Should You Use At-Home Drug Tests on Your Teen?
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Should You Use At-Home Drug Tests on Your Teen?

Parents who are worried their teen is using drugs may turn to at-home drug tests for answers. However, it’s important to first look at some of the pros and cons of conducting at-home drug testing to see if it’s the right step for you and your family. Whether or not you decide to use these kits, most experts agree that talking to your teen and their pediatrician—separately and together—should be the first step in assessing if there is a problem.

Pros:

Some parents and health experts look at using at-home drugs kits as a positive tool in keeping your kids safe from exposure to substances. They feel that if the child knows they will be regularly tested, they could be less likely to use drugs. Since there are numerous kinds of drug tests on the market (many of which are readily available at pharmacies and online), administering a test could be an easy way to determine if your child is using. Each test is designed to detect different forms of drugs and the presence of substances in the system at different blocks of time. The most common tests are hair and blood drug tests.

Cons: 

Administering a drug test may seem like the easiest way to determine what your child is using, but should you do it? Are the tests even accurate? Here are some drawbacks to using at-home drug testing:

  • Some tests may not be effective at identifying levels of a drug in the system or may be easy to cheat, especially if the collection of the specimen isn’t monitored.
  • At-home tests do not test for all illicit drugs. Additionally, your teen may switch to another drug they know won’t show up on the result.
  • Test results could present false negatives, as some drugs can leave the system quickly. False positives can occur, as well—for example, some urine tests may still show marijuana use in the results, even if your teen quit using the drug days or weeks prior to the test. 
  • Some feel these kits aren’t effective at all. An article in Partnership For Drug-Free Kids quotes Dr. Sharon Levy, Director of the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, as saying, “I am not at all convinced that drug testing is useful as a preventive tool; it is a terrible tool for identifying use (since most teen and young adult drug use is sporadic, which is very unlikely to be picked up by a random test).”

Addiction and Treatment

Whether or not you decide to use these at-home drug kits, most experts agree that the first step in determining whether or not there is a substance use problem is to talk to both your child and their pediatrician. Oftentimes, your child’s pediatrician can perform clinical assessments as well as in-office drug tests to see if your son or daughter is using. If you discover that your teen may have a problem, there is help. If you or a loved one is battling addiction or a substance use disorder, get help today—contact Daylight Recovery Services at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT. There is no cure for addiction, but recovery is possible. 

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