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Parents – Are you Drug Testing Your Kids?

Parents reviewing drug test results with their child

There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer to the above question: Parents – are you drug testing your kids? The answer could be yes or no, and it all depends on the circumstances and the situation.

In some situations, parents would never consider drug testing their kids. In other situations, parents should definitely consider drug testing their kids. Perhaps now isn’t the best time to talk about drug testing your kids, but at some point, the topic may come up, so this article will hopefully arm you with the knowledge to make an informed decision.

Here at National Drug Screening we can help you, answer your questions, and provide some valuable resources. We can also arrange drug testing in all regions of the United States through a simple and confidential process. Scheduled or immediate testing services are available online or by calling our office at 866-843-4545.

Now back to the question of whether you should drug test your child? At National Drug Screening we believe you should drug test only when it is truly warranted. We know that many kids will eventually experiment with drugs. As parents, our hope is that this experimental use won’t escalate into serious abuse or addiction.

Before resorting to drug testing though, it is always best to talk to your child first. Keep educating them on the dangers of illicit drug use and addiction. An effective preventive measure starting in the early teen years is to conduct random drug testing that might prove very beneficial as a deterrent to drug use. This might help a teen resist peer pressure by saying “No, I can’t try that. My parents could drug test me at any time.” With a loving relationship between family members, drug testing can be a helpful tool for parents and kids.

As parents, once you have knowledge of illicit drug use by your kids, drug testing is often a good decision. Parents and teens may have to work together to reestablish mutual trust, and you may need a way to ease your mind; drug testing can help in that regard. In addition to drug testing, you might even offer incentives to your teen to stay clean. If all else fails, then professional help and substance abuse treatment are recommended.

What Happens When my Kid Tests Positive?

This can be shattering news for many parents. Don’t react immediately. Digest the information and talk it out with your spouse or a trusted friend. Maybe it is a one-time occurrence. It is usually best for parents to try and calmly speak to their kids about the situation in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Many teenagers smoke marijuana and never move on to other drugs. But you just don’t know, so now is the time to open up the lines of communication and it is truly critical to establish some form of ongoing education. Teenagers who smoke pot every day will need professional help. With other drugs of abuse, we suggest going to a trained addiction specialist. Addiction is dangerous and deadly. It is imperative that you do everything you can to stop it, including using the valuable resources below from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Positive drug test results could be the first step in getting your teen the necessary help. Even if your son or daughter is only using marijuana and insisting that it’s no big deal, you should ask yourself if there are underlying reasons for its use. Is it to alleviate anxiety or depression? If you suspect this to be the case or have no idea at all, it might be a good idea for your son or daughter to see a therapist for a thorough evaluation to help assess why he or she is smoking marijuana.

And most certainly, if you receive a positive test for opiates, evaluation and treatment will be necessary with a professional addiction specialist.

As you move through the process of dealing with a child who is using illicit drugs, we offer three points of advice for consideration:

  • Stand firm
  • Ask for help
  • Observe, but don’t micromanage

Remember that the main purpose of drug tests is not to punish your children but to get them help.

Drug Use in America

2017 statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicates there is substantial drug abuse among teens and young adults in the United States.

  • In 2017, 30.5 million people 12 years or older used an illicit drug in the past 30 days (i.e., current use), which corresponds to about one in nine Americans (11.2 percent)
  • 6.5 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds were current users of marijuana
  • 3.1 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds reported misusing opioids in the past year
  • 2.5 million or 7.3 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds reported misusing opioids in the past year

SAMHSA also reported on young adults (ages 18-25): “There were higher rates of cigarette use, alcohol initiation, alcohol use disorder, heroin-related opioid use disorder, cocaine use, methamphetamine use, and LSD use among the 18 to 25-year-old population than their younger and older counterparts. This population also had increasing rates of serious mental illness and major depressive episodes.” The report also stated that “About 1 in 4 young adults aged 18 to 25 were current illicit drug users.” This population is at significant risk, and many 18 to 25-year-olds are now living at home. Parents need to be concerned and involved in the lives of these young adults. Drug testing may be necessary as a monitoring tool if parents have suspicions that their children are using illegal drugs or if the individual has had bouts with substance abuse in the past or was caught using illegal drugs.

Although many adults today think that marijuana use is not harmful, the 2017 SAMHSA report stated, “Frequent marijuana use, in both youths (aged 12-17 years) and young adults (aged 18-25 years), appears to be associated with opioid use, heavy alcohol use, and major depressive episodes.”

Teenage Drug Testing

Opioid Crisis

Opioid use is alarming in America. Teens and young adults are dying every day from it. Fentanyl has become the number one killer. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, which was a record. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicates that in 2017, about 3.1 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 reported misusing opioids in the past year, and that 2.5 million or 7.3 percent of adolescents aged 18 to 25 reported misusing opioids in the past year.

When opioids are suspected or confirmed, parents should do everything possible to help their kids. Professional help is desperately needed. The lives of these kids are clearly at risk. Drug testing may be necessary as a monitoring tool and to serve as a deterrent, but be aware that drug testing only works when included as part of an overall treatment and education plan.

What Kind of Drug Tests are Available?

There are many types of drug tests available with at home testing kits and laboratory testing. Specimens tested are typically urine or hair. Be cautious of using at home testing kits because many are unreliable and don’t test for all the drugs that today’s youth are using. These instant test kits can produce false positives or false negatives. Lab-based testing with initial screening, confirmation of presumptive positive results and review of the results by a licensed physician (a medical review officer - MRO) is the most effective testing method. This is the same type of testing performed on new employees prior to starting a job with a company. It is reliable, accurate and confidential.

Marijuana is typically included in all drug tests, but many tests might not include today’s highly abused synthetic opiates or other popular substances being taken without a prescription like Xanax (Zanex), Valium, Ritalin, Adderall and Pentobarbital. Cocaine is a come-back drug that is gaining popularity like its heydays of the 70s and early 80s.

What is typically recommended for first-time drug testing is the 10 Panel with expanded opiates urine drug test. This is an affordable test covering a wide variety of drugs including AMP-Amphetamines (MAMP-Methamphetamine, MDMA-Ecstasy), COC-Cocaine, PCP-Phencyclidine, THC-Marijuana, BZO-Benzodiazepines, BAR-Barbiturates, MTD-Methadone, PPX-Propoxyphene, METH-Methaqualone, OPI-Opiates (heroin, codeine and morphine) and expanded opiates such as hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone and oxymorphone. Similar testing is available with a hair specimen but is more expensive.

Follow Up and Resources

You can never be too safe or speak up too soon – even if you think they’re just “experimenting.” We highly recommend a very informative and beneficial free guide from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Download the Intervention eBook - a comprehensive guide for taking the first important steps to address your child’s drinking or drug use.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is an outstanding resource for families, particularly those struggling with their son’s or daughter’s substance use. One of their best and most helpful articles is - Should You Drug Test Your Child?

Another great resource we recommend is an article from Your Teen Magazine that is titled Drug Testing Your Teenager: Will it Make You Feel Better?