If you suspect someone close to you is using drugs, a rush of emotions and helplessness can immediately flood your mind. So, what do you do? Are you familiar with the pros and cons of hair vs. urine drug testing?
In either case, until confirmed, your notion is just that, a notion. You may not know where to go or what to do next. Ultimately, however, you may decide the only way to confirm or put to rest your concerns is to buy and administer a home drug test. Undoubtedly, you will ponder which is the surest and most comprehensive type of at home drug test when it comes to hair vs. urine drug testing. So, let’s take a look.
There are several methods when it comes to at-home drug testing; urinalysis, saliva tests, and hair testing rank among the most popular means. For at home use, urine and hair testing are most commonly utilized.
For overall accuracy and comprehensiveness, parents often prefer hair testing, but urinalysis ranks high for other reasons. To determine which is best for your needs, you should first understand how both urine and hair drug tests are administered. So, let’s compare HairConfirm®, an at-home hair lab test, to FirstCheck, an at-home instant urine test, to weigh your options.
How a Urine Test is Done
When administering an at-home urine test, like FirstCheck, the person being tested urinates into the provided test kit collection cup inside a bathroom. It’s important even at home to ensure your loved one leaves purses, bags, and other belongings behind and empties his or her pockets before entering the bathroom to prevent any cheating while collecting the urine sample.
At least 45 milliliters (1.5 ounces) is required in order to obtain an accurate result. With FirstCheck, you simply twist and seal the top of the collection cup, tip the cup on its side, and read immediate results with the option to send in the sample to a lab to confirm your results.
How a Hair Test is Done
Hair drug testing, like HairConfirm®, starts with cutting 100-120 strands of hair from the subject’s scalp. It can be cut from different areas of the scalp to avoid bald spots. If the person is bald, hair from other regions of the body can suffice as well. Hair must be cut from as close to the scalp or root as possible to ensure the measure is of the most recent time frame.
When undergoing a hair drug test at home, you will likely need assistance during the entire process. A positive is that hair can’t be as easily compromised as urine and is a cheat-proof method of drug testing. For instance, hair can be washed, dyed, or styled with hair products without affecting the accuracy of the test. Therefore, close supervision is not as critical as with urine tests, but assistance in sample collection will likely be necessary.
After collecting your hair sample at home, the hair sample must be placed inside foil and an outer envelope provided in the HairConfirm® testing kit before being sent to a lab for testing.
Deciding Which Test is Best
To determine which test is best for your situation, HairConfirm® versus FirstCheck, you must weigh the pros and cons of hair vs. urine drug testing on factors such as accuracy of detection, the time span of usage, the likelihood of cheating, results turnaround time, invasiveness, and cost.
Hair tests, such as HairConfirm®, undergo two phases of testing. Hair first receives an ELISA test, producing a negative or positive result within 24 hours. If the ELISA indicates usage of a drug, a GC/MS test, or gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, is conducted to make sure the result is not a false positive. HairConfirm® can detect as many as 10 illicit and 4 prescription drugs. On the other hand, traditional at-home urine tests don’t have a lab confirmation process due to their instant result nature. FirstCheck can detect up to 12 drugs of abuse.
Therefore, hair drug testing accuracy is more reliable than urine testing.
As for the history of a person’s drug usage, hair drug tests, like HairConfirm®, can detect further back – as far back as 90 days, whereas a FirstCheck urine test detects drug use only up to 5 days before the test and sometimes fails to detect same-day usage. On the other hand, because it takes some time for the bloodstream to manifest its contents in hair specimen, the use of drugs from 5-7 days before the hair test cannot be detected.
A HairConfirm® test, therefore, is not as practical for testing just after an accident or as a purely reactive measure than an instant urine test may be.
Overall, however, a HairConfirm® hair drug test reveals the history of drug use better than a FirstCheck urine test because of its ability to detect further back. To compensate for its short-term usage limitation, you can simply administer the hair test two, three, or four times a year for consistency, accountability, and drug prevention purposes.
The Cheating Factor
Everyone wants a cheat-proof method of drug testing. Urine tests are well known for being liable to cheating. Fake urine, other people’s urine and other ways are frequently used to adulter the results of a urine test. In order to minimize the risk of cheating with urine testing, some may choose to monitor the individual taking the sample, which can be uncomfortable to say the least. On the other hand, there is no known method of cheating a hair drug test. Due to the collection method, it simply isn’t possible to cheat a hair drug test as long as the hair of the individual being tested is the hair collected.
So, the advantage goes to hair testing.
This is somewhat of a wash. A FirstCheck urine test provides preliminary results within 5 minutes. However, the wait time to receive results for HairConfirm® or confirmatory results from FirstCheck are both about 3-9 days after mailing your sample to the lab.
An at-home HairConfirm® hair test normally costs more than a FirstCheck urine test. A home kit for hair testing costs roughly $59 to $89 versus a FirstCheck urine test which can be purchased for under $40. With this cost in mind, however, hair testing is often a more efficient method of preventing drug abuse as a single test can cover 90 days.
On the other hand, if only concerned with very short-term drug use, urine tests are a cheap way of testing for drug use within the last 5-7 days. As previously stated, standard, at-home instant urine tests, like FirstCheck, cost anywhere from $15 to $40 per test depending on the number of drugs being tested. Unsurprisingly, this short detection window makes urine testing less efficient in preventing drug use as it would take 12 weekly urine tests in order to monitor the same time frame that hair tests do.
Because of its much longer detection window, range of drugs detected, and cheat-proof nature, when it comes to hair vs. urine drug testing, HairConfirm® hair testing proves a more reliable way to determine the presence of drug abuse.