Hair Drug Testing

Hair Drug Testing for illegal drugs, Psychoactive Substances (‘Legal Highs’), Spice and substances of abuse

  • Legally defensible Analysis Results and Expert Reports accepted in every UK family court issued in 5 working days or less
  • Quality assured ISO 17025 UKAS accredited testing and analysis in accordance with the Society of Hair Testing internationally agreed standards
  • A dedicated Client Support team to manage your case from start to finish committed to meeting your deadlines
  • Direct contact with our experts with over 50 years combined experience in hair drug and alcohol testing
  • Competitive pricing in accordance with LAA codified rates

Hair Drug Testing Explained

Hair grows at an average rate of 1cm per month; therefore a 3cm section of scalp hair can provide an approximate 3 month retrospective profile of drug use. Due to the growth rate, hair provides a unique window of detection covering months rather than days that urine or oral fluid analysis can show.

When a drug enters the body, it is transported via the blood stream and incorporated into the hair follicle. As the hair grows, it incorporates trace amounts of drugs in the hair shaft. To avoid confusion, we analyse samples of the hair strand for traces of drugs, not the hair follicle. The hair follicle is a small tubular cavity within the skin that contains the root of the hair.

Our experts analyse hair samples to detect these trace amounts of drugs and their metabolites (a substance produced by the body when a drug is taken and can be used to show direct usage). From our laboratory analysis we can provide an expert interpretation on the levels of drugs detected, all in 5 working days or less of receiving the hair sample.

Can body hair be used for drug testing?

If no scalp hair is available, then body hair or facial hair can be used. Body and facial hair grow at the same average rate of 1cm per month, however it has a different growth cycle to that of scalp hair, meaning that a greater proportion of the hair remains on the body or face in its resting (non-growing) or telogen phase. For this reason, body or facial hair samples are analysed as a whole sample and are unable to be segmented into a month by month analysis.

For more information or advice on our hair drug testing services, please call us on 029 2048 4141 or email experts@lextox.co.uk

Month by Month or Overview Analysis?
By segmenting scalp hair samples into monthly 1cm sections, a month by month profile of drug use can be attained. This segmental analysis can help to show a trend (i.e. increase or decrease) of use, or help to highlight low level instances. As an example; a 3 month section of scalp hair can be broken down into monthly sections to show an individual result covering March, a separate result covering February and another result covering January.

An overview analysis will cover a whole 3cm (3 month) section and will identify drug use within that 3 month time period. Consecutive sections of either 1cm (1 month) or 3cm (3 months) can be used to assess drug use for as long as the hair is, i.e. a hair sample 12cm in length can profile 12 months of drug use.

Body hair samples are unsuitable for sectional month by month analysis.
Psychoactive Substances ('Legal Highs') and Spice Testing
Our Laboratory Director has been developing and implementing methods for the detection of substances in hair specifically for family law and child care proceedings for over 12 years. His knowledge and expertise have allowed Lextox to develop a hair test for Psychoactive Substances (‘Legal Highs’). We are able to detect over 45 Psychoactive Substances in hair, including synthetic cathinones (bath salts) and spice (synthetic cannabinoids).

Psychoactive Substances ('Legal Highs') are substances that are controlled by the Psychoactive Substances Act and are manufactured to induce similar effects to those that illegal drugs produce.

The use of Psychoactive Substances ('Legal Highs') by individuals has become more and more prolific. However, what many do not know is that a large majority of these "drugs" can contain substances which often fall into the Class A category of drugs in the United Kingdom.

Individuals often purchase these drugs knowing nothing other than their street/slang names and are unaware of the substances and compounds that have been used to create them. Users of these synthetic drugs do not always realise the often fatal side-effects that they can have on the human body.

Hair Drug Detection List

Amphetamine
Street names: Speed, Whizz, Base, Billy, Sulph.

Class B, Class A if prepared for injection.

Amphetamine is a stimulant drug that increases alertness, concentration, sociability and energy of the user as well as providing feelings of euphoria.

Medically, amphetamine is used in Dexedrine (as dexamphetamine sulphate) to help alleviate people from suddenly falling asleep, a condition called narcolepsy.

The illegal form known as speed, is an off-white or pinkish powder, with the ‘base’ form taking a more solid appearance and is often purer. Speed can be taken orally be rubbing on the gums or teeth, snorted or mixed with drinks. When prepared for injections the effects are quicker and cause rapid high blood levels.

The use of speed can lead to depression, anxiety, irritability and aggression as well as causing feelings of paranoia and psychosis.
Antidepressants
The antidepressants drug group is a group of prescription drugs that are used in the treatment to alleviate depression and anxiety. A hair drug test for the antidepressants drug group includes fluoxetine (Prozac), trazadone and clozapine.
Anti-Epileptics
Gabapentin

Gabapentin is used to treat seizures such as epilepsy but can also be used to treat nerve pain and occasionally migraines. Gabapentin is a prescription only medication available in capsule, tablet or liquid form.

Pregabalin

Pregabalin is used to treat seizures such as epilepsy but may also be used to treat anxiety and nerve pain. Pregabalin is a prescription only medication available in capsule or liquid form.
Benzodiazepines
Street names: Benzos, Roofies, Downers, Vallies.

Prescription only under the Medicines Act. They are also controlled as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Benzodiazepines are a group of tranquilizers that are prescribed to reduce anxiety and promote calmness, relaxation and sleep. Benzodiazepines are psychologically and physically addictive and, as tolerance increases over time, users have to increase their dose to get the same effect. They’re often used as chill out drugs and some people use them to come down after taking speed or ecstasy.

The benzodiazepines that we are able to detect include desmethyldiazepam, diazepam (Valium), oxazepam, temazepam, nitrazepam and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol). A benzodiazepine hair test will include the detection of all the above listed drugs within 5 working days of receiving the sample.


Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam)

Street names: Roofies, date rape drug.

Class C, it can only be obtained through a private prescription.

Rohypnol (trade name for flunitrazepam) is a legitimate prescribed tranquiliser used in the treatment of sleep disorders.

Its illegal use has more commonly termed the drug as a date rape drug due to it being un-detected in drinks and its fast sedative effects. The effects can be felt within 20-30 minutes and the ‘victim’ can feel a sense of euphoria, pass out and experience short-term memory loss.

Regular use of Rohypnol can cause dependence and the withdrawal symptoms include headaches, irritability, muscle pain and anxiety.

A hair test for Rohypnol should be used with caution. A single use of the drug may not be detectable due to the speed in which the drug is removed from the body and thus the small amount of the drug present in the hair. The hair drug test should be used to attempt to detect regular use of Rohypnol.
Buprenorphine (Subutex)
Street names: Subbies, Temmies.

Buprenorphine (Subutex) is a prescription drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction. It is a synthetic opiate that has similar effects to that of heroin or methadone; however the effects aren’t as great. At low doses, buprenorphine produces a sufficient effect to enable heroin addicted individuals to cease using heroin without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Buprenorphine (Subutex) can be abused and can be obtained illegally. It is commonly prescribed in a tablet form; however it can be crushed to be injected or inhaled. Using buprenorphine in conjunction with methadone can enhance the effects of both drugs.
Cannabis
Street names: Dope, Draw, Ganja, Grass, Hash, Hashish, Hemp, Herb, Marijuana, Pot, Puff.

Class B

Cannabis is a naturally occurring drug made from parts of the cannabis plant. It has mild sedative affects that can cause feelings of relaxation and calmness, however it is also a mild hallucinogenic. Whilst under the influence of cannabis, short-term memory, concentration, and intellectual or manual dexterity, including driving may be affected. Perceptual distortion, forgetfulness and confusion of thought processes can be experienced with higher doses.

Psychologically, cannabis use may cause paranoia and anxiety. Regular use of cannabis may cause the user to have difficulty quitting and may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

The main active compound is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). A hair drug test for cannabis will look for THC as well as two metabolites (substances that are produced by the body when the drug is taken and can be used to indicate direct usage) which are 11 Nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-THC and 11-Hydroxy-delta-9-THC, as well as one constituent of the cannabis plant, cannabinol.
Cathinone
Street names: Khat, quat, qat, qaadka, chat.

The Khat plant is not controlled under the misuse of drugs act, however the active ingredients cathinone and cathine are Class C drugs.

Cathinone (Khat) is the active ingredient of the Khat plant and it is a stimulant drug with similar effects to amphetamine.

The Khat plant originates in Africa, however it is becoming more common in Europe.

Chewing the leaves of the Khat plant makes people feel more talkative and alert with a calming effect if chewed over a few hours. Khat suppresses the appetite, and long term use may cause insomnia, anorexia, anxiety as well as depression and paranoia.
Cocaine
Street names: Coke, Charlie, Snow, C, Crack.

Class A

Cocaine is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant and is a stimulant drug of the central nervous system similar to that of amphetamines, however the effects are stronger but don’t last as long. It increases alertness, feelings of well-being and euphoria, energy and activity.

High doses of cocaine can raise the body’s temperature, cause convulsions and respiratory or heart failure. The risk of overdosing increases if crack cocaine is mixed with heroin or alcohol. Long term regular use of cocaine can cause problems with anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks.

A hair drug test for cocaine will also look for:

Benzoylecgonine – a metabolite of cocaine that can be used to indicate use.
AEME – a substance that is produced when cocaine is burnt and thus indicative of crack cocaine use.
Cocaethylene – a substance that is produced when alcohol and cocaine are taken together. Cocaethylene has a very similar effect to that of cocaine however the feelings of euphoria can be stronger and more prolonged than that of cocaine.
Ketamine
Street names: Special K, Green K, Super K, Vitamin K

Class B

Ketamine is a strong anaesthetic drug that medically is used during operations on humans and animals.

Recreationally, ketamine when used in smaller doses can provide euphoric feelings and waves of energy. Larger doses can cause hallucinations similar to that of LSD. If high enough doses are taken, the aesthetic properties of ketamine can come into effect causing unconsciousness or even death.

Ketamine can be particularly dangerous if used with depressant drugs such as alcohol, heroin and tranquilisers such as benzodiazepines , as it can adversely affect the functioning of the heart and lungs.
LSD
Street names: Acid, blotter, cheer, dots, drop, flash, hawk, L, paper mushrooms, rainbow, tabs.

Class A

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a hallucinogenic drug derived from the fungus ergot, which can be found growing on rye and other grasses.

As a street drug LSD is often in a liquid form that is dropped onto paper sheets or sugar cubes. The paper sheets are cut into tiny squares like postage stamps and often have pictures or designs on them. The effect of LSD is dose dependent, and the user will not know how strong it is until it is taken.

The experience that LSD provides is referred to as a trip. Trips can be good or bad and are dependent on mood, surroundings and how comfortable a user feels. A trip can last up to 12 hours and once it has started it cannot be stopped. A good trip can leave the user with feelings of euphoria spirituality and at peace. If the user experiences panic during a trip the experience can be confusing and terrifying as well as violent.
Mephedrone
Street names: MC, MCAT, 4-MMC, Miaow, Meow Meow, Bubbles.

Class B

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) is a stimulant drug that is chemically similar to that of amphetamines. First sold as a ‘legal high’ under the guise of plant food, mephedrone became an illegal Class B drug in April 2010.

Mephedrone is derived from cathinone (which is the same chemical that is found in the plant Khat). It has similar euphoric and alertness properties to that of amphetamines and cocaine, however it can also cause anxiety, paranoia and risk of over stimulating the heart.

There is developing evidence on the use and risk of death from using mephedrone.
Methadone
Street names: Meth, Linctus

Class A

Methadone is a synthetic opiate that is used medically as a heroin substitute in the treatment of heroin dependence. Although methadone is chemically dissimilar to that of heroin and morphine it has many of the same effects. However it doesn’t create the same buzz that is experienced with heroin use and as such it is used to help overcome the psychological dependence of heroin.

During treatment, methadone is used to help with the withdrawal symptoms of heroin and subsequently the dose can be reduced to such a point that the user is off heroin.

A hair drug test for methadone also includes its metabolite EDDP, the presence of which can indicate direct usage of methadone.
Methamphetamines
The methamphetamines drug group looks for a number of stimulant drugs that are psychoactive and affect the nervous system.


Ecstasy

Street names: Ecstasy, E, Pills.

Class A

Ecstasy is a white crystalline powder known to chemists as MDMA; however it is more commonly sold in a tablet form. Ecstasy provides the user with a sense or euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others and reduced anxiety. Side effects of use can include anxiety, panic attacks, confusion and paranoid or psychotic states.

Our test looks for MDMA as well as its metabolite MDA, which is used to show direct usage.


Methamphetamine

Street names: Crystal Meth, Ice.

Class A

Methamphetamine (crystal meth) is a stimulant of the central nervous system with a high potential for misuse and dependence. It is a synthetic drug which is chemically similar to amphetamine (speed); however the effects it has are much stronger.

Methamphetamine takes the form of a whitish odourless crystalline powder, readily soluble in water or alcohol, however can also be produced in tablet or powder form. It can be smoked, injected, snorted or consumed orally.

Its euphoric effects are similar to but more intense and longer lasting than those of cocaine so it’s an extremely powerful and addictive stimulant.
Long term methamphetamine use can cause depression and feelings of suicide as well as serious heart disease, psychosis, anxiety and violent tendencies.
Opiates
Opiates are a group of drugs that contain constituents derived from the opium poppy plant. A hair test for the opiates drug group will look for 6-MAM (a heroin specific metabolite used to show heroin use), morphine, codeine (found in over the counter pain relief remedies) and dihydrocodeine (found in over the counter pain relief remedies).


Heroin

Street names: Brown, H, Smack.

Class A

Heroin is made from morphine and is a very strong painkiller. Street heroin is usually an off white or brownish powder whereas medicinally heroin is either tablet or an injectable liquid.

Heroin can provide the user with a sense of relaxation and warmth, with a reduction in physical and psychological pain. Heroin is highly addictive and the user can build a tolerance to the drug thus having to use more and more each time to get the same effect. Often all the user can focus on is obtaining the next heroin hit.


Morphine

Morphine is a natural opioid used to treat acute and severe pain. It acts directly on the central nervous system to relieve pain. Morphine has a high potential for addiction, tolerance and psychological dependence develop rapidly, although physical dependence may take several months to develop.


Codeine

Codeine is used to treat mild to moderate pain and is found in many over the counter pain relief remedies.


Dihydrocodeine

Dihydrocodeine is a semi-synthetic opioid and is used to treat mild to moderate pain. Like codeine it can be found in many prescription and over the counter pain relief remedies.
PCP
Street names: Angel dust.

Class A

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a synthetic drug that was initially manufactured as a veterinary anaesthetic.

It is a very powerful drug that can have a number of effects on the user including distortion of the senses, mood and experience of time, dreamlike states, euphoria, depression, panic attacks, paranoia and aggressive, sometimes violent behaviour.
Psychoactive Substances ('Legal Highs') and Spice (Synthetic Cannabinoids)
Psychoactive Substances (‘Legal Highs’)

Psychoactive Substances (‘Legal Highs’) are substances that are taken for their euphoric effects. These drugs are often sold as ‘research chemicals’, ‘bath salts’ or ‘not for human consumption’.

These compounds are now controlled under the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Lextox detect 38 different compounds that may be present in Psychoactive Substances.

Please contact us for more information.

Spice (Synthetic Cannabinoids)

Spice is a group of synthetic cannabis compounds which are usually sprayed onto plant material or natural herbs and mimic the effects of cannabis. These compounds do not produce positive results for drugs and metabolites within the Lextox cannabis drug group.

These are often marketed as "herbal incense"; however, some brands market their products as "herbal smoking blends". These compounds are now controlled under the Psychoactive Substances Bill. Street names include spice, K2 and black mamba.

Lextox currently test for 9 spice compounds.
Tramadol
Tramadol is a prescribed synthetic drug that is used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain relief.
Zolpidem (Hypnotic)
The hypnotic drug group is a group of tranquilisers that are used to promote sleep and aid in the treatment of insomnia. The drug group includes zolpidem. They are not a benzodiazepine, however they act on the same areas of the brain.