Using Hair to Test Teens for Drug Use. By Gary Patrone, Courtesy of The Arizona Republic.


Q: My 14 year old daughter seems moody lately. Sometimes she appears overly animated, bordering on paranoia, and other times she seems lethargic and sleeps a lot.  She has a new set of friends at school and I’m beginning to suspect drug use. I don’t want to damage the trust we’ve established, but I am concerned about her and need to be sure she is not heading toward trouble. If I can get some hair from her hairbrush, can you test it for drugs?


A: My first reaction is to suggest you load her up in the car, drive her down to the Lab and get her tested straight away. After all, she is the minor and you are the parent. However, I understand the trust issue and the unpredictable reaction of a teenager, yearning for independence and demanding privacy.


Most Labs will not test a hair sample that has not been professionally collected from the donor. Protocol demands a strict chain of custody to ensure the sample is from a specific person and is not tampered with throughout the collection, packaging, shipping, handling and testing process.


There are Labs that will test for drugs, toxins and heavy metals taken from anywhere (floor, counter, hairbrush, etc.) without regard to their origin. The test results are as conclusive as if the sample was properly collected from an identified donor. However, since there is no certainty of origin of hair samples taken from a hairbrush, it cannot be used beyond general information. Perhaps it will provide just enough information for a father concerned for the health and social activities of his 14 year old daughter. I might also suggest you listen for key words like Spice and Bath Salts. These are new drugs entering the Valley and will be the topic of a future column.

Reach Gary Patrone, CEO of SonicTest Labs, at


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