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Would You Test Your Teen for Drugs?

by Jane Wangersky | June 19th, 2015 | Behavior, Teens

teen boy (400x400)A company in Florida is marketing a home drug test kit and strongly advising parents to use it for random drug testing on their teens. Actually, it advises them to start testing their kids around age 12, before experimenting with drugs typically starts. Is this something that’s going to catch on? As a parent of a teen, my immediate reaction is that I hope not.

I’ll get to my reasons in a moment. First let’s look at why the Addiction Adviser, the company behind the Drug Detective, recommends using its product every month throughout your child’s teens and even before.

The headline of a media release on PRNewswire says the test “could save your child’s life.” The release quotes CEO Richard Capezzali as saying “parent-child drug discussions and the Just Say No campaigns simply aren’t working.” It  further  says “Random drugs screening gives kids a real way to say no. Random screening allows them to say ‘I can’t my parents are drug testing me.’”

Despite the emphasis on routine testing, Addiction Adviser’s website says that some parents use the test “Because they have recognized a change in personality or behavior.” If I strongly suspected my teen of drug use, I might be very glad to catch him before someone else did, and get him into treatment — which Addiction Adviser can help you find. But I still don’t think preventive drug testing in the home is a good idea. Why not?

It’s based on fear. The parents’ fear, that is — that their child may come to harm, and anything, even losing some of his/her love and trust, is better than that.

Kids will hate it. Even if they have nothing to hide, they’ll hate it. The company warns about resistance and says the stronger it is, the more likely your child’s using drugs. There are other reasons to resist, though . . .

It’s a morale killer. I saw this in an organization that used random drug testing. It was degrading, it was sometimes misused (more as a punishment than an investigation — are you sure you’d never be tempted to use it that way?), and I don’t know if it even worked.

It’s not foolproof. The company site warns there are ways to cheat. The only way to stop that for sure is to watch your kid fill up the cup. I once had to act as witness to a drug test in the aforementioned organization — I told you it was degrading.

Yes, it’s harder than ever to keep your child from getting into drugs, and talks and a good example from parents can go only so far. And yes, there may be times a drug testing kit is handy. But random drug testing in the family brings its own problems.

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