You may be wondering what a hair follicle drug test entails. You also may be curious as to how you might pass a hair follicle test. Here’s everything you need to know about hair follicle drug testing.
As part of covering addiction to drugs like marijuana, opiates and meth on Addictive Addiction, we also want to provide you with information about drug tests which you may have to undergo at some point in your life. The most common drug test by far is the urine test, but hair follicle tests are also frequently used, particularly by law enforcement.
Hair Follicle Drug Test Detection Times
Chances are, if you’re pulled by the cops and they suspect you may be under the influence, they’ll order a blood or urine drug test. But there are some instances in which a hair follicle drug test will be ordered.
Sometimes pre-employment screenings will include one of these tests. This is rare, however, as most employers opt for the less expensive drug screens. If you are suspected by law enforcement of a more serious crime, a hair follicle drug screen may be required. So what are they testing for, and what will they find?
A majority of hair follicle drug tests screen for drugs which have been used in the past week to three months. A 5-panel test will screen for marijuana (see our page on Marijuana detox for more info) cocaine, PCP, opiates, or amphetamines. There are 10-panel tests which may be used as well. These screen for those drugs and for methadone, barbiturates and others.
Your hair may be pulled, but is generally cut as close to your scalp as possible in order to get the most accurate results. Body hair may be tested, as metabolized drug molecules can be found in any hair – not just the hair on your head.
Generally speaking, a drug screener will require 50 to 70 strands of your hair in order to get an accurate representation of drugs in your hair. The hairs should be at least an inch and a half long, but much shorter samples may be used with accuracy.
Is there any way to “beat” a hair follicle drug test? Let’s look at the test in detail and explore methods people sometimes use to beat the system.
Hair Follicle Drug Test Cutoff Levels
Hair follicle drug test cutoff levels are the minimum amounts of a substance which must be found in your hair in order for the lab results to come back positive. The Federal government sets these limits, and they are dependent upon the drug which is found.
Here are a few examples of hair follicle drug test cutoff limits. All measurements are in nanograms per milliliter.
These measurements are specific to the hair follicle drug test. Urine, saliva and blood tests will require different results.
Hair Follicle Drug Test Shampoo
Your hair grows very quickly – about a half an inch a month, and even more quickly for some. That said, shaving your hair will not work. Hair follicle drug tests can be accurate for up to three months, and in that time your hair can grow up to an inch and a half long.
There are a number of products on the market which are advertised to help you beat a drug test. However, it’s important to note that metabolized drugs “live” in the hair shaft. That said, a shampoo will only wash the outermost layer of your hair, and are likely to be ineffective at helping you to beat a drug test.
Shampoos which are designed to help you pass a hair follicle drug test are also very pricey. Shampoos can cost as much as $300, and with no guarantee that they’ll work, you’d likely be better off putting that money to other use. For example, hiring a good attorney.
Hair Follicle Drug Test Results pg mg
In some cases, when you’re required to comply with a hair follicle drug test, you’ll receive a printout of the results. Of course, at this point you’ll likely already be aware of the results. But they can be interesting to look at.
The numbers listed above in the “cutoff” section of this article are the minimum amounts of metabolized drugs which need to be found for a positive drug test result. The numbers on your report will be slightly different, however. The report will be in picograms per milligram; one pictogram is a trillionth of a gram. In other words, it’s miniscule.
As an example of how your report may differ from the above numbers, the minimum level of marijuana which will indicate a positive drug test is 0.10pg/mg. Be sure that you note the unit of measurement prior to reading your drug test.
Hair Follicle Drug Test FAQ
We’ve received a few questions about specific drug tests from you, and we’d like to take a bit of time to answer those questions. It’s possible that you’re concerned about second hand smoke, or about that one time you used cocaine. Here are a few frequently asked questions about the hair follicle drug test.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Hair Follicle?
Cocaine, like most other drugs, will stay traceable in your hair for 90 days. Metabolized cocaine does not usually live in the root of your hair, however, so cutting your hair may be a plausible way to beat a hair follicle drug test.
How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Test for Opiates
Vicodin, Percocet, codeine, oxycontin, and Lortab are a few opiates which can be detected with a hair follicle drug test. Some of our users have stated that using hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice and Clorox bleach on the hair can cleanse strands of the presence of opiates. It should be apparent, however, that cleansing your hair with Clorox is not advised and carries its own risks.
How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Test for Meth
As with other drugs, the hair follicle drug test will test back up to 90 days for meth use. It’s unlikely that the meth you used last night will show up in a drug test tomorrow, as there is usually a 5 or so day window. However, it’s very difficult to pass a hair follicle drug test for meth. As a last resort, try shaving your hair, but remember that body hair can be tested as well.
Hair Follicle Drug Test Second Hand Smoke
If you’re concerned that you might fail a drug test due to second hand inhalation, you’ve probably got nothing to worry about. The concentration of drugs which needs to be found in your system will usually allow for a bit of second hand smoke, if it’s detected at all. If your habit is to daily lounge on the couch while your roommate smokes, you may have a bit of a problem. But if you were exposed to second hand smoke once or twice, you likely won’t have an issue passing a hair follicle drug test.
How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Test with Vinegar
There have been reports of users washing or soaking their hair in vinegar in order to pass a hair follicle drug test. The results were varied. Some have told us that the tests came back negative, while others stated that the vinegar didn’t work, and they failed the test.
It goes without saying that the only sure way to pass a drug test is abstinence. If you’re able, quit using for about 110 days prior to your drug test. Those on probation or with court dates will generally know when the drug test will take place. If you’re unable to abstain prior to your hair follicle drug test, you can try shaving your head and body hair, or as an absolute last resort, invest in a detox shampoo.