Various techniques have been developed in the last few years in response to the ever-increasing issue of drug abuse. Two methods have emerged rapidly and are globally accepted and used – Urine Drug Testing and Hair Drug Testing.
Urine Drug Screening is known as the simplest and typically most inexpensive drug testing technique. Considered as similar to blood drug testing, urine drug analysis offers the following advantages:
- It is one of the most economical drug testing methods.
- It is fairly accurate and even garnered the title of “the gold standard” in the drug testing industry.
- It can be carried out easily at home or in the office, with proper guidance and lab verification to ensure accurate results.
- It can determine drug use for approximately one week or less.
- It is often integrated with temperature strips to ensure urine being tested is fresh from the donor.
This technique also has several “loopholes” or disadvantages:
- It can be easily “tampered” with by various adulteration methods or even substitution of samples.
- It cannot easily detect immediate drug use. For instance, if a user has taken drugs 0-3 hours prior to the testing, the drugs may not show up in the urine.
- It is often considered to be an intrusive drug testing method.
There are other techniques offering more reliable results, at slightly higher costs. A technique called hair follicle drug testing is a proven and ideal alternative to urine drug testing methods.
A drug hair test offers quite a lot of advantages, including:
- A long drug detection window – for up to 90 days. Even drugs taken a couple months back may be detected with ease, which is impossible with urine tests.
- It is far more sensitive than urine testing. Hair drug testing is known for producing positive results more than twice as often as a urine test. This is proven through a recent study where 1823 paired hair and urine samples were tested and only 57 urine samples were positive, while there were 124 positive hair drug test results from the same group.
- It yields results which are not affected by short periods of abstinence from drugs.
- Many hair follicle drug tests follow the NIDA 5, CLIA and SAMSHA 5 guidelines.
- A wide array of drugs including Cannabis (Marijuana), Ecstasy/MDMA, Cocaine, Opiates, Methamphetamine, Amphetamine & Phencyclidine (PCP) can be easily identified using drug testing with hair.
- Hair drug testing is also considered a relatively non-intrusive method of drug testing.
Even with its numerous advantages, this technique has certain drawbacks including:
- Presently, hair follicle drug testing is more expensive than urine drug tests (approximately $65 – $150).
- A single hair is not enough for this technique, so it requires a pool of sample hairs.
It is still obvious that there are more advantages to hair drug testing than shortcomings. Hair drug screens are usually preferred in forensic studies, doping tests and many other studies related to detection of drugs in the body!