Is Teen Drug Testing a Good Idea?
This entry was posted in Ember Recovery Blog on by .

Teen drug use is a serious problem in the United States, as 15% of high school students report having ever used an illicit drug.1 When parents hear statistics like these, they can question whether their teen is using drugs, especially if they have acted differently. If you have concerns, you may consider whether teen drug testing is a good idea.

We’re going to take a look at why some parents may consider this option, some issues surrounding teen drug testing, and how it can help parents get their teenagers the treatment they need.

Should You Drug Test Your Teen?

While teen drug testing can highlight important issues, it can also raise some potential concerns, which is why many parents think deeply about drug testing their teen before doing it. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes involuntary drug tests and believes that if a teen is being tested, they should consent to it.2 Doing so involuntarily can cause trust issues.

If you choose to drug test your teen, the most common way is through their urine. But hair, saliva, sweat, and nails can also be used.

Potential Issues Surrounding Teen Drug Testing

As you consider whether teen drug testing is right for your child, consider these potential issues that may arise:

Not all Drug Tests Detect Illicit Drugs

Many routine urine tests will not detect Ketamine, Ecstasy, LSD, or anabolic steroid use.

You May Get a False Negative

Many drugs can be flushed from the user’s system within 12 hours. Some teens may also try to dilute their urine with tap water or drink a lot of water to get the drugs out of their systems.

False Positives Can Occur

Just as you can get a false negative, you can also get a false positive. Some drug tests may mistake traces of ibuprofen for signs of marijuana use. Sinus medicine can also be mistakenly identified as amphetamines. Poppy seeds in baked goods can come up positive for opiate use. Consider these things if you decide to drug test your teen.

Trust Issues Can Form

If you’re drug testing your teen, they may feel as though you don’t trust them. This may hurt your parent-child relationship, especially if your teen is not using drugs.

Benefits of Teen Drug Testing

Although teen drug testing may cause some issues, there are also some benefits to consider.

You Will Gain Insight

Whether the test is positive or negative, you will get insight into whether your child is using drugs. Always consider that the results may be misinterpreted in one direction or the other.

Opens Up Communication

Drug testing can open up the lines of communication between you and your teen. If you decide to test them, they will immediately know your concerns. This can be a catalyst for a candid conversation about their activity. This may be what your teen needs to gain insight about what’s been going on in their lives. Every teen will respond differently, so this may or may not be the case with your child.

Allows You to Get Help for Your Child

If you do decide to drug test your teen and the result is positive, you can get them the help they need to stop their substance abuse problems.

You Can Prevent Legal Troubles

Testing your teenager for drugs can give you insight into their behavior and prevent legal troubles. Legal troubles can include being arrested for buying drugs or getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

How Can I Tell If My Teen is Using Drugs Without Testing?

Several red flags can indicate your teen is using drugs without testing them. These include 2:

  • Smelling alcohol, smoke, or chemical substances on their clothing
  • Obvious signs of intoxication
  • New friends
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Failing grades
  • Frequent arguments
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in hygiene

If you notice any of these signs or believe your child may be getting into some dangerous behaviors, you can consult your pediatrician or contact a teen drug treatment center for guidance.

Seeking Teen Drug Treatment at Ember Recovery

If you have questions about teen drug testing or have tested your teen and have gotten a positive result, Ember Recovery is here to help. Our team is dedicated to specifically helping teens with their substance abuse issues.

We offer various treatment options and therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, and multidimensional family therapy. We also offer detox referrals and dual diagnosis treatments. Ember Recovery has helped more than 5,000 teens in Iowa with their substance abuse disorders – let us help your child.

Call us today or reach out to us online to learn more about our programs and how your child can benefit.