Using home drug testing kits to test your children can be useful for parents who suspect their children for substance abuse. However, many national and medical organisations advise against involuntarily drug testing children. Therefore, it’s important that parents know the best way to approach their children, whether or not to use a home drug test kit, and also their pros and cons. Read on for advice on using drug test kits for parents.
Is your child using drugs?
The teenage years can be a period of rebellion and experimentation, and can happen regardless of parenting skills and influence. There are many reasons why your child could be using drugs, such as peer pressure, fun or relaxation, or boredom. It could be as simple as curiosity or experimentation, or something more serious such as to escape from physiological or psychological pain.
Though as parents, we like to think that drug use will not happen to “our child”, there really is no parenting skill or behaviour that can guarantee that your child will not touch drugs.
The latest report of Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2014 surveyed 4500 high school students and their illicit drug use.
- 22% had used cannabis
- 15% had used tranquilisers
- 4% had used amphetamines
- 3% had used hallucinogens
- 4% had used ecstasy
- 2% had used opiates
- 3% had used cocaine
- 48% had used cannabis
- 48% had used inhalants
- 55% had used tranquilisers
The results may be shocking, but according to the report, children as young as 12 years old have tried different drugs, including opiates and cocaine.
Signs your child might be using drugs
Different drugs will exhibit different behaviours in a user. Watch out for some common symptoms of drug use.
Drug use, especially severe drug use, can be accompanied by social withdrawal, problems with memory and concentration, mood swings and tiredness, and explosive outbursts. You may also notice a change in eating habits, change in social circles, frequent absences from school or work, and declining academic or work performance.
Additionally, if you notice that your child has an increasing need for money without reason, disappearing money and valuables in the house, or is getting in trouble with the law, you should take time to talk to your child. These may not necessarily indicate drug use, but could indicate other issues that require your help.
However, just because your child is behaving suspiciously, it doesn’t necessarily mean that drugs are involved. Reach out to your child first to see if they are facing any issues without bringing up the possibility of drug use.
If you suspect your child is using drugs
Start a conversation with your child
First, stay calm – do not overreact and do not lose your temper. Resist the urge to search your child’s bedroom for evidence. Instead, do some research on the suspected drugs so that you have the facts. Better Health Victoria provides some very useful information on talking to kids about drugs.
Think of an action plan on how to address the issue to your child and what to do if your child admits or denies it. Consider finding out how to drug test your child, preparing some drug test kits for parents, and plan what to do in the event of a positive drug test result. Then, find a suitable time to raise your concerns calmly with your child when you are both relaxed.
Educate your child
Educate your child on the risks of taking drugs. Talk to them about the dangerous effects of drug abuse, including the physical, emotional and legal ramifications surrounding illicit drug use. Explain that their brain is still developing and drug use can severely impact healthy brain development, not to mention their academic performance and future.
You may have to accept that an older or more rebellious teenager will deny and refuse to stop taking drugs, no matter what you say. In that case, if your child gets into trouble with the police or has to go to court, support them but let them cope with the consequences on their own, such as paying for fines.
Propose a home drug test
If your child denies taking drugs, then conducting a home drug test might be useful as evidence. However, a home drug test should always be done voluntarily, i.e. with your child’s consent; if forced, it could damage your relationship with your child by creating mistrust and suspicion.
Explain to your child calmly but firmly of your reasons for drug testing them. Let them know that you are doing this out of concern for their wellbeing, not as a way to judge or punish them. Explain that if they are being pressured into taking drugs, getting drug tested can give them a legitimate excuse to tell their friends ‘no’ to drugs.
Assure your child there will be no punishments even if the results are positive. The last thing you want to do is to scare him or her into denial. Instead of punishing your child, you should consider why your child is taking drugs, how it makes them feel, and how you can support them to stop the drug use. Assure them that you are concerned about their wellbeing, and the risk of drug use on them.
How to drug test your child
If your child agrees to the drug test, make sure that you have a home drug testing kit ready and a place to record the results. Recording the results is important so that you can understand your child’s behaviour and drug use pattern, if any.
Where to buy home drug test kits
You can buy home drug test kits online or from some pharmacies. Look for easy-to-use drug test kits for parents to test their children. They should test for a variety of drugs, especially commonly used cannabis and amphetamines. For example, the DrugSense DSO7 Saliva Drug Testing Kit tests for 7 drug groups including marijuana (THC), cocaine, methamphetamines, MDMA (ecstasy), amphetamines, opiates, and benzodiazepines. The DrugSense DSU9 Urine Drug Testing Kit tests for 9 drugs that include marijuana (THC), cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines, buprenorphine, methadone, and K2 (synthetic marijuana), as well as alcohol.
The best drug test kits for parents
We would recommend using saliva drug testing kits on your child. These are recommended drug test kits for parents because they are easier to use, less invasive, and have a lesser chance of the sample being tampered with as sample collection can be done by you on-the-spot. However, the window of detection of drugs is shorter – around 24 hours for most drugs, and 4-5 hours for marijuana.
For a longer window of detection, you can use urine drug testing kits. These can detect drug use from 1-3 days prior. However, tampering of the urine sample is easy unless you insist on watching the urine collection. Otherwise, opt for a urine drug test kit with built-in adulterants check, such as the DrugSense DSU9 which tests the sample for oxidants, specific gravity, pH, nitrite, glutaradehyde and creatine. By doing so, you can be sure of the validity of the urine sample provided and prevent cheating.
How to use the drug testing kit
Read the instructions on the drug testing kit carefully. Drug test kits for parents such as the DrugSense DSO7 or DSU9 would usually have clear, easy-to-read instructions to guide you. Depending on which drug test kit you buy – a saliva drug testing kit or a urine testing kit – the sample collection procedure and waiting time could be different.
Make sure that you interpret and record the drug test results correctly. Drug tests usually have a control line to indicate whether the sample is valid. The positive / negative drug test results are only valid if the control line appears. Results must usually be read within 5 minutes.
What do I do if my child tests positive?
First, do not jump to conclusions or start a confrontation. Drug tests are just an initial test, and it is possible to get a false positive result on them.
Calmly show your child the results of the test and ask them what they think of the results. Tell them that you will be sending the test to a lab or doctor to have it confirmed. In most cases, when confronted with a positive test result, the child will confess if actual drug use has occurred, and further testing would not be necessary.
Next, it’s a good idea to find out why they’re using drugs, how often, and how it makes them feel. If you’re uncertain of how best to stop them from taking drugs, consult with a professional center (some references are provided below) for treatment and counseling advice for your child and your family.
When should I test my child?
Drug testing should be done regularly, regardless of whether your child tests positive or negative the first time. Many parents choose to drug test their child at least once a month or randomly and unannounced. This helps to ensure that your child does not become complacent about the tests, and that your drug testing program is taken seriously.
Get your child the help he or she needs
Using drug test kits for parents is only the first step to preventing further drug use. If your teen is using drugs, it is vital that they get help from medical professionals as soon as possible. There are various rehabilitation and cessation options available to teenagers in Australia, so seek help promptly. If unsure, ask your local GP for a referral.
More information and assistance on drug use can be found below:
- If an overdose is suspected, call 000 for an ambulance immediately
- . Tel. 1300 85 85 84
- Youth Support and Advocacy Tel. 1800 458 685
- . Tel. 1800 888 236
- – for counselling and referral
- Family Drug . Tel. 1300 660 068
- . Tel. 13 22 89
For information or advice on drug test kits for parents, talk to Andatech on 1300 800 200.
Australian Drug Foundation https://adf.org.au/family/teenagers/identifying-drug-use/