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29 Sept 2022

What is segmented hair drug testing?

There are benefits to segmenting hair when performing hair drug testing. Out latest post explains what some of these are.

Hair Drug Testing

What's the difference between segmentation and an overview?

Hair drug testing is performed either as an overview or by segmentation. An overview identifies any drug use throughout the defined testing period and is reported as an integrated average. Whereas segmentation provides a month by month break down.

Segmentation provides a more detailed history of an individual’s drug use. It is recommended in cases where drugs have been used within or close to a particular time frame of the analysis, and evidence is needed that drug use has recently stopped.

Segmentation can show a trend in an individual’s drug use. For example, it could show a decline in the amount of the drug found within the hair strand. This can support claims that drug use has ceased. Whereas an overview test would show that the drug has been used at some point throughout the whole testing period.

In addition, segmentation is also recommended in situations where an individual is not a regular user or has only taken the drug on a couple of occasions. Smaller quantities of drug use may not be measurable within an overview test, so detection for a one-off instance can be difficult. However, analysing the hair in smaller sections provides a better chance of detecting these small amounts of drug.

Hair drug testing and segmentation for spiking incidents

This is particularly useful for spiking incidents. For this analysis we cut the hair into multiple sections. Ideally the hair should be cut into 5 sections which is taken a minimum of five weeks after the incident. This provides a result for before, during and after the incident. It is important to note that if a substance has not been detected, this does not mean that spiking did not occur. It means that the amount of drug is so small that it is not detectable in the hair.

What about hair alcohol testing and segmentation?

For hair alcohol testing, segmentation is not beneficial. We don’t recommend that the hair is segmented for alcohol use due to the way alcohol markers incorporate into the hair strand, as they’re mainly deposited through sweat. It is recommended by the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT) that alcohol hair testing should be conducted as an overview of a 3-month period. Segmentation may lead to false findings, causing an erroneous overestimation of alcohol consumption.

For more information, please call 0800 988 7107 to speak to a Clinical Advisor.