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Hair Analysis as a Drug Detector, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1995
4 pages
Publication Series
Data from 89 probationers in Florida were analyzed to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of testing hair samples for drug use.
Twenty-two correctional officers from divisions of the Florida Department of Corrections Probation Field Services voluntarily participated in the study. Each solicited volunteer probationers who were currently undergoing at least monthly urinalysis. A simple hair collection procedure was added to the officers' appointment routine, but no information on the outcome of the hair assays was used in any aspect of case management. Testing took place over a 6- month period and focused on cocaine, opiates, marijuana, and other drugs. Results revealed that hair analysis is a better indicator than urinalysis of cocaine use over an extended time period and can more accurately identify a chronic drug user. However, urinalysis is better able to measure short- term exposure to cocaine. Urinalysis seems to be a better way to detect opiates, particularly the presence of codeine. Hair assays are designed to detect morphine-based compound. Both hair and urine tests appear to be equally effective in detecting marijuana. Findings indicated that hair and urine testing can complement one another due to their capacity to expose different patterns of drug use. The field officers agreed that hair testing for drugs can be beneficial in their case management efforts and that gathering hair for tests was less difficult than collecting urine samples. Tables

Date Published: October 1, 1995