Month-by-month hair strand testing is another term for a segmented hair drug test. This type of drug test permits a month-by-month profile of drug use to be attained.

As head hair grows at an average rate of 1 cm each month, by segmenting it into 1-cm sections any drug use can be established over a defined period. The period of analysis depends on the length of hair selected. For example, if a month-by-month hair strand test was to cover 3 months, a segmented analysis will provide 3 individual results for each of the months. In this way, a month-by-month hair strand test can be used to pinpoint the actual month in which the episode of drug taking occurred. In addition, it can highlight a trend in drug use – such as an increase or decrease in drug use over time – or prove intermittent drug use.

How does a month-by-month hair strand test work?

A month-by-month hair strand test works by measuring any drug molecules that are embedded inside a hair shaft.

Firstly, a sample collector discreetly cuts a strand of hair ideally from an individual’s highest point of their scalp, the vertex. The sample needs to contain around 200 individual strands (about the width of a pencil). When the hair samples arrive at AlphaBiolabs laboratory, they are accurately cut into 1-cm sections. These sections are then chemically washed three times to avoid any false positive results arising from environmental sources, such as from smoke or direct transfer by hands.

The month-by-month hair strand samples are then examined using a powerful analytical tool called liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS). This enables AlphaBiolabs to confirm and quantify the presence of illicit drugs and their various metabolites. The standard panel for a month-by-month drug test includes amphetamine, benzodiazepines, buprenorphine, cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), ketamine, mephedrone, methadone, methamphetamine, opiates, phencyclidine and zolpidem. Other drugs including GHB, LSD, Spice, steroids and Tramadol can also be detected.

As well as a month-by-month hair strand test, AlphaBiolabs also offers an overview hair drug test to obtain a general indication of drug use. This kind of hair drug test averages out any episodes of drug taking over the period being tested.

For further information on month-by-month hair drug testing and other drug testing solutions including oral fluid, urine and nail clippings, please call our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email us at