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Where to Get a Hair Follicle Drug Test in Australia?

02 May, 2023

Checking the hair sample for a drug test

A hair follicle drug test in Australia is helpful for diverse purposes. It provides accurate details regarding a person’s past substance use. Hence, it is integrated into various drug and alcohol testing programs. Individuals or organisations can get a hair follicle test provided by laboratories or testing facilities. Unlike other test methods, hair samples require lab analysis. However, sample collection kits are available to enable a person to submit a specimen and send it to a lab.

Hair testing is one of the methods for detecting drugs and alcohol. It can provide specific and quantitative results, ranging from low to high levels. The sample collection is also non-invasive and convenient. However, its uses and applications may be limited to specific situations due to the nature of testing. Therefore, it is less common than urine or saliva testing. This article will present various hair drug test services, how it works, and considerations for accuracy.

Getting a Hair Follicle Drug Test in Australia

The need for a hair follicle drug test in Australia may vary for individual, professional, health, and legal purposes. It requires a laboratory analysis to determine substance use. Therefore, individuals and companies can avail of a hair test through testing agencies. However, there are collection kits that enable individuals to gather a sample and submit it to a lab for analysis. It is a cost-efficient process, eliminating the need to go to a clinic to perform the test.

After ingestion, drug and drug metabolites store in the hair matrix through the bloodstream. Unlike body fluids, substances remain within the hair strands as it grows. Therefore, they provide accurate detection for up to 90 days from the last use. However, since it takes time for hair to grow, it is not ideal for detecting current exposure or impairments. For this reason, hair drug testing mainly identifies past substance use.

Hair follicle drug tests in Australia are valuable in treatment facilities, medical, probation, and custody cases. It helps determine patterns of illegal or prescription drugs. Therefore, it helps healthcare providers how to treat a patient with substance abuse. It is also essential in legal cases like driving violations and child custody. The outcomes can help the court make judgements. Since it has a long detection period, it is difficult to circumvent the results.

Advantages

  • Long detection window – can establish patterns of drug use over time
  • Non-invasive and easy sample collection procedure
  • Can use body hair as an alternative if head hair is unavailable
  • Accurate – using ELISA, GC-MS, and HPLC methods
  • Hair is stable and difficult to adulterate
  • Results are admissible in court
  • Results are not affected by external contaminants

Drugs and drug test result

Process of Hair Follicle Drug Test in Australia

Hair follicle drug tests in Australia are one of the most reliable methods for drug screening. The samples can be obtained in full view of the collector. Thus, it is nearly impossible for adulteration or substitution. The collection involves cutting 100 to 200 hair strands from the same area near the scalp. Moreover, it requires a minimum length of 1.5 inches of hair for a sample to be sufficient for a detection period of 90 days.

Generally, drugs can appear in a hair test after 7-10 days of last use. This is based on the average rate of hair growth from the substances embedded in the hair follicle until it emerges from the scalp. Therefore, obtaining the specimen must be close to the crown as possible. Body hair can also be used if head hair is unavailable. However, body hair can detect as far back as one year due to a slower growth rate.

Hair follicle drug tests in Australia follow a chain of custody. This includes proper documentation, storing, and transporting samples to a laboratory facility. Hence, it ensures the accuracy and reliability of the test. Furthermore, the process can take 24-48 hours to produce the result. Initial screening uses enzyme immunoassay to detect the presence of drugs. If the results are positive or have trace drugs, it undergoes a second step that can identify and quantify specific substances in the hair.

Variable for Detecting Drugs in Hair

  • Drug dosage
  • Structure of drug compounds
  • Additives added to the drugs
  • Time of last consumption
  • Frequency of use – one-time or chronic
  • Metabolic rate
  • Hair colour and texture
  • Sensitivity of the testing method
  • Rate of hair growth
  • Where the sample is collected – head hair vs body hair

Putting a hair specimen in a container

Accuracy of Hair Follicle Drug Test in Australia

Organisations rely on hair follicle drug tests in Australia because of their precision in processing and delivering the results. Collectors follow specific measures to avoid possible inaccuracies. For example, hair must be taken near the crown at the time of the test. Hair from a brush is not allowed as it breaks the chain of custody. Moreover, it needs legal consent to undergo the process. Therefore, only the donor or legal guardian (for minors) can authorise the drug test.

Collection kits come with label instructions on how to secure and package the samples. Individuals using this method must carefully follow the procedure to avoid inconclusive results. A test is invalid if there is an insufficient hair sample, damaged hair, or something goes wrong with the testing. During analysis, technicians wash the hair samples to remove external contaminants like shampoo, smoke, and other hair products.

Hair follicle drug tests in Australia can screen for multiple substances at once. An employer may use a standard 5-panel test to determine commonly abused substances. The higher the number of panels, the more specific the tests become. Thus, choosing the test would depend on the situation or requirements. More factors can influence a hair drug test. Since it has a wider detection window, a person who may not actively take drugs anymore may still report positive.

Limitations

  • could not detect current usage; hence, it is not appropriate for random or reasonable suspicion tests
  • potential hair colour bias
  • needs laboratory testing and confirmation
  • longer processing time
  • more expensive
  • unavailable head or body hair
  • can establish patterns of drug use but not the exact time

Conclusion

Individuals and various institutions can get a hair follicle drug test in Australia through an accredited laboratory or testing centre. Some may purchase hair test kits to send the samples to a facility. It is essential in healthcare or legal cases where evidence of substance use is needed. The advantages include non-invasive, easy sample collection and a long detection window. However, it also has some limitations, such as the inability to detect current usage, longer processing time and high cost.

A hair test provides high accuracy due to the stability of the specimen and the sophisticated technology used for detection. In particular, hair products do not affect the test. Since it varies between individuals, it cannot determine the exact usage time. If a test is positive, it undergoes a second process to identify the specific substance and amount. Lastly, combining hair drug tests with other strategies can help ensure a healthier and safer environment.

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      Checking the hair sample for a drug test

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