

The news is not so good for all these testers and researchers in the industry that celebrate the hair test is the most foolproof method possible. Testers sell this option to workplaces and other companies as the ideal approach to drug testing. This is because it targets chemicals deep within the follicle and users cannot switch or tamper with the sample in any way. The problem is that researchers seem to have focused on the wrong kind of contamination.

There is still some weight to the idea that strong chemical detoxes won’t affect the chemical composition deep within the hair follicle – the area that testers target – but they still suffer a damaged reputation.

Also, we can now see that there are two flaws in this approach. The majority of chemicals in the hair sample are likely to be on the surface due to environmental and external contamination, not within the core of the strand.

Furthermore, we have seen that these metabolite levels are not as significant as we once thought. Some may go back to this idea that the sample will detect heavy use from long-term users, as they try and support the process. However, this group is also more likely to be subject to contamination if they are in regular, proximity to other users.

The point is that we don’t know if they decided to stop using before a test, but remained around smokers, or continued to use. The simple issue here is that these findings place too many question marks over any test result that comes back from a lab.

Hair Follicle Test

Is This The End For The Hair Follicle Drug Test?

So what does this all mean for the future of hair follicle drug testing? These two new issues from this hair follicle drug test research show that there are flaws in the methodology and theory behind the hair follicle test.

On one side, we have the study that discredits the fundamental idea of contamination of the hair through the bloodstream. The idea that the test can catch out all users with a clear timeline of drug use just isn’t viable. This means that users can fall under the radar as the metabolite count doesn’t show up.

On the other side, we have the continued research into external contamination. The increased presence of metabolites on the surface, compared to the core of the structure, undermines the process of the hair test and the results achieved. It is increasingly difficult to prove that these findings are the direct result of personal, habitual use of cannabis and not contamination.

There was a point where hair follicle drug tests seemed like the best approach for 2018 workplace testing. Companies and testers were under the impression that it was the most conclusive and foolproof approach possible and could replace urine testing, due to its risk of sample tampering and short detection window.

These new viewpoints alter the landscape. Users now have more confidence to try new cleansers if the majority of chemicals can indeed wash away. They also have the right to question all results based on these ideas of contamination and inaccuracy. Developers of new hair follicle drug test 2017 procedures may have to go back to the drawing board.

One thought on “Update on Hair Follicle Drug Tests Effectiveness

  1. Can hair follicle DOT test detect drugs up to 6 months? everywhere I see online it says 90 days but trucking companies always say 6 months is that possible depending on the drug or test?

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