The Pros and Cons of Drug Testing Your Child

Struggling with the question, “Is my teen using drugs?” and not being 100% sure of the answer is stressful, frustrating and can consume a parent. While it’s tempting to solve the question by testing your child for drugs at home, you may also feel conflicted and not want your child to feel violated. You may feel you’re overreacting, and being an overbearing parent. You may not want to create problems between you and your child, regardless of the results. You may be in denial, or you may be afraid of being wrong. These are all very common feelings.

Home drug testing kits have become accessible and popular because they allow parents to test their child themselves — and some counties across the country have even begun to offer parents take-home drug kits, not to report the to the schools, but simply to provide parents an easier way to find out if their children are using drugs.

But it isn’t always the way to go. Even with all the latest advancements in technology and testing methods, kids are smart, and it’s easy for them to learn how to cheat on these tests.

Anyone doing a quick online search can come up with countless hits on the topic of how to cheat on a drug test, so if you don’t have your child’s Internet activity on lock-down, this could pose a major problem. Not to mention, there are plenty of other ways to search online outside of your home. Websites also market urine screens that “cleanse” the urine of illegal substances, or ship clean urine to be substituted.

Teens often utilize many tricks to cheat on drug test, such as:

  • diluting urine samples by drinking a lot of liquids before the test.
  • drinking or ingesting certain substances to mask the drugs.
  • trying to pass someone else’s urine off as their own.
  • replacing one drug with another drug that can’t be detected in at-home tests, i.e. synthetic drugs.

Fortunately, while it’s possible to get away with these things, and since the above strategies are so common, testing methods are becoming more advanced — they can now detect when a sample has been tampered with or diluted. However, many of these tests are only found in a medical lab setting.

And so, a negative test result doesn’t necessarily mean the teen isn’t using drugs. It is crucial for parents to develop a healthy relationship with their teen, or at the very least, make strong attempts to keep open the lines of communication, know the dangers of every drug popular among young people and learn with whom they socialize.

Do you fall for excuses?
Many parents who see positive results on a drug test don’t want to believe it, which makes it easy for teens who come up with excuses as to why they failed the test — their parents will want to believe them, and so they do. It’s amazing how many times something like, “I took a drink of my friend’s soda, and it was laced with drugs” actually works.

Go on, keep talkin’
At-home drug tests come in kits designed to help and encourage parents to talk to their kids about drugs. It’s not enough to test and punish them if the results are positive. Testing kids at home is up to the parent — but if it can create more communication between parents and their kids, then it’s worth it.

Unsure where to start? Take Our Substance Abuse Self-Assessment

“Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.