Why You Shouldn’t Test Your Teens for Drug Use

Lester and Julia discovered that their teenage daughter was abusing alcohol and smoking marijuana. She denied it. They thought drug testing at home was the right thing, so they bought home drug-testing kits available on the Internet and began to administer random urine screens.

For several months, the drug tests consistently indicated that their daughter’s marijuana level was decreasing. They were happy because they thought she was quitting. The truth was, their daughter had been using drugs that could not be detected by home drug tests. When Lester and Julia finally discovered this, they enrolled her in treatment.

There are many reasons why testing your teens for drug use at home is not recommended. Read on to know why it may not be an effective way to know whether your kid is using drugs.

They can fool parents

The negative drug tests could falsely reassure you while your teen actually has a drug problem. According to Sharon Levy, director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, "My clinical experience tells me that parents are fooled all the time."

They can result in misleading false positives

Another reason why drug testing at home is not recommended for testing your teen is that the test can result in false positives that can mislead you. Cold medications, poppy seeds, and even antibiotics taken in high doses can possibly cause false positives on some types of tests. The grim picture: Parents falsely accusing their innocent kids of illicit drug use.

They can worsen the problem

The time that elapses between the initial discovery of drug use and the procurement of outside help can make minor problems to become major ones. This delay could work against you and your teen. Seeking professional help earlier would give you a better opportunity to prevent undesirable and graver outcome.

Many home drug tests are confusing

Home tests can be very difficult to administer and asking parents who have no training at all with lab medicine to perform the procedure correctly is tough. Also, parents must be pretty knowledgeable to distinguish similar-sounding drug types like opiates and opioids. Getting the wrong kit could make the results meaningless.

Administering them makes you a police, not a parent

Lastly, you are a parent, not a police. Administering home drug screening tests may damage your bond with your teen. According to Peter Rogers, a clinical professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University medical school, "I’m not sure that’s the relationship that parents want to have with their kids. They shouldn’t be policemen, just parents."