Hair Drug & Alcohol Testing

How does testing hair prove misuse of drugs or alcohol?

Hair Testing measures the traces of drugs or alcohol found inside and outside a shaft of hair.

Traces last for a number of months – and as hair typically grows at 1cm per month, we can identify what’s been used within a reliable timeframe. In other words, testing hair provides a Black Box recording of drug and alcohol use.


Hair Drug Testing

Hair testing for drug use is a straight forward process, where we measure the number of drugs and drug metabolites found inside the shafts of a lock of hair. By taking a small sample, from the head or body, we can establish the level of use over a period stretching from one week ago to the previous 12 months – depending on the length of hair.

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Hair Testing for Alcohol Use and Abstinence

Hair testing for alcohol use is a different matter. Alcohol doesn’t deposit itself inside the hair shaft, so instead we look for Ethyl Glucuronide (ETG) and Fatty Acids Ethyl Esters (FAEE) which are biomarkers of alcohol consumption, that can be detected in hair.

Depending on the levels detected, it can indicate abstinence or it can point to chronic excessive consumption of alcohol dating back for a period of 3 or 6 months.

Cansford Laboratories developed a sensitive LC-MS/MS procedure to detect ETG to indicate alcohol abstinence according to the SoHT Guidelines which has been accredited by UKAS to ISO 17025 standards.

We are the first laboratory in the Uk to achieve this level of sensitivity.

Why is hair testing more effective than other methods?

Hair testing provides a reliable history of drug or alcohol consumption, making a clear distinction between casual and sustained chronic use. And there are very few limitations. As tests can be carried out on either head or body hair, samples can be taken from virtually any individual.

Compared with other forms of testing, hair offers:

  • Less invasive collection
  • More sensitive results
  • A longer window of detection
  • Less risk of tampering

Who uses hair testing and why?

We’re testing hair for all manner of professionals and groups, including:

Learn more about drug and alcohol testing by checking out these FAQs


Next Steps

Please fill in the enquiry form on this page or call now on +44 (0)29 2054 0567