Hair Follicle Drug Test: What Does It Detect and How Long Is the Detection Period?

Hair Follicle Drug Test: What Does It Detect and How Long Is the Detection Period?
Apr 2021

Accuracy is something that you expect when testing an individual for drugs. A hair follicle drug test screens the most well-known prescription medications and illicit drugs. This is considered an upgrade from the urine test, which is effective, but limited in its usage. 


Some companies have to go through inconclusive results when getting a urine test. A hair follicle drug test gets rid of that uncertainty while providing a surefire way to detect substances. Job type matters, as federal careers with high level positions can’t rely on urine tests to complete the profile of a job applicant. With the initial background screening going back multiple years, it makes sense that a drug test should also have an extended coverage period. 

What Does It Detect?

A hair follicle drug tests covers everything from a urine test, plus more. That includes PCP, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, opioids and more. It’s important to note that it also detects some prescription drugs. Test takers should be upfront about their medications before taking a hair follicle test or they run the risk of testing inconsistencies. As long as the drug isn’t banned by the organization providing the test, then there should be no trouble mentioning it beforehand. 

How Long is The Detection Period?

An analyzed sample can detect signs of drug use from the past 90 days. This is a significant change from urine samples that can only detect the past few days. With a hair sample, you can get a better visual of repeated drug abuse that can’t be tricked by going clean a week prior. This works hand in hand with an extended background test by filling in any blanks. With a hair follicle drug test, you get the full picture of an individual that is backed by facts. 

Dealing with The Results

Although a hair follicle drug test is the most accurate, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. A negative result takes 24 hours to determine while a positive result takes 72 hours. In the rare instance a test is inconclusive, it requires the test taker to submit a second sample. This is time consuming for everyone involved, but is a necessary part of getting accurate results. 

Downsides of A Hair Follicle Drug Test

The test is more expensive than a traditional urine test. For a small company that has to test a lot of employees, this can add up quickly. If the test is for a job, the employer is required to foot 100% of the bill – this includes paying the test taker for their time. Urine tests don’t require the employer to pay a potential employee for going through with the process. These are the type of additional costs that should always be looked at when deciding in favor of a hair follicle drug test. 

Wrap Up

Drug tests don’t have to be invasive to get accurate results. Technology in this area of the industry has evolved to provide better results without inconveniencing the test taker. By providing more options for drug detection, individuals and companies gain a notable amount of flexibility.