Will I pass a drug test?
January 17, 2012 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Am I going to pass this damn drug test?

Hey, folks. I've been working at a place for two months. When I was hired, I was told there would be drug tests. I assumed they meant urine tests. Now I'm finding out that there are actually hair follicle tests.

The last time I smoked weed was November 6. I haven't been able to find out exactly when the test is going to be. I also take (prescription) stimulants for ADD. I'm freaking out now, because I think that if I'm tested, I may lose this job. I can't stop worrying!

Here are my questions:

1. Will smoking once 72 days ago fail me? I smoked a few bowls that day. Prior to that time, I had smoked about once a week for a few months.

2. When they give follicle tests in the workplace, do they typically give people a few months notice? They don't _really_ want to fire people, you know?

3. Has anyone in similar circumstances been able to beat drug tests?

4. How do companies do it if you're absent the day of the test?

5. Does it really only test for 90 days? Do some places test for longer?

6. What if, say a woman smokes 6 months ago, and she has really long hair?

7. Will the fact that the period of my drug use was prior to employment affect things? They hired me...why would they go through the trouble of firing me so quickly? Do some places do a trial period?

8. What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When they give follicle tests in the workplace, do they typically give people a few months notice?

If you're in a union, you might want to ask them. This is something unions can and do negotiate.

How do companies do it if you're absent the day of the test?

The place I used to work made you take another one within a short time (a week or less, IIRC.) Miss the second one and you're canned.
posted by griphus at 5:28 PM on January 17, 2012

As I understand it, they haven't given a day when you will get a test, it will just be an abstract day in the future, correct? Or am I misunderstanding?

Are you a man or a woman? Would it be acceptable if you/would you be willing to just get a crew cut? I assume that would eliminate most/all incriminating proof...
posted by R a c h e l at 5:29 PM on January 17, 2012

As far as shaving your head bald, if the co is determined to do a hair test, they can also collect samples from the hair down there.
posted by jamaro at 5:35 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need to tell the drug testing people about your prescriptions which may make you test positive up front. It's probably best if you bring in prescription bottles or a copy of the prescription(s) themselves. It would be highly illegal in the U.S. in most circumstances to fire you or deny you a job based on taking medication which you are legally prescribed.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 5:35 PM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Unless your prescription meds are disallowed for your job, then you may be protected by FERPA for prescribed medication. Ask the doc who prescribed it.

Get a haircut. Clippers can be set to leave @ 3/4 in. of hair, which would get rid of anything sketchy, and still provide hair for testing. Sooner you cut it, the more relaxed you'll feel.

Please don't feel like a horrible criminal for smoking some pot; it's unfortunate that you are in this position.
posted by theora55 at 5:40 PM on January 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

Hair grows about half an inch per month. You last smoked more than two months ago. Get your hair cut to 3/4 of an inch as suggested and you should have plenty of room for error.
posted by bonehead at 5:52 PM on January 17, 2012

Yes, get a haircut. If your hair grows at an average rate, you have about an inch of clean growth that's come in since November 6, so a regular short men's haircut should be fine. (Short on the sides, keep a little length on the top - that's almost always flattering.) You might want to...ahem....shave other body parts just to be on the safe side. Luckily, dudes do this now, so you can always say that it's a personal practice if, though some unspeakable situation of horror, you get asked.

They probably don't want to fire you if you're doing a good job, and will be only too delighted if you manage your hair such that there is no reason to fire you.

Also? This is grotesquely invasive and awful, and I'm sorry it's happening. It's downright science fiction dystopian, isn't it, that you have to provide body leavings for them to check out?
posted by Frowner at 5:55 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Past askmefi posts indicate that they take an inch and a half of hair. Hair grows at the rate of 1/2 inch per month. If there are no 1.5 inch hairs available on your head, make sure you do some serious manscaping or womanscaping. I'm just wondering if there's some way to get hair out of you if you've seriously groomed (but not shaved) all of your body to be way beneath an inch and a half. Could they just take a bunch of your short armpit hairs instead of one long one? Nowadays, it's not unusual for men to have nearly everything shaved, so I'm wondering what they've done for this situation. It wouldn't be too impossible or odd to get your hair down to this length if you're a woman, either.

Good luck.
posted by shushufindi at 6:12 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here is the relevant page in Erowid's drug test vault.
posted by The White Hat at 7:06 PM on January 17, 2012

6. What if, say a woman smokes 6 months ago, and she has really long hair?

I think OP is likely female. With that said, you could still do a close cut. If you have long hair, donate it to Locks of Love. Minimum donation length is 10", you can just say you wanted it to be a significant donation. Hair grows surprisingly fast, you can wear a hat this winter (if you're in the northern hemisphere, that is) and have a cute short shag by early this summer. Have fun with it!
posted by arnicae at 8:21 PM on January 17, 2012

Nthing a haircut. Even if you're female and in love with your locks, short hair > No Job.
posted by zug at 8:24 PM on January 17, 2012

I've been through this and passed when I got a government contract. I had been a daily smoker for years when they told me I was up for a hair test. I put it off for about 45 days. I did a lot of research on this, and this is nothing more than my recollection of that research (this is not legal or medical advice):
These tests are biased for people with fine blonde hair.
These are biased against people with thick dark hair.
This test is only "reliable" for 90 days. When they took my sample, they actually cut it down to a certain length before packaging it for the lab. They are less reliable for distant use.
The metabolites they test for are stored in the cortex of the hair.
Mess up the cortex, and you can mess up the results.
You can use a special treatment from a headshop to help pass. They do kind of help by messing up the cortex. Based on my (questionable) research, I went with Zydot brand because it seemed to have the highest number of people claiming success on the stoner forums I wound up reading for this info.
Not sure if it had anything to do with it, but I also purchased the harshest shampoos I could find and used all three of them every time I washed my hair (twice a day for the purposes of this exercise).
If you're truly desperate, and can afford it, you can bleach and redye your hair. It shouldn't be to hard to find a salon where you can be honest about your intentions and they will gladly help you. You'll know it when you find it.
Odds are good you'll be fine. Grab a treatment from the headshop if you're worried, but I wouldn't sweat it too much, especially if you have lighter fairer hair. I've got coarse dark hair, and had no trouble, though after the harsh shampooing and Zydot my hair was a teeny bit lighter but only a stylist friend noticed.
posted by slartibartfast at 10:32 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

My gf occasionally eats marijuana goodies, and has passed the hair test twice at her current job by using the shampoo they sell at head shops. It something of a pain in the ass to follow the directions exactly, but it worked.

I've also known occasional users who passed by getting their hair stripped and dyed back to their original color the day of the test.

OTOH, my roommate -- who smokes all day, every day -- has failed repeatedly using both these techniques.

I think the occasional smoker is much, much less likely to get caught than an everyday user. You should be fine.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:01 AM on January 18, 2012

A hair dresser turned me on to this. She said they use it to strip medication from old ladies' hair before dyeing. It's cheaper and way more legit than head shop stuff.
posted by just sayin at 10:46 AM on January 18, 2012


Dang. Need to figure out how to link from phone...
posted by just sayin at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2012

Gah. The product is Nexxus Aloe Rid.
posted by just sayin at 10:49 AM on January 18, 2012

From what I've read, Aloe Rid changed their formula a few years ago. It used to work for this, but that's no longer the case. I can't say for sure either way though, this was something I read about too though.
posted by slartibartfast at 1:26 PM on January 18, 2012

I take amphetamine-based ADD/ADHD drugs and freaked out about false meth positives during my last drug test. I told the head of HR that I was taking a medication that can lead to false positives, and said the same thing at the lab, and both told me that they'd ask for more details if any issues arose but that they didn't want details yet. They never asked for more information and I got the job.

Later on, however, I learned that positives related to medication are very common, and that most labs will allow proof of a legitimate prescription overrule a positive amphetamines finding in this situation.

Can't help you with the pot, but stop worrying about the ADD stuff.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:30 PM on January 18, 2012

The THC is a oil soluble which means that it will trake around 2-3 months to be removed from you body.
posted by BobS13 at 4:55 PM on February 18, 2012

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