Court Drug Testing

How long does it take from time of consumption for drugs to grow out into the hair shaft?

Approximately 10 – 14 days


What are the different time-frames associated with hair testing?

Every one-half inch (1/2”) of head hair is approximately equilavent to a thirty (30) day timeframe. Body hair yields an aproximate six (6) month timeframe. A standard hair test is 1 ½”, or 90 days, though longer time periods can be tested, depending on the length of the hair.

Can I find out if a person used drugs on a month-by-month timeframe through hair testing?

Yes, if you request the laboratory to segment the hair sample. Segmentation of hair must be specified on the chain-of-custody form. For example, if you wishe to evaluate the last three (3) months for drug use but wants to evaluate each month separately, the following format should can be written in the comments section on the chain-of-custody form:

(0-30), (31-60), (61-90)   The numbers refer to days in the month. If there is no timeframe specification reflected on the chain-of-custody for hair testing, the standard cut of 1 ½” is tested as a 90 day test.

Is there an extra charge for hair segmentation?

The hair will be cut in the laboratory into thirty (30) day segments. Each segment will be a separate hair test; therefore, a test fee will be charged for each segment tested. As an example, if a person submits 1 ½” of hair and requests 30-day segmentation, the hair will be cut into three (3) thirty (30) day segments. The cost will be the hair test price x 3.

Five Panel Hair Drug Testing

Standard 5-panel test:

Drug Class Screen


300 pg/mg
500 pg/mg
300 pg/mg
1 pg/mg
300 pg/mg
500 pg/mg
300 pg/mg

*Ten (10) Panel Hair Test

  • Five (5) Panel above, plus
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepenes
  • Methadone
  • Propoxyphene


Q What testing methodology is used for hair tests?
A A two-tiered testing process is used:
1) A portion of the hair sample is screened using an Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) – a reliable and proven methodology for routine drug testing.
2) Any samples that are presumptively positive in the screening process are then confirmed, utilizing another portion of the hair sample, with either gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) or gas chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (GC/MS/MS).
Q What is ELISA?
A ELISA is an acronym for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. ELISA assays are heterogeneous non-isotopic assays that usually have an antibody immobilized onto a solid support. The ELISA assay uses a microtiter plate that has the antibody to the drug, drug metabolite or drug class coated to each well of the microtiter plate.
Q Is ELISA forensically defensible?
A Yes, the technology is well established and has been used in many formats for the analysis of drugs of abuse, therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM), serology (antibody tests) and blood banking procedures. Furthermore, ELISA technology is used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry for new drug screening and development.
Q What is the difference between EIA and ELISA?
A EIA is the more traditional enzyme immunoassay. The technology has been widely used for the analysis of drugs of abuse. It is homogenous in nature meaning that the analysis is performed without any physical separation during the analysis. ELISA is heterogeneous — the microtiter plate is washed before the reaction is allowed to go to completion. In general, ELISA assays may offer greater sensitivity than most EIA procedures.
Q What is the turnaround time?
A The laboratory receives the samples via overnight courier and US Mail. Preparation of the sample for testing is performed the day the samples arrive and the initial test is completed overnight. Negative screening results are typically reported within 48 hours of specimen receipt. Positive results are confirmed, reviewed, and typically reported within 4-5 days of receipt.
Q What drugs are tested with hair testing?
A PicMed Clinic uses hair samples to test for the following drugs:
Amphetamines (Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA and MDA)
Opiates (Codeine, Morphine and 6-monoacetylmorphine) or “expanded” opiates (which includes semi-synthetic opiates)
Cocaine (and cocaine metabolites)
Marijuana metabolite (THC Carboxylic Acid metabolite)
Q Can hair testing detect Ecstasy?
A Yes, Ecstasy is reported under the “Amphetamines” group.
Q Can hair testing detect oxycodone or other semi-synthetic opiates?
A Yes. Upon request, a customer’s testing panel may also include confirmatory testing for semi-synthetic opiates (hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone).
Q Will the test results really reflect drug use over the past 90 days?
A Yes. Hair follicles underneath the scalp are surrounded by a dense network of capillary blood vessels. Drugs in the bloodstream are able to incorporate and bind to the hair follicles underneath the scalp. It takes approximately 5-10 days for hair containing drug to reach the outer environment on top of the scalp to be collected based on the average rate of head hair growth. Head hair grows approximately 1.3 cm or a ½ inch per month. The standard length of hair tested by the laboratory is the first 3.9 cm or 1½ inches from the root end. Therefore, a hair analysis of 3.9 cm covers a time span of approximately 90 days and detects a pattern of drug use over this timeframe.
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