Hair Tests for Alcohol


Do hair tests for alcohol exist? If so, are they reliable and can they detect alcohol consumption?

An Examination of a Person's Hair Can Detect Drug and Alcohol Use for Many Months

An analysis of a person's hair can result in a significantly longer testing window for the detection of drugs and drug metabolites.

This provides a more complete alcohol and drug-use history that can go back in time as far as many months.


Similar to urine testing, hair testing does not reveal evidence of current impairment, only past use of a specific drug.

And of special note, hair testing until recently could not be used to detect alcohol.

Hair Drug Tests have the following characteristics:

  • They are currently many times more costly than urine tests.

  • They are a relatively non-intrusive method of drug and alcohol testing.

  • They detect substance use over a longer period of time.

  • They do not usually detect drug or alcohol use within the past seven days.

  • They require a sample of hair approximately the diameter of a pencil and about 1.5 inches long.

  • They cannot be done with a single hair.

  • They reveal positive test results more than twice as often as urine tests.

  • They are not significantly affected by brief periods of abstinence from drugs or alcohol.

  • They can sometimes be used to determine when drug use started and if it has been discontinued.

Can hair testing be defeated or beaten? No adulterants have been found that can beat hair tests for drugs. Plus, the risk is minimized due to the fact that every collection is directly and easily observed.

Some Benefits and Advantages of Hair Tests for Drug Screening

Hair Tests Pros

The following represents some of the positive features of hair tests:

  • They have a longer window of detection.

  • They offer greater stability (i.e, they do not deteriorate).

  • They can detect chronic drug and/or alcohol use.

  • They provide convenient shipping and storage, since they do not require refrigeration.

  • They off a collection procedure that is not invasive or embarrassing.

  • They are more difficult to adulterate than urine.

  • They detect the combined use of alcohol AND cocaine.

  • They can provide a many month drug and alcohol usage history.

Hair Tests Cons

The following represents some of the negative features of hair tests:

  • They are relatively expensive.

  • They are usually limited to basic 5-drug panel.

  • They can not detect very recent drug use (i.e., usage from 1 to 7 days before the test).


Conclusion: Hair Tests for Alcohol

While hair tests have been a reliable and accurate instrument for drug testing for many years, hair tests for alcohol have recently become appropriate for alcohol screening and testing because they now can detect alcohol.