Drug Tests - Hair

During the last couple of years drug screenings in hair samples have been rapidly gaining recognition. In average, head hair grows about 1 cm per month. Following the consumption of alcohol or drugs of abuse, active substancesand their metabolites are continuously incorporated and deposited into the hair matrix. Depending on the analysed hair segment, a previous drug consumption can be detected. A3 cm long hair segment for example will roughly cover a period of 3 months time. Monitoring a long lasting abstinence from drugs is also possible, depending on hair length.
The collection of hair samples is straightforward and non-invasive and can easily be sent to the laboratory as no pre-analytical precautions are necessary.
Hair collection should be performed by a qualified collector, who must not necessarily be a medical professional.
It must be noted that a single or occasional consumption of drugs may not be detected in hair samples. Moreover, hair growth is not continuous. After a growth period (anagenic phase) follows a rest period (telogenic phase). This explains why a 3 cm long hair segment does not exactly correspond to a 3 months period but can cover a much longer period of time.
Particularly at the beginning of an abstinence control programme a safety margin of several months should be added to avoid a detection of drugs originating from a previous period of drug consumption.

Depending on the question the following substances and substance classes could be analysed in hair samples:

  • Amphetamines/Methamphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cocaine
  • Ketamine
  • Methadone
  • Screening for psychotropic Substances
  • Opiates
  • Opioids

Further information on relevant topics

MPA Fitness to Drive

MPA Fitness to Drive

In most industrial countries if a driver loses his driving license as a result of drug or alcohol offense he has to prove abstinence for several months up to one year. The exact conditions of drug testing in urine or hair are different from country to country and depend on the individual situation.

Urine

Urine

For many years, urine has been the preferred specimen for drug of abuse testing. Depending on the substance or metabolite tested, the type of consumption (smoking, sniffing, injection), the dose and the frequency of consumption, drugs can be measured for several days or weeks. Samples then are collected under direct supervision to minimize manipulation attempts.

Saliva

Saliva

The testing of drugs in saliva is a rather new alternative to the analysis of drugs in blood or urine. Particularly in workplace drug testing, a sample can be collected without medical intervention to prove or exclude exposure to drugs of abuse.

Blood

Blood

Blood, serum or plasma are the matrices of choice for toxicological analyses if the objective is to assess the acute impact of a drug of abuse on a person.

Dried Blood Samples

Dried Blood Samples

Chromatographic drug analyses (LC-MS/MS) in capillary blood and DBS (dried blood samples) respectively are of increasing importance.

Meconium

Meconium

Drug abuse during pregnancy poses a serious threat to the normal development of the foetus.

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