Drug Testing Hair Samples for Employment Screening

Well, if you’re in the hunt for a new job or want to keep your current one, and your potential or current employer tells you you’ll need to undergo drug screening beware: peeing in a cup may not suffice these days. Instead, you may have to give them a lock of your hair.

OK… that sucks.

Recently, that’s the situation one of my cNappymeNow.com members found herself subjected to and posted that she needed our support because she just had a lock of her hair cut for an employment drug screening.

Though upset, she was in no position to turn down the opportunity for employment, dispite the fact that she really did not want to comply in this manner.

When I read the post, I didn’t quite know what to make of it all, and I said as much in my initial response. I’d never heard of such. While most everyone needs a job, I could certainly understand her feelings and dilemma. What woman in the world wants to cut a lock of their hair, down to the scalp for a drug test? And to add more stress to this situation, if she gets the job, then as an employee, the company drug tests every six months.

After I thought about it, I became rather indignant about the whole thing. Surely there had to be an alternative, though one was not offered in her case, to cutting the hair on her head. What if she were a bald guy, or a guy OR a woman with a really close fade? Or what if your hair is loc’d? Then what? Couldn’t they use hair from another part of the body? And if that was OK for the bald guy, then surely there has to be an alternative for women or anyone else for that matter who don’t want to give up a lock of their hair for a drug test.

So what’s up with all of this? To find out, I did an Internet search and found a couple of sites that explains the hows, whys and wherefores of drug testing hair. According to About.com, testing hair is more accurate than traditional urine drug screens and can detect illicit substances in your system for up to three months. So since hair grows on average .5 inches a month, depending on the time frame in question, a lab may want about 50 hairs between 1/2 inch to 1.5 inches of hair from the root end.

Yikes.  I don’t know about y’all but I think that’s a lot of hair to give up, especially if you have to do so on a regular basis. So are you just SOL under the circumstances or are there alternatives to using scalp hair?

Well yes there are. According to ipassedmydrugtest.com, “body hair can be drug tested in lieu of scalp hair. The growth rates for body are considerably slower than the hair from your head. Most body hair is replaced in about one year. It is challenging to precisely represent the time period of a standard screen with body hair so substances may be detected in body hair for up to one year after the substance left the blood stream.”

So in other words, if you use body hair, instead of scalp hair, it may be contaminated with drugs for up to one year following the initial drug use. Definitetly something to think about. In response to my member’s post, I suggested taking a clean brush to use in the lab to gather shed hair. After checking various sources, it doesn’t appear that this would be acceptable, but I’d sure ask because it would be the easiest and least stressful way to give up some hair.

Bottom line, if you’re asked to take a drug screen, make sure you do some homework and make some inquiries so you don’t end up being surprised about how the test will be administered. If they’re testing hair, you may find that body hair is an acceptable option. But ultimately, as much as you may hate to, if you need the job, and there’s no other way around it, you’ll have to give up some of your hair. And for most, giving  up a small piece of your crown and glory is a small price to pay in exchange for a decent job — especially in this economy.

If you have more questions or want additional information, check out the additional resources below.





2 Responses to “Drug Testing Hair Samples for Employment Screening”
  1. b. says:

    Some years ago I had a similar dilemma. My hair was natural (still is) and short at the time. My supervisor usually cut the employee’s hair and sent it off with a form in a plastic lab bag. Neither of us trusted her to do this with my hair (who wants a big patch of hair missing? And who wants their hair cut with OFFICE SHEARS? I think that’s what she had…). She sent me directly to the lab. It was one of the usual labs used for testing and bloodwork. They cut my hair in an inconspicuous place and it wasn’t a big deal. I was apprehensive about it, but the area they cut wasn’t even noticeable.

    • nappyme says:

      See, I wear my hair in twists all the time. And when I twist my hair, I can tell when I have breakage that results in a thinner than normal twist. I can’t imagine missing a quarter-inch area of hair cut from the scalp. That’s a lot of hair to me. Perhaps I’m making to big a deal about this, but if I could give up body hair as opposed to scalp hair I certainly would.

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