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A Look At Hair Drug Testing

by Damian Sofsian

Drug testing has become very common in both the workplace and schools within the last twenty years or so. Generally, urine testing is the most common form of drug screening. Many people are creative in their efforts to beat drug tests and have formulated many products to mask the appearance of drugs in the system. Products such as masking chemicals and even synthetic urine are widely available, and even the most severe cases of drug abuse may go undetected. Because of the ever-expanding market of products designed to help a drug user pass a screening, many employers are turning to hair follicle drug testing. Although hair drug testing is significantly more expensive than urine, sweat or saliva testing, many employers consider the benefits to outweigh the costs. Employers are often pleased with the fact that hair follicle drug testing is less intrusive, is generally more sensitive to detecting drugs and can detect them up to twice as far back as other methods, and can show whether or not the employee has ceased to use drugs recently in an attempt to cover up usage. It is also more difficult to mask drugs in the system when using this type of test.

The hair follicle drug test requires taking a sample of the employee's hair; usually just a small snippet of hair is taken and is considered less embarrassing than urine collection. A human resources employee or other official within the company can often perform the hair collection on-site. The sample is then sent to the laboratory for washing and testing. Labs generally wash the hair prior to testing in order to reduce the risk of picking up drug chemicals that may have come from external sources, rather than actually ingesting the substance.

Although most employers still rely on the urine analysis for detecting drugs among employees or prospective employees, others are recognizing the benefits of hair follicle drug testing. Most people are aware of various methods in which to beat the urine test; in some cases even resorting to purchasing urine from a "clean" friend. Hair drug testing is virtually unbeatable by current masking products. Although some products claim to mask the appearance of drugs in hair samples, most are based on false or inaccurate claims. Hair follicle drug testing has been proven to be more effective and less invasive than other alternatives.


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