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To Test or Not to Test: A Parent’s Home Drug Testing Kit Dilemma

For decades, parents have been examining their teenagers for alcohol or drug use. The “tests” the parents conducted rarely consisted of anything more than listening for slurred speech, and checking for bloodshot eyes, odors or telltale signs of intoxication. Now actual at-home drug testing kits are available for parental use. But is it a good idea to use these kits in an effort to detect drug use in their kids?

There is a wide variety of home drug testing kits available. Some tests require urine samples while others process saliva or hair. Substances such as cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and marijuana can be detected by many of these kits, while other products may be more comprehensive in scope. However, no test will identify the presence of every possible drug.

Pros and Cons of Home Drug Testing

These home testing kits appeal to people who want to avoid the hassle of dragging their teen to a physician or health care provider to get him or her tested for drug use. These parents might have a desire to put their worries to rest by obtaining a straightforward, yes-or-no answer. Parents might want the ability to intervene before addiction sets in, and they feel that a home testing kit might help them vanquish their teen’s drug habit before it gets out of control.

However, these testing kits have many limitations, including the inability to detect certain drugs after some time has passed and the possibility of false positives or negatives. Moreover, savvy teens can trick these home tests by diluting their saliva, swapping out their urine with someone else’s or even switching their drug of choice. All testing constraints aside, asking teens to take a drug test can have serious repercussions for parent-teen relationships going forward if teens believe that their parents don’t trust them.

Home Drug Testing Takeaways

  1. Testing your teenagers for drugs at home is a serious decision that shouldn’t be made without a great deal of thought and reflection. While the decision may vary from family to family, here are some key points to keep in mind:
  2. Never rely on home drug testing as a standalone measure or response to a perceived drug problem
  3. Consider using home testing only if you have strong evidence of a drug problem (such as past drug use or observing that your teen is high on drugs)
  4. Consider consulting with your family’s pediatrician for advice about and assistance with testing your teen for drug use
  5. Never test your teen for drug use without his or her knowledge
  6. Be sure to closely — but respectfully — observe your teen during testing to minimize the odds of him or her tricking the test
  7. Follow the instructions on the home testing kit to avoid getting an inaccurate result
  8. If your teen tests positive, don’t react solely by imposing discipline or punitive measures. Be prepared to take the next steps to get the help that your teen needs to overcome the substance misuse problem.

It’s perfectly understandable for parents to do all they can to prevent their teenagers from developing drug dependence or addiction. When it comes to home drug testing kids, parents must carefully decide whether identifying drug use through testing would help them achieve this goal or if it will ultimately make open communication between themselves and their teen more complicated.

If your teen is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact Next Generation Village today to get help.

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