Can hair testing show drug and alcohol use over time?

Courts will often ask for information showing a client’s pattern of drug or alcohol consumption and an indication of whether this has increased or decreased over a given period. We are often asked whether hair testing can show changes in drug or alcohol use over time. The short answer is yes, it can. 

The slightly longer answer is that there are different types of hair testing, each giving a picture of drug or alcohol use over different time periods. Tyson Thomas, a Reporting Scientist here at Cansford Laboratories, looks at these methods ahead of our free webinar on 1st June, where he will explore this topic in more detail.

Hair testing methods

There are two hair testing methods used in the UK – overview and segmented.

Overview hair testing gives a general indication of drug or alcohol use throughout a defined testing period, depending on the length of hair selected. An overview analysis will cover a whole section and identify drug use within that period. For instance, a 3cm overview can provide an integrated average result of use over the entire three-month period but will not specify trends of use within that time.

Segmentation gives a more detailed analysis of use over time. It provides a month by month breakdown, giving a more detailed history of a person’s drug or alcohol use. It is recommended in cases where drugs or alcohol have been used within or close to a particular time frame of the analysis, and evidence is needed that drug or alcohol use has recently stopped.

Painting an accurate picture of drug or alcohol use

When decisions are being made in court that can have an enormous impact on children and families’ futures, getting the most accurate picture of drug or alcohol use is vital. Join us on 1st June for a free webinar exploring the benefits of segmentation testing for your clients.

As well as answering frequently asked questions on this topic, we’ll will share a case study showing the impact of segmentation in family law cases. Book your place here.

This article was submitted to be published by Cansford Laboratories as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Family Lawyer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Family Lawyer.

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