As your child navigates the teen years, you may find yourself questioning your ability to trust her. She may be hanging out with new friends or exhibiting troubling behaviors. If you find yourself leaning toward testing your teen for drugs, consider the topic carefully.
Ask Yourself Why
What is prompting you to consider drug testing your teen? Could your child’s negative behaviors be attributed to issues other than drugs or alcohol? If you haven’t sat down and had a serious talk with your teen about drug use, don’t spring a drug test out as the first defense. Establish a conversation and open yourself up as a sounding board for troubles—especially if your teen is acting withdrawn or depressed. You may end up learning that his behavior is due to other issues.
Consider Your Options
The most common type of drug test is a urine test. You’ve probably experienced one at some point or another as an employee. They’re cheap and easy, but they’re also relatively unreliable. Many common street drugs won’t show up, while others like marijuana may show up weeks after your child quit smoking it. Certain medications can affect the results as well. Alcohol will not show up in a drug test. Urine tests can be administered by your pediatrician or at home, but both types may influence your teen’s trust and may not actually deter drug use.
Consider Your Goals
What do you hope to achieve from a drug test? If you discover that your child is abusing drugs, do you have a game plan? If your child is opposed to the idea, you may be better off approaching the situation the same way, without resorting to drug testing. However, if your child wants to go ahead with a test to prove himself, that may be a more positive situation for your family. Regardless of what you hope to discover, you should plan ahead for any outcomes and should be working closely with your pediatrician to fight drug abuse.
Don’t Force It
The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes forced drug tests for teens. In the context of your family’s dynamic, involuntary drug testing can foster mistrust and resentful behavior in the future. Your teen may be more likely to hide things from you if she already thinks you don’t trust her or that you’ll invade her privacy against her will.
The LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a coalition of members of the community who strive to address alcohol and drug use in Pinellas County. Visit us online today to see how you can get involved in this cause that is so important to our community.