Urine Drug Testing and Hair Drug Testing: What’s the Difference?

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Drug screening may be used in a variety of situations. There has been a steady increase in regular drug screening, especially due to the increasing legalization of and access to prescription medication. For instance, someone might be asked to take a drug test when applying for a job, when signing up for the military, or parents may ask their children to take a rapid drug screen test if they suspect they may be abusing drugs.

There are two common types of drug testing: urine drug testing and hair drug testing. This article will take a closer look at the key differences between the two types of testing.

Urine Drug Testing
The most common form of drug testing is urine drug testing. A rapid drug screen kit often includes:

  • a collection cup
  • a temperature strip
  • a slotted lid
  • a standard lid
  • a test card

These tests can be taken at home or at a registered drug testing center. Urine tests can detect a wide variety of substances and results can be received fairly quickly. They are non-invasive and easy to conduct.

Although a rapid drug screen is a convenient way to test for substance abuse, there are also cons that come along with these types of tests. It can be for a person to manipulate the results of the test. If the individual is given enough notice they may be able to flush the toxins out of their body and pass the test. They may also use another person’s urine to ensure the test results come back negative.
So while the rapid drug screen is a quick and convenient test, it’s also important to be aware of the risks manipulation by the individual being tested.

Hair Drug Testing
A hair follicle drug test can be more accurate than a urine drug test. One study involving 1823 hair and urine samples were compared — 124 hair samples came back positive while only 57 urine samples came back positive.

Unlike being able to flush out any substances, that’s not possible with hair. Additionally, hair tests can detect substances up to three months back in time. It’s impossible for a person to use someone else’s hair during the test since the hair follicle is taken directly from the root at the scalp. If the individual has hair shorter than 1.5 inches, or has no hair, a hair follicle drug test most likely won’t be an option. A five-panel hair follicle drug test screens for a wide range of drugs including amphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and phencyclidine. Unfortunately, while a hair follicle test is more accurate, they’re much more expensive than a urine test.

Which Type of Test is Right for You?
There are pros and cons of both types of tests, so deciding which test is a better option really depends on the situation. If you’re applying for a job and are asked to take a drug test, a simple urine sample test will suffice. If you suspect a loved one may be abusing drugs, it might be beneficial to invest in a hair follicle drug test to ensure the accuracy of the results.

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