Dynamic Testing Solutions Blog

Hair Drug Testing - How Drugs and Alcohol are Incorporated in Hair

Sarah Atkinson - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recently, hair testing has come to be seen as a powerful tool for the detection of drug and alcohol abuse. Hair provides a long-term history of drug and alcohol abuse by trapping biomarkers in the fibers of the growing hair strand. When collected close to the scalp, hair can provide up to a 3 month history of alcohol and drug abuse. Drug and alcohol biomarkers can appear in scalp hair 1-7 days after the last use. Hair offers a sample that is simple to collect and difficult to adulterate. With 200 strands of hair (about the size of a #2 pencil) the length of 1.5" collected closest to the scalp will give the ideal sample for screening and confirmation. If head hair is not available, fingernails can be collected from all 10 fingers at the length of approx. 2mm (the width of a quarter) and have a detection window of approx. 3 - 6 months. 

Hair alcohol test measures average alcohol consumption over a period of approximately three months. This indicates the level of alcohol use during that time period and can provide a behavioral indication of excessive use. The hair test measures Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG), which is a trace metabolite of ethanol and is considered a direct alcohol biomarker. This test is used to provide answers about alcohol abuse and give an indicator of those dependent on alcohol.

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