The question of whether parents should drug test their teens is a complicated one. At the root of it is a concern for a young person’s health and safety. Parents need to think very carefully about their reasons for considering the drug tests, their family’s circumstances, and what they will do with the information.
What Do Positive and Negative Results on a Drug Test Mean?
Before we can talk about whether drug testing young people makes sense, we need to understand what these test results mean.
- A positive result means that one or more of the panel of drugs being tested for was found in the sample provided. These test results should always be repeated to confirm they are correct.
- A negative result means that there was either no amount of the panel of drugs or that the level of drugs present didn’t meet the cut-off concentration level for the test.
A person can get a negative result on a drug test without being entirely “clean” of drug use. Since this type of drug test looks for drug levels or specific compounds created when a drug is metabolized by the body, the detection window is only accurate within a set amount of time.
Proactive Parents Want to Test
The arguments for drug testing teens come from those who believe parents should be proactive and stay on top of the drug issue with their teen.
- Random Drug Tests May Act as Deterrent
If a parent feels as though they want (or need) to be in control of the situation, then telling their teen that they will be subject to random drug tests while living at home may seem like a good way to tackle to issue. For some young people, that may be enough of an incentive to avoid drugs altogether. Others may be more inclined to push boundaries and may take a chance on experimenting with chemicals.
- Parents Have the Chance to Catch a Drug Problem in Early Stages
Using drug tests is an opportunity to confirm what a parent, teacher, or coach may suspect about a teen: that they are involved with drugs. The testing process may catch a drug problem in the early stages so that a young person can be referred to a drug and alcohol treatment center before the addiction has had a number of years to develop.
The Arguments Against Drug Testing Teens
There are some good arguments against drug testing teens.
- Teens Feel Parents Don’t Trust Them
No one wants to feel as though they are living in some type of police state, where they can be stopped and asked to take a drug test at any time without notice. This type of environment certainly doesn’t foster trust between the parents and their teens.
- Drug Testing Drives Issue Underground
If a young person does have a drug problem, the idea that their parents are conducting random tests isn’t going to encourage them to discuss their struggles. Instead, they’ll likely refuse to talk, making the problem worse. A better option may be to take testing out of the picture and encourage the teen to be open when they need help with any problem, including substance abuse.
If You Decide to Drug Test your Teens…
- Decide in advance what you are going to do with the results. You can’t “un-see” a failed drug test, which means you need to be prepared to take some type of action.
- Make the consequences of a failed test clear. A young person needs to understand that failing a drug test is considered a serious matter.
- Follow up on the stated consequences. Don’t back down if a teen fails a drug test, even if they get angry, upset, or make promises about having learned their lesson, etc.
- Keep the focus on health and safety, not punishment. Explain that a positive drug test is an indication that a person needs addiction treatment and that seeking help early is best.
We Can Help
If you are concerned about a loved one’s drug use, Great Oaks Recovery in Egypt, TX, can help. Our residential treatment program offers round-the-clock care in a safe, secure environment. Contact us today to discover more about what we can offer you and your family.