By Nicole Kolly
PARENTS: Drug Tests are Important!
If you are reading this, you may feel that drug testing is as desperate measure in the prevention of drug abuse. However, regular, agreed-upon drug testing of adolescents can save lives. Plus, the practice is becoming more commonplace. In fact, drug testing a teen is the only way to really know:
- What substances your teen is really ingesting.
- What kinds of risk your kid has for physical harm.
- The level of risk your teen has for addiction.
NOTE HERE: Denial does nothing to solve a problem. Drug abuse is rampant among teenagers. From parties to classrooms, the drug culture is taking over every aspect of a teenager’s life! The only way to make sure of what your teenager is actually doing when they are out of your home is to get him/her tested for it.
Thinking about drug testing your teen son or daughter? Still wary of the process? Here are some key reasons why you need to drug-test your teenager now. Learn more here, and send us your questions via the comments section at the bottom of the page.
REASON #1: Peer Pressure is Unbelievable
From snorting cocaine at parties to smoking marijuana on school premises, drug-consumption is deep-rooted into adolescence. Even if your teen doesn’t want to do drugs, the temptation can be strong. Sometimes, even the strongest succumb. What’s more: A recent study in the UK found that kids who attend private school are more likely to experience addiction in their young adult years than their cohorts.
So, if you thought your well-brought-up, school educated, good-neighborhood-reared child can never do drugs…think again!
When drug use is everywhere and everyone but your child seems to indulge, saying “yes” goes from being intentional to almost involuntary. But, if a teens knows that they can be randomly tested for drugs at home, they may be much more careful and alert. In fact, there are chances that a kid who wants to stay straight will cut themselves off from circles that are heavily into drug consumption.
REASON #2: Drugs are Easily Available
You may want to refute it, but drugs are available and are very easy to buy. Both illicit and prescription drugs are available everywhere. Your medicine cabinets may be full of:
- Benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax
- Opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone, or tramadol
- Sleeping pills like Ambien
So, your own home may be a source of drug consumption. If not, kids are most likely to source prescription drugs from friends. Or, dealers may first give away drugs to children without any money, and then get them hooked. Whatever the source, once addicted, students are ready to pay and buy regularly.
It’s also disturbing that no place can be considered completely safe or drug-free for children. Even when it comes to educational institutions, drug dealing may be happening in clandestine ways. The best way to ensure that your teen does not abuse drugs is to randomly test them at home (with their consent).
REASON #3: Drugs are an Effective, Easy Escape
The rising popularity of drugs is also due to the immense pressure that teenagers experience. From academics and romantic relationships to body-shaming fears, teenagers are living in a difficult world today. Drugs often offer a temporary, but easy, solution for teenagers to forget their worldly pressures and escape into a dimension where none of these responsibilities, restrictions, or problems exist.
REASON #4: It is Viewed as a Cool Thing to Do
From the swinging 60s to the flamboyant 80s, taking drugs has been culturally viewed as a cool thing. Think about messages in film, television, or media. It’s not surprising how teenagers and youngsters from all generations get swayed towards drugs.
Teenagers often combine alcohol and drugs, which is a dangerous combination and can cause immense harm to their still-developing bodies. Most teenagers have a common lens with which they view the world around them and in that world:
…and basically doing drugs is any form is considered “cool.” And, we all know how easy and tempting it is to jump on that bandwagon.
REASON #5: Statistics Prove That You Should Drug Test
Even if you have complete faith in your teen and think it is impossible for him/her to do drugs, maybe these cold hard statistics can convince you otherwise.
According to the most recent (and the latest) survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—9.4 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug in the past month. This number is up from 8.3 percent in 2002.
The same study also found that there were 19.8 million marijuana users in 2013 – about 7.5 percent of people aged 12 or older—up from 14.5 million (5.8 percent) in 2007. Also, as per dosomething.org.
- 1/3 of teenagers who live in states with medical marijuana laws get their pot from other people’s prescriptions.
- The United States represents 5% of the world’s population and 75% of prescription drugs taken. 60% of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them free from friends and relatives.
- By the 8th grade, 28% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana.
- About 50% of high school seniors do not think it’s harmful to try crack or cocaine once or twice and 40% believe it’s not harmful to use heroin once or twice.
A national survey done in 2009 across 8000 schools in the country revealed that 94% of all high school students had tried marijuana or other illicit drugs at least once before graduating. The 6% who said they did not could be lying because they did not want to admit that they had done drugs.
Scary instances of 9-year old kids testing positive for cocaine and marijuana consumption and teenagers getting arrested for having a meth lab in their garage make one think and feel that random drug testing at home is probably the only way to monitor and keep teenagers at home away from drugs.
REASON #6: Testing Can Open Up Communication
Administer tests occasionally to your teenagers, but make sure you do it with respect and dignity. These are the two factors that make a world of difference to teenagers. Do not throw surprise tests at them. Instead, here’s what you can do:
- Sit them down and talk to them about how drugs affect the brain. Focus on the science of drug intoxication. Talk about short and long term effects that drugs have on the brain/body. This implies you know what you’re talking about, so dig into this site and learn more about: alcohol, opiates, stimulants, and hallucinogens.
- Inform you child that – in about a month from now – you will be conducting a drug, alcohol, and tobacco test at home. Tell them that you will be doing this periodically.
- Show them the test (if necessary) and explain how they work. If they tell you things like, “You don’t trust us,” explain to them why you deem it necessary and why it goes beyond trust. Perhaps connect passing the test with an earned right to driving or getting their cellphone/Internet paid for.
- It is advisable to choose a quality drug-testing kit from a reliable vendor. Then, administer tests on occasions like post-dinner date, after a sleepover, or after a music concert.
- Agree upon consequences for positive drug tests. For example, positive testing may require a visit to a family physician or addictions counselor for follow up discussion. Remember to be open and talk with your child about effects on health or emotional life. If you’re in addiction recovery yourself, think about talking with your child about general experiences you had in the past. Or, look into education-based training on drug problems.
Limiting access to calls and texts, grounding them and monitoring their activities can backfire. To motivate a child to avoid taking drugs under any situation, connection is key.
So, be sure to keep communication open.
Got any questions?
Being a parent comes with a lot of responsibility. Sometimes, it involves you playing good cop/bad cop so that your teens can have a safe, healthy, and successful life ahead of them, devoid of any ramifications from substance abuse.
If you have any further questions, please post them in the designated section below. We welcome your feedback and try to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.