If you do make a decision to implement a family program of drug testing, experts advise speaking candidly with your kids about your motivations for doing so and about your fears for their safety. They may not accept your rationale, but they may better respect your right to perform the tests if they are more included in the decision to implement them.
You also need to get educated on the drug testing process and methodologies. An inaccurate drug test is worse than no test at all, so you need to do some research to make sure you get a reliable test, to learn how to perform the test properly and also to learn ways that kids can beat these tests. Kids get that information from the internet…so you can too; and your family doctor or a local drug treatment facility may be a better place than the internet from which to get information about reliable and effective medical drug testing kits.
Because the possibility of error is relatively high, a positive drug test does not necessarily mean that your child has in fact been indulging. Do not immediately enforce punitive measures unless your teen does admit to use, and get a second and more medically stringent test to confirm the initial positive result.
To best deter drug or alcohol use, the consequences of a positive result should be known to all, and parents need to ensure that they stick to promised consequences and enforce punishments for use.
Parenting an adolescent is never easy, and with all the dangers kids are exposed to it can make the best of parents anxious for the safety and well being of adolescent kids. Drug testing does offer a tempting insight into the real behaviors of reticent teens, and does give parents the information they need to really help kids who may be having substance use or abuse problems.
The risks and benefits of use make the decision very complex and emotionally charged; and each parent and each family will have to make their own decision about whether drug testing their teens is the best way to protect kids through these dangerous formative years.
Page last updated Nov 08, 2010