Virginia Beach, Va. - A heroin epidemic is on our hands, and experts say the answer to it could be right at our fingertips, literally.
Fingernail testing is gaining in popularity when it comes to drug testing, experts say it's because it is basically impossible to beat the test.
"It's very hard to adulterate or change. Finger nails and hair are made of the same thing, keratin, and fingernails are four times thicker and they have protection," explained Paul Mungo, Owner of Drug Testing Solutions of Virginia Beach.
Additionally, fingernail testing allows labs to find out which drugs a person has been used over the course of multiple months, compare that to urine testing which only shows what drugs someone has used in the last three days.
"With fingernails, it's more like 3 to 6 months for drugs," said Mungo.
Hair testing can yield the same results as nail tests; however, Mungo says a hair sample can be easily damaged through hair dye and other products used on a daily basis.
"It can change a positive to a negative if you are borderline," says Mungo.
While fingernail testing sounds like the best way to tests someone's drug history, there is one drawback. There are only a handful of labs that perform finger nail tests.
One of them is located in Des Plaines, Illinois. The Executive Director, Doug Louis, spoke with WITI, NewsChannel 3's sister station.
"We kinda discovered this phenomenon in fingernails," Lewis said.
Lewis also explained how the test works. Lab techs examine ten fingernail clippings from one person. For best results, most of the clippings need to be the width of a quarter. What techs are looking for are chemicals. Lewis says every time someone uses a drug, a chemical binds with the keratin in your nails, leaving a mark that lasts for months.
According to Mungo, these tests typically cost more than $100, but they can provide families with invaluable information.
"There is a huge cost its not just monetary it can cost relationships," he said.
If you suspect someone you love may be addicted to drugs Mungo suggests that you educate yourself and see what tests are available. To find out more about hair tests, and other drug testing options visit Drug Testing Solutions' website. There are also links to other resources listed there.