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Hair analysis for the detection of drug use – is there potential for evasion?

Marrinan, Shanna, Roman-Urrestarazu, Andres, Naughton, Declan, Levari, Ermelinda, Collins, John, Chilcott, Robert, Bersani, Giuseppe and Corazza, Ornella (2017) Hair analysis for the detection of drug use – is there potential for evasion? Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 32 (3). e2587. ISSN 1099-1077

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Identification Number: 10.1002/hup.2587


Background: Hair analysis for illicit substances is widely used to detect chronic drug consumption or abstention from drugs. Testees are increasingly seeking ways to avoid detection by using a variety of untested adulterant products (e.g. shampoos, cleansers) widely sold online. This study aims to investigate adulteration of hair samples and to assess effectiveness of such methods. Methods: The literature on hair test evasion was searched for on PubMed/MEDLINE, Psycinfo, and Google Scholar. Given the sparse nature of peer-reviewed data on this subject, results were integrated with a qualitative assessment of online sources, including user-orientated information/commercial websites, drug fora and ‘chat rooms’. Over four million web sources were identified in a Google search by using ‘beat hair drug test’ and the first 86 were monitored on regular basis and considered for further analysis. Results: Attempts to influence hair test results are widespread. Various ‘shampoos’, ‘cleansers’ among other products, were found for sale, which claim to remove analytes. Often advertised with aggressive marketing strategies, which include discounts, testimonials and unsupported claims of efficacy. However, these products may pose serious health hazards and are also potentially toxic. In addition, many anecdotal reports suggest that Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are also consumed as an evasion technique, as these are not easily detectable via standard drug test. Recent changes on NPS legislations such as New Psychoactive Bill in the UK might further challenge the testing process. Conclusion: Further research is needed by way of chemical analysis and trial of the adulterant products sold online and their effects as well as the development of more sophisticated hair testing techniques.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Divisions: IGA: LSE IDEAS
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2017 12:25
Last Modified: 22 May 2024 16:03

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