• 08-12-2008: The Ottawa Herald

    New product confirms drug use by testing hair
    By Jole Sammons, Wellsville High School
     

    Teens tend to hide many things from their parents. Now, they are hiding their hair.

    It may seem like an odd thing to hide but guess what? Parents can check if their kids are using drugs by gathering their child’s hair strands.

    A new product, HairConfirm, is available to parents who send in a lock of hair, or 90 strands, to a lab. The service checks to see what drugs and what percentage of drugs an individual has in their body. HairConfirm can also tell how addicted a person is to a certain drug and how much of a habit it has become for that person.

    HairConfirm also has usage group categories. They are:

    – Low-user, which would be someone who occasionally partakes in using the drug.

    -Medium-user, using several times a month.

    – High-user, someone who uses it daily or is an addict.

    HairConfirm is surprisingly easy to find and not very expensive. It can be purchased on the Internet at Testcountry.com, Amazon.com or on its own Web site, www.hairconfirm.com/product where you can also read more about it. This drug testing kit can also be purchased at any CVS pharmacy.

    HairConfirm comes with instructions, a hair collecting kit and pre-paid shipping, which can be done overnight or within 24 to 48 hours. For all of this, the cost to the buyer is $69.95. A majority of buyers are parents.

    This new drug testing kit has been proven to work even better than urine testing because hair growth is fed by the blood stream. Drugs stay in a person’s blood stream up to 72 hours. Thus, one can see the recent ingestion of drugs through a strand of hair.

    One drawback of HairConfirm, however, is that it does not pick up marijuana use very well. This is because THC metabolite (a chemical byproduct or intermediary created during the process of breaking down foods or drugs in the body) does not bind with the hair shaft. This can be caused by the type or quality of marijuana that is smoked or if it is mixed with anything.

    Although it has this fault, it is still the most effective drug testing for long term use.

    Many parents said they would buy this product but only if they had a very good reason to believe their child was using drugs.

    Gene Anderson, Lee’s Summit, Mo., said, "Yes, I would, but only if my children were acting very strange or I had reason to believe they were using drugs."

    Many other parents agreed with Anderson, but some were hesitant on the subject.

    Sarah Coffman, Olathe, commented, "I’m not sure how I would feel about that. It seems like an invasion of privacy."

    It would be hard to make a decision on whether to test your child or not. It might be even harder if the parents do not agree upon what is acceptable and what is not. Anderson was very sure he would use HairConfirm, but his wife, Antoinette Anderson, wasn’t so sure.

    I also interviewed Maryann and John Tatman, originally from Olathe, to see whether they wished they had a product like this around when their children were teenagers in the 1970s.

    "I think this product is very good. It seems like it would help kids get help quicker, but it somewhat is an invasion of privacy. However, when it comes to your child’s safety, that is what matters most."

    According to www.hairconfirm.com, a test was conducted last June through December where 1,162 samples were gathered and only 869 were found to be negative. This testing sample seemed to find the most positive results with cocaine (14 percent). Methamphetamine then came in with 3.6 percent positive results, followed by 2.5 percent positive results for marijuana and 1.3 percent for Ecstasy. Other tests were still unreadable, because they did not have enough hair strands.

    Although many teenagers feel this is an invasion of their privacy, these tests are done privately and they are meant to provide some people with much needed help and counseling.

    Statistics at http://ncadi.samhsa.gov estimate that 2.4 million people tried marijuana for the first time in 2000. Cocaine use was estimated with 0.9 million new users. The Office of National Drug Control Policy also distributed a survey to an unnamed high school where 41.8 percent of the seniors admitted to using marijuana at some point in their life.

    With these statistics and so many young adults trying drugs, it is important to provide people with the help they may need, especially if it includes young teenagers.

    Jolene Sammons is a sophomore at Wellsville High School.

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    Categories: HairConfirm In the News

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