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How can I prove I am no longer using substances?

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Hair strand testing is often used in care proceedings where there are concerns that parents are or have been using illegal substances.

Hair strand testing is used in both public and private children proceedings. Hair strand testing can be paid for privately or through Legal Aid.

A hair strand test will test for drug use, the misuse of prescription medication and or/alcohol. During this test, a small amount of hair will be removed from your head using scissors. As hair grows at an average rate of 1cm per month, a 3cm section of scalp hair can provide an approximate reading for drug use during the previous 3 months. If no scalp hair is available, body or facial hair can be used as they grow at the same average rate of 1cm per month. It is not recommended that you dye your hair or use styling products before the sample is taken as this may affect the reliability of the results.

A hair strand test can test for:

  • Amphetamine
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-Epileptics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex)
  • Cannabis
  • Cathinone
  • Cocaine
  • Ketamine
  • LSD
  • Mephedrone
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamines
  • Opiates
  • PCP
  • Psychoactive Substances (“Legal Highs”) and Spice (Synthetic Cannabinoids)
  • Tramadol
  • Zolpidem (Hypnotic)
  • Alcohol

Hair strand testing is usually ordered by the Court where there is a suggestion that a parent has been using illegal substances and it is not uncommon for the Court to order that the test be carried out before they determine whether the parent can safely care for their child or the amount of time a parent can spend with their child.

Whether a parent can safely care for their child or should not have contact with a child where hair strand testing is ordered depends on:

  • The type of drugs being taken
  • The level of usage
  • The impact of that parent being able to provide safe and appropriate care for the child.

The Court’s main consideration is the welfare of the child and where a hair strand test is positive this often results in parents having supervised contact on a temporary basis until they can overcome their addiction.

Although hair strand test is only an indication of consumption, the tests results are to be used as a guideline for further investigation. If your test is positive, your results will often be in a category of low, medium or high use of drugs.

When testing for alcohol consumption the hair strand test will be completed as well as a blood test which together will confirm whether there is evidence of chronic excessive consumption of alcohol and evidence of any changes to liver function.

A hair strand test can only take place during Court proceedings if the Court orders it to. The test results can be used as evidence during the proceedings. In some cases, hair strands tests can be arranged pre-proceedings.

It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible within proceedings or pre-proceedings to explore issues at an early stage before test results are received.

There are a number of providers who will perform hair strand testing and it is important that the provider is a reputable company. Drug and alcohol testing samples do not need to be taken at a doctor’s surgery, they can be taken at either our Leicester of Loughborough office or from another convenient venue.

Here at Emery Johnson Astills, we understand that it can be distressing when there is Local Authority involvement with your child. Our Care Team are specialists in providing expert legal advice in relation to any Local Authority involvement in a person’s life. If you require some advice in this area, then please do not hesitate to call us on 0116 2554855 to discuss how we may be able to assist you.