There are several drug testing methods available today that enable Atlanta employers to ensure a drug-free workplace. The hair follicle drug test is one of the newest, and it’s biggest advantage is that it’s a simple test and can be performed anywhere—even when a private restroom isn’t available.
The hair follicle test process
Drugs enter the bloodstream upon use, which are then metabolized by the body. These metabolites circulate in the blood, which are deposited in the hair follicles, leaving behind certain proof of drug use. A hair follicle test can typically detect drug use for up to 90 days after use, longer in some cases.
The process is simple:
- A collector clips a small amount of hair—about 120 strands, at least 1.5” from the root end—from the head, chest, leg, or armpit.
- The sample is delivered to the lab for an initial immunosorbent assay.
- Upon positive results, the sample will undergo a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry confirmation test.
- If the results still test positive, a Medical Review Officer will contact the subject to find out if he/she is taking legally prescribed medication in accordance with a doctor’s prescription. If they are and can provide documentation, the results are listed as negative.
- Results, positive and negative, are reported to the designated company representative.
What drugs can be detected this way?
A five-panel hair follicle screening will detect:
- amphetamines, methamphetamines
- heroin, codeine, and morphine
More in-depth panels (9-, 12-, or 14-drug) will add:
- benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium)
There’s also a hair follicle test for alcohol.
Drug test comparison
Each drug screening method has its pros and cons.
Hair follicle test
The hair follicle drug screening is simple, accurate, and nearly impossible to cheat, since the hair sample is taken by a technician at the time of the test. The test is particularly effective for identifying repeat, chronic, or binge users.
The downside is that it takes longer to get the results and you can’t tell if drugs were used recently.
Saliva/oral fluids test
This is another noninvasive, conduct-anywhere drug screening method. It’s highly accurate, difficult to cheat, and can detect drug use as recent as 8 hours.
Unfortunately, this type of screening can only detect drug use during a brief time frame; prolonged drug use or use that took place more than 48 hours ago won’t be detected.
Urinalysis drug screening
This is the most common and least expensive drug testing method. Collection is simple and noninvasive. The test will accurately detect up to ten substances, yielding results in 10 minutes. New tests make cheating extremely difficult. Of course, the test requires secure, private restroom facilities. Urinalysis is the only approved method for DOT drug testing.