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3 serious problems with home drug tests for teens

Updated on September 20, 2007

The risks of drug testing your teen

With all the controversy over school drug testing and with readily available and heavily advertised drug testing kits on the internet, parents may be wondering whether they should be drug testing their kids in the home.

There are some definite advantages to knowing with certainty whether or not your kids are at risk for substance abuse or addiction, and drug tests hold the promise of that concrete knowledge. They also may serve as a deterrent to use, but there are some serious questions about their efficacy, about the effect they may have on the parent-child relationship, and the practical difficulties involved in testing someone against their will and consent.

3 problems with drug testing teenage children

1 They don't work as well as advertised

A recent independent laboratory investigation of heavily promoted drug testing kits for parent's has concluded that they do not work nearly as well as indicated on the packaging, and for some drugs may giving false negatives (incorrectly indicating no drug use) up to 40% of the time.

Parents may not be handling the sample correctly or performing the test correctly, and the testing kits may not be as sensitive as needed.

Additionally, there are a number of counter measures that kids can take to mask the appearance of drugs. Some of these are consumable substances readily available cheaply on the internet, and when taken block the ability of tests to recognize metabolites, and some measures can be as basic as adding water to urine to dilute the metabolites below the detectable level.

2 They damage the parent child relationship

As much as proponents (mostly those in business to profit from the tests) argue that the tests have a negligible effect on the trust relationship between parents and children, family psychologists' are not so sure that this is so.

Teens crave autonomy, and they also demand trust and respect, and when parents use drug tests the message is quite clear…"I don’t trust what you say".

Trust is a two way street, and although drug testing may be able to detect some drug use some of the time, if it lessens a child's readiness to confide in you or seek your council on other important and serious matters of growing up, then it may be doing more harm than good.

We all want to protect our kids, and drugs are pretty scary, but drug abuse and addiction is far from the only risk to our kids as they emerge through adolescence. We all hope that our kids will come to us should they ever have a serious and scary problem of their own, yet by compromising that trust relationship, this may not happen as we'd like.

3 How do you test someone who is non compliant?

If your teen does not agree to be drug tested, how will you collect the sample? Although many web sites will extol the virtues of drug testing, few get into the logistics of the act.

Will you wrestle a hair from your son's head?

Will you hold your daughter down for a saliva sample?

Will you watch them in the bathroom as they deliver a urine sample?

The realities of the process can get pretty complicated, and none of the above scenarios are ones any parent would relish.

There are some advantages to testing your kids, and a positive drug test may give you the early warning you need to stop experimentation before it becomes something far worse; but parents need to consider the advantages and the disadvantages to a drug testing policy carefully, and decide for themselves whether it does more harm or more good.

See below for a discussion on the advantages of drug testing your teens


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      MushroomSnacher 5 years ago

      I hate being drug tested. Good way to fool a marijuana test by the way: piss in half of the tube. Fill the other half with water. Get some powdered bleach (put this under your fingernails to hide) and mix this all in with the piss and water. Works wonders :D

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      dave 5 years ago

      and after you tested your child for drugs you sat down with a smoke or a glass of wine knowing that you had just saved them from one of the most dangerous vices

      try telling your kids to use drugs in moderation, prohibition doesn't work, just look at abstinence education vs pregnancy rates, or the fact that in the netherlands where weed is legal fewer people smoke it than in the USA

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      kevin 6 years ago

      drug testing is the stupidest thing ever.

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      reader 6 years ago

      You spelled ecstasy wrong you fucktard.

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      battletoads 6 years ago

      drug testing your kid isnt a sign of unquestionable trust dipshit

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      Micki 6 years ago

      I am a Mom and after discovering that my son did use drugs, random testing has been useful. I agree that you should trust your kids, but for all the talking we did to our 16 year old son about not using drugs, HE DID, and we caught him. He is a smart boy and quickly discovered that we usually tested him around the beginning of the month. This is when we had the most money to buy the test. In the middle of the month, a few months ago, my 16 year old son was discussing the effects of extacy in the school. I got a call from the Vice Principle. I had made up my mind I would find the money some how to test him that night, and put the test on my credit card. He came home, and for the first time, refused to take the test. I told him he would not leave the home until he did. For the first time EVER he punched a hole in our home. HE TESTED POSITIVE FOR EXTACY. So yes, as a Mom, I SUPPORT RANDOM DRUG TESTING. I gave my son unquestionable trust--he lost it and so he will have to earn it back and prove he is deserving of it again. We now test him more regularly. He knows future use will result in the permanent loss of his car. It is easy for the world to tell you how to parent your teen--cracks me up when someone that is not a parent of a teen tries to do it. Just like how people without children think they know how to parent them.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 7 years ago

      i do not think that use a drug test is a good idea. It is very important have a trust relationship between kids and parents. Trust and confidence are the better allies against drugs. It is very important knowing the effect of the different drugs and observe the kids. When there is a suspect, the parent must to talk with his kid, but without that he feels under control. This is just a throught... from who has not a child!

    • gidtset profile image

      gidtset 7 years ago

      You are right about some of the statements. I think that a drugtest might have a preventive effect.