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Hair Follicle Testing Melbourne Australia: Overview, the Process, and the Types of Substances Detected

14 February, 2024

A professional placing the hair samples to a container using a tweezer

Hair follicle testing in Melbourne Australia is a testing program that involves examining a hair sample to detect the presence of drugs. The process typically begins with the collection of a small sample of hair. This specimen is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Consequently, in the facility, the sample undergoes testing techniques to detect substances. Hair testing is capable of monitoring a wide range of substances. This includes illicit drugs, prescription medications, and even alcohol intake.

Drug testing is an essential tool in identifying substance abuse and ensuring safety. While urine testing, oral fluid testing, and blood testing are common, hair testing has become a preferred method due to its longer window of detection. This type of testing has gained widespread use in Melbourne, Australia, providing a more accurate analysis of the history of drug use. The following sections will present an overview of hair testing in Melbourne, Australia, the process, and the detectable substances.

Overview of Hair Follicle Testing in Melbourne Australia

Hair follicle testing in Melbourne Australia is a method used to detect the presence of drug classes or drug metabolite residues in the system of a person. The process involves collecting head hair or body hair samples. Nevertheless, it is preferable as it can monitor patterns of drug usage. It has a 3-month window of detection, providing reliable and accurate drug testing results.

Consequently, this type of method is common in various sections. In workplaces, employers may use hair drug testing as part of their pre-employment screening. This is to ensure that potential employees are not using illegal drugs or have alcohol abuse issues. Additionally, they may conduct the testing randomly, for reasonable suspicion, blanket testing, or post-accident testing.

Furthermore, law enforcement agencies and forensic practitioners often employ hair drug tests in the investigation of criminal cases. Also, legal professionals may utilise the testing where drug use is a pertinent issue. The results of these tests can impact court decisions. In the medical field, the testing is utilised to monitor individuals with a history of substance abuse or signs of drug dependencies.

Advantages of Hair Testing Over the Other Methods

  • Extended detection window: it offers a longer detection window. This enables a comprehensive evaluation of the drug use patterns of an individual.
  • Non-invasive hair collection procedure: this makes it a more comfortable and convenient option. It is simple and painless.
  • Resistance to tampering: the structure of hair makes it difficult to alter or tamper. This enhances the reliability and integrity of the testing process.
  • Comprehensive drug use history: this is valuable in assessing patterns of drug use and identifying any potential recurrent substance abuse.
  • Consistent sample quality: this reliability ensures more consistency and accurate results.

A lab technician putting the hair samples in a vial

The Process of Hair Follicle Testing in Melbourne Australia

The process of hair follicle testing in Melbourne Australia involves several key steps. The first step is the collection of hair samples. A technician will carefully cut a small amount of hair from the scalp, typically from the back of the head. Subsequently, the conductor will pack and seal it to preserve its integrity during transportation to the testing facility.

Once the hair sample arrives at the laboratory, it undergoes a thorough processing procedure. The conductor will carefully wash the specimen to remove any external contaminants. Consequently, the hair samples undergo analytical testing. This may include an immunoassay initial screen or advanced techniques like Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) or Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS).

After the process, the test results are interpreted by professionals. The presence of substances is carefully evaluated against established cut-off levels. Once the results are verified, the conductor will generate a comprehensive report. This report outlines the substances present, their respective levels, and any other pertinent information.

How Does It Work?

When a person uses drugs or alcohol, these substances enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body, including the hair follicles. As the hair grows, it incorporates the substances present in the bloodstream at the time of growth. Nevertheless, the incorporation of substances into the hair is a passive process governed by the structure of the hair and the chemical nature of the substances.

Accordingly, as the hair sample arrives at the laboratory, it undergoes a series of complex analytical procedures to identify and quantity the substances present. These procedures typically involve the extraction of the substances from the hair, followed by analytical techniques.

A drug test result and various types of drugs in the background

Types of Substances Detected in Hair Follicle Testing in Melbourne Australia

The hair follicle testing in Melbourne Australia can detect different types of substances. Foremost, the drug testing method can monitor the presence of illicit drugs. This refers to substances that are illegal to possess, use or distribute. Some common detectable illegal drugs in hair testing include marijuana (THC), cocaine, amphetamine substances, heroin, and methamphetamine.

In addition to illicit substances, hair testing can identify the existence of prescription medications in the body. This may include opioids (oxycodone and morphine), benzodiazepines, sedatives, and stimulation. Also, it can detect the presence of Over-the-Counter (OTC) drugs. This medications may involve cough syrups containing codeine or other substances.

Moreover, hair testing can monitor the presence of ethanol or alcohol. It is the intoxicating ingredient in most alcoholic beverages. This provides information about the alcohol consumption of an individual over a period of time. Hence, this is particularly useful in assessing long-term alcohol use patterns. Overall, hair follicle testing can detect a wide range of substances.

Are There Risks for False Positives?

There is a potential for false positives in hair testing, like in any other form of testing. One possibility is due to external contamination. This can occur when the substances from the external environment adhere to the hair. While washing procedures occur, it remains a potential factor that can lead to false positive results. Another factor for false positives is the potential for cross-reactivity.

Additionally, certain hair products (dyes, bleaches, and styling products) may contain chemicals that could interfere with the testing process. These products can introduce substances that mimic drugs or alter the chemical composition of the hair, leading to inaccurate test outcomes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, hair follicle testing in Melbourne Australia is an effective method for determining drug or alcohol use. Consequently, it is common in workplaces, law enforcement agencies, legal proceedings, and medical settings. Furthermore, it holds numerous advantages over other testing methods. It provides an extended detection window, a non-invasive hair collection procedure, and resistance to tampering. Also, it extends a comprehensive drug use history and consistent sample quality.

The process of hair testing typically begins with hair sample collection. Subsequently, the conductor will forward it to a laboratory for analysis. In the facility, the hair undergoes washing and analytical techniques. This may include immunoassay testing, LC-MS, or GC-MS. After the process, a professional interprets the result and generates a report. Moreover, hair follicle testing can detect various substances. This may include illicit drugs, prescription or OTC medications, and even ethanol.

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