Dr. Robert Bennett    -   Charleston DNA
M E D I C AL  -  L E G A L  -  F O R E N S I C
DNA - Drug - Alcohol - Paternity - Forensic testing
                 RobertBennettPhD@gmail.com                         (843) 571-7488             


 

Forensic Hair Testing for Substances of Abuse
Dr. Bennett offers hair testing for time periods of between two weeks to 6 months or more, and any time period in between.

The Testing Process


Step 1- Specimen Collection: The specimen collection process is a critical component in the testing process. The collector must be aware that there is considerable incentive of the person being tested to make the outcome of the test NEGATIVE. Consequences of a POSITIVE test in court cases can be severe. Care must be exercised to insure identification of the person being tested. We employ two methods to check Photo ID and we take a photograph that is printed directly on the report. Many potential problems exist with hair collection. Hair can be adulterated, damaged, or contaminated prior to arriving for the drug test (bleached, permed, special shampoos). Hair can be substituted with weaves and extensions. Hair can be of various lengths and represent various time periods.


Once a proper specimen is collected, it must be processed in a manner to avoid specimen mix-up with another, contamination by the collector, and contamination by certain instruments used in the collection process that may have been used on a previous person that was positive for drug use. Chain-of-custody must be initiated and the specimen must be sealed in individual tamper evident packaging and protected at all times until tested at the laboratory. Hair specimen collections must be performed by a skilled, experienced hair specimen collector knowledge of the variables and issues and know which hair to collect and how to collect.


Step 2-Laboratory Testing: The laboratory takes little responsibility other than testing the specimen provided, as is, and performing the test requested. The laboratory has no knowledge of the case parameters, how the specimen was collected, or how the results of the laboratory findings will be used or interpreted. The laboratory only reports the findings of the laboratory analysis. Few drug testing providers are aware that there are differences in hair drug tests. Most all facilities use a standard "workplace" drug test. This test is designed to prevent drug addicts from being hired on the job. Unfortunately, this type of testing is also unknowingly being used in forensic cases. The hair drug testing performed through our office is a "forensic-level" drug test. This test analyzes the hair for more drugs and at lower levels. This test is more discerning, more sensitive, and more inclusive. Since this level of testing better determines the true state of involvement with drugs by the person being tested, it is considered more accurate. We can also test for prescription drugs of abuse.


Step 3-Interpretation of Laboratory Findings: It is critically important that the laboratory findings be interpreted by a Toxicologist in order to determine the meaning of the laboratory findings, i.e. whether or not drug abuse has occurred, and to what extent. Examples of non-drug abuse are: (1) Cocaine is routinely used for nasal surgery and certain nasal procedures. (2) Marijuana (THC) is available as a prescription drug known as Marinol for the treatment of nausea, cancer, and HIV. (3) The prescription drug Benzphetamine converts to methamphetamine in the body. None of these cases would be classified as drug abuse. A toxicologist is a professional skilled to perform interpretation of drug test laboratory findings. All drug tests should be evaluated by a toxicologist.


Additionally, we are the ONLY provider that can perform Segmental Hair Analysis of various time periods e.g. 1 month, 6 months, 3 months before the most recent one month, and so forth. The cost of the test is $155 and includes the comprehensive work up of hair examination, testing and interpretation. The hair specimen can be collected in one of our offices nationwide. Results are typically available in one to three days.