Drug Testing

Drug testing has been around for a long time, but why do they do it? Well, there are many reasons for testing for drug use. The reason is that in many cases, the one who is using may have gotten hurt or worse, and therefore for informational and statistical purposes, whether a person was intoxicated or not or had recent use can show the status of why and how things happened.

For example, a lot of times when it comes to an employee that’s being drug tested, you may notice that their work habits have changed, or that if they have a drug problem, then you get backlash with a change of attitude, or even in some cases, they can do things which can harm themselves or other people, either on accident or on purpose. Therefore, drug testing aims to ensure that an employee or a person “at fault” is drug-free or just to inquire whether they were actively using a drug. More info can be found here: A hair follicle drug test is a method used to detect drug use over a prolonged period. This type of test is known for its accuracy and the ability to provide a detailed drug use history. Here's a comprehensive overview of how hair follicle drug tests work, their uses, and their benefits:

How It Works

Sample Collection

  • Hair Sample: A small sample of hair, typically around 1.5 inches long and taken close to the scalp, is collected. This sample usually provides a drug use history of about 90 days.
  • Body Hair: If head hair is not available, body hair can also be used, though it may represent a longer detection window.

Laboratory Analysis

  • Initial Screening: The hair sample undergoes an initial screening using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect the presence of drugs.
  • Confirmatory Test: If the initial test is positive, a confirmatory test using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) or liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) is conducted to confirm the results and identify specific substances.

Drugs Detected

Hair follicle tests can detect a wide range of substances, including:
  • Cannabinoids: THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
  • Cocaine: Including its metabolites.
  • Opiates: Such as heroin, codeine, and morphine.
  • Amphetamines: Including methamphetamine and ecstasy (MDMA).
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates

Uses of Hair Follicle Drug Testing

Workplace Testing

  • Pre-Employment: Employers use hair follicle tests to screen potential employees for drug use.
  • Random Testing: Regular random testing ensures ongoing compliance with drug-free workplace policies.

Legal and Forensic

  • Court Orders: Used in child custody cases, probation requirements, and other legal matters.
  • Forensic Investigations: Provides evidence in criminal investigations related to drug use.

Rehabilitation Programs

  • Monitoring: Ensures compliance with rehabilitation programs by providing a history of drug use.

Personal Testing

  • Self-Testing: Individuals may use hair follicle tests to monitor their own drug use history.


Long Detection Window

  • Hair follicle tests can detect drug use up to 90 days prior, which is much longer than urine or saliva tests.


  • The test involves a simple hair sample collection, which is painless and easy to administer.

Difficult to Cheat

It is nearly impossible to cheat a hair follicle test since the sample is taken directly from the body and the detection window is extensive.

Detailed History

Provides a comprehensive history of drug use, making it useful for understanding patterns and frequency of use.



Hair follicle tests are generally more expensive than urine or saliva tests.

Detection Window

While it provides a long detection window, it may not detect very recent drug use (within the last few days).

Hair Length and Growth Rate

Results can be influenced by hair length and growth rate, which can vary between individuals.

Hair follicle drug testing is a reliable and comprehensive method for detecting drug use over an extended period. Its applications in the workplace, legal settings, and personal monitoring make it a valuable tool for ensuring compliance and safety. Despite its higher cost and the potential for not detecting very recent use, its benefits in providing a long-term drug use history make it a preferred choice in many scenarios​ (Melbourne Headshots)​ . 

What are Some Types of Tests?

While employees aren’t the only ones affected, there are many reasons why drug tests are used. Alcohol tests are used by police to determine whether a person is driving while intoxicated to ensure that roadways are safe because it is unsafe both for the drunk driver and other people or pedestrians who are out.

When it comes to employees, many things can be warning signs, and the types of tests vary. Some employers still use mouth saliva swabs, even though these aren’t as accurate when it comes to DIY testing that is done by the employer anymore and has the highest rating of false positives. Most companies will use hair follicle testing for hiring people to ensure they’re not actively or recently been using, as well as urine analysis to ensure that they aren’t drunk at work or using drugs recreationally that could hinder their performance or cause injuries.

Why Do Companies Test?

This is for their own insurance (no, not their plan, but the company’s general well-being) and the employees' well-being. A company wants to ensure that their employee will not do something rash that could cause a loss of the company’s production in any way, shape, or form. When it happens, many things can ensue, from lawsuits, all the way to even work-related fatalities that cost companies thousands and sometimes even millions of dollars.

Drug testing serves multiple critical purposes across different contexts, from workplaces to healthcare settings. Here are the primary purposes of drug testing:

1. Workplace Safety and Productivity

  • Ensuring Safety: In industries where safety is paramount, such as construction, transportation, and manufacturing, drug testing helps ensure that employees are not under the influence of substances that could impair their ability to perform their duties safely.
  • Enhancing Productivity: Substance abuse can significantly reduce productivity and increase absenteeism. By implementing drug testing, employers aim to maintain a productive and reliable workforce .

2. Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Requirements

  • Legal Obligations: Certain industries are legally required to conduct drug testing. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation mandates drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive positions in the transportation sector.
  • Regulatory Standards: Many organizations need to comply with industry regulations and standards that mandate drug testing to ensure a safe working environment .

3. Health and Wellness Monitoring

  • Identifying Substance Abuse: Drug testing in healthcare settings can help identify individuals struggling with substance abuse, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.
  • Monitoring Medication Compliance: For patients undergoing treatment for substance use disorders or other medical conditions, drug testing can ensure compliance with prescribed medications and monitor potential misuse .

4. Prevention and Deterrence

  • Deterring Substance Use: The knowledge that drug testing is conducted can act as a deterrent against the use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription medications among employees, students, or patients.
  • Preventing Recurrence: In rehabilitation and recovery programs, regular drug testing helps prevent relapse and supports ongoing sobriety efforts .

5. Legal and Forensic Purposes

  • Legal Evidence: Drug testing can provide evidence in legal cases, such as DUI (driving under the influence) charges, custody disputes, and employment-related legal issues.
  • Probation and Parole Compliance: Individuals on probation or parole may be required to undergo regular drug testing as part of their compliance with legal conditions .

6. Sports and Athletics

  • Ensuring Fair Competition: Drug testing in sports aims to ensure a level playing field by detecting the use of performance-enhancing drugs and substances banned by sports governing bodies.
  • Protecting Athlete Health: It also helps protect athletes' health by discouraging the use of harmful substances that could have serious long-term health effects .


Drug testing is a multifaceted tool used to ensure safety, compliance, health, and fairness across various sectors. By identifying and deterring substance abuse, it plays a crucial role in maintaining safe and productive environments, whether in the workplace, healthcare, legal, or sports settings. If you’re an employer, Psychemedics can help you achieve a drug-free workplace with various testing and policy implementation, as well as help with training programs that can help educate and maintain employee loyalty and help employees ensure that they do a lot. They primarily use hair testing methods which are the most accurate way to get results than urine analysis and even blood tests. They give a free consultation with their support program packages to help your company save and maintain productivity.