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At Home Hair Follicle Test: What It Is, How It Works, & the Benefits

15 March, 2024

A person placing hair samples in a tube

Despite the consequences, many people abuse illegal substances. These include prescription drugs when individuals misuse them. Thus, health professionals may require them to undergo medical testing for drugs. For convenience, they can utilise an at-home hair follicle test. It is a non-invasive way to detect drug use. Hair drug tests at home necessitate a small hair sample collection. Then, donors send them to a laboratory for testing. Using hair drug testing kits is beneficial because it offers privacy and accessibility.

People can choose from various types of drug test kits. Some examples are oral fluid and urine test kits. However, many prefer hair follicle drug tests to these. The reason is that it has an extended window of detection. Hence, it can detect substances up to 90 days prior, making it more reliable for identifying long-term drug use patterns. The article will present more information about what home hair drug testing is, how it works, and its benefits.

What is an At-Home Hair Follicle Test?

An at-home hair follicle test is a convenient and discreet method for drug testing. It involves collecting a small sample of hair from an individual. However, hair sample testing is done in a laboratory. Hair follicles retain traces of drugs longer than saliva or urine testing. Thus, this makes it a more accurate method of detecting drug use over an extended period.

People can buy a hair follicle drug test kit from their local pharmacy or online. The kit typically includes detailed instructions on the collection process and send-off procedure. Moreover, it has the necessary tools, such as gloves, a collection bag, and a prepaid envelope to deliver the biological specimens to the laboratory. The cost can vary depending on the brand and level of accuracy desired.

At-home hair drug tests are often used in various settings. These include healthcare, workplaces, legal proceedings, and personal situations. In particular, they are beneficial in scenarios where privacy is essential or frequent testing is required. With the convenience of at-home hair testing, individuals and organisations can gain valuable insights into drug use patterns and make informed choices.

Advantages of Hair Testing

  • Non-invasive: Hair follicle drug tests require only small samples of hair. Therefore, it is easily accessible and less intimidating for individuals undergoing testing.
  • Longer detection window: Testing can determine the history of drug use in hair drug test samples because drugs and their metabolites are trapped in the hair shaft for long periods.
  • Comprehensive results: Hair testing comprehensively analyses illicit substance histories. Hence, it informs about long-term usage patterns.
  • Difficult to tamper with: People can easily tamper or substitute urine samples. Meanwhile, manipulating hair samples is challenging. Shaving the head or using detoxification products will not affect the presence of drugs in the hair.

A person holding a pack of drugs while being surrounded by more drug packs

How Does an At-Home Hair Follicle Test Work?

At-home hair follicle tests have become increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional drug tests. They can accurately detect drug use by analysing hair specimens. The process begins by collecting a hair sample from the individual, usually by cutting a small section from the back of the head. Then, they must ship the collection kit to a laboratory for testing.

Laboratory testing uses advanced technology to detect trace substances in the hair follicle. First, health professionals wash the hair to remove contaminants. Then, the extraction process occurs by removing the remaining substances not bonded to the hair shaft. Finally, the hair specimens undergo a series of tests to identify the presence of specific drugs or their metabolites. Some examples are enzyme immunoassays or mass spectrometry.

Technicians compared the results to established cutoff levels to determine whether the person has tested positive or negative for drug use. Afterwards, they release the outcome within a few days. The result can provide valuable information about past drug use, including the types and quantities of legal and illicit drugs.

Detectable Substances

An at-home hair collection kit for drugs can detect various drug classes or substances. These include illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Also, the misuse of prescription medication, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, is identifiable by testing human hair samples.

Other substances a hair test can determine are alcohol and nicotine. The test offers a reliable and convenient method for assessing drug use patterns and determining if an individual has been exposed to certain substances. Nevertheless, the detection window for different drugs can vary depending on the length of the hair sample people collect.

A professional looking at hair samples on a dish for testing

Benefits of Using an At-Home Hair Follicle Test

The benefits of using an at-home hair follicle test are numerous. Firstly, it offers privacy and convenience. People can easily collect hair samples in their homes. Thus, this eliminates the need to visit a clinic for the collection procedure. Consequently, the hair follicle drug test kit saves time. Individuals can also avoid the embarrassment or judgment of travelling to a public testing facility.

Secondly, hair follicle tests have a longer detection window than other methods. Unlike blood, saliva, or urine drug tests, hair testing can identify substance usage for up to 90 days. This makes it a highly effective method for detecting long-term or chronic drug intake. Hence, it provides a comprehensive and accurate overview of the drug history of testees.

Lastly, hair follicle tests are user-friendly, non-invasive, and relatively painless. People do not need medical supervision or special training to collect hair specimens. Additionally, the test does not involve needle insertion. Therefore, it eliminates physical discomfort or anxiety that may arise from other testing procedures requiring intrusive sample collection or laboratory methods.

Limitations of At-Home Hair Testing

Despite the accessibility of at-home hair testing, individuals should consider several limitations. One of these is accurate results. Accuracy can be an issue due to the possibility of improper sample collection. Without professional guidance, individuals may not correctly cut the required amount of hair or ensure the hair is clean and free from external substances.

Moreover, there is a mishandling risk during the shipment of hair specimens. Subsequently, this can compromise the integrity of the sample. The reason is that people may not follow proper packaging and shipping instructions. Then, it leads to potential contamination or damage during transit, resulting in false-positive or negative outcomes.

Conclusion

At-home hair follicle tests offer a convenient and reliable method for individuals to assess their drug usage privately. The drug testing kit includes the necessary tools to conduct the collection process correctly. Hair tests involve collecting a small hair sample, typically from the head. Then, testees send the specimens to a laboratory for analysis. Laboratory methods allow for precise results. Technicians release the outcome within days, informing users of valuable insights into their drug history.

The benefits of at-home hair follicle testing extend beyond convenience or accessibility. It has a longer detection window than urine, saliva, and blood tests. Hence, chronic drug users can be accurately identified over an extended period. Additionally, the kits are easy to use in detecting legal and illegal substances. Nevertheless, people should consider the limitations of this type of drug test. Overall, the test can help make informed decisions about substance use and take steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

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