Hair Drug Testing guidance for donors

How does hair drug testing work?

We use Hair Testing to detect drugs for a period of 1 month up to 12 months, depending on the length of your hair. Head hair grows approximately 1cm per month. So, a 3cm section of hair will show a time-frame of approximately 3 months. Body hair is approximately 2-3 times longer due to its biology and growth pattern.

Any drug when taken, metabolises in your body and ends up in your bloodstream. Surrounding blood vessels provide your hair with essential elements required for growth. As a result, traces of drugs will also appear in the hair shaft. These traces can remain there for several months. In other words, hair testing provides a “black box” recording of drug usage.

What will happen at the appointment?

We will send you an email containing all the information you need to attend your appointment. Please ensure you bring current photographic identification to your appointment. Also, you will need to provide a list of medications, both prescribed and over the counter. Declared medication must cover the entire period of analysis. When interpreting the results, we take all your medications into consideration.

We will cut a small sample of head hair from the crown of your head, as close to your scalp as possible. This is approx. the width of a mobile telephone charger cable. The test ordered will determine the number of samples required. You can request a ‘B’ sample and we will store this sample at the laboratory. An example for using the ‘B’ sample would include a challenged drug result. Also, upon written and authorised request, we can destroy your ‘B’ sample at any time. The collection of head hair can leave bald patches. We will make every effort to cut the head hair from an area to hide this.

What happens at the Laboratory?

There are many different drug groups that can be included in the analysis. Some of these are:

  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamines (including Ecstasy)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Tramadol
  • Mephedrone
  • Methadone

The laboratory will wash your hair sample and remove any contaminants. Also, the lab will cut your sample to the length required for testing. Conducted under UKAS 17025 standards, the analysis takes 3 to 5 working days.

Results and reporting

We will send a password protected report by email or hard copy containing your test results. Both reporting options are available to you and your employer/solicitor. An expert witness statement is available at an extra cost, if you would like further explanation of your results.

Contacting us

If you have any questions about the drug test or your appointment, please contact your Case Manager. They are there to guide you through the entire process. Also, they can answer any technical questions or address any concerns you may have. Please call 0800 988 7107 and select the option for existing drug test. Ask for your Case Manager whose name appears on your appointment letter.

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