Pushing boundaries is a fairly standard part of adolescence, even for generally mature and responsible children. However, some teens are more likely to rebel than others, and drug use is a common way for teenagers to break free from the limits set by their parents.
If your child is demonstrating signs of drug use, like hanging out with a new friend group, a drop in grades, disinterest in former hobbies, and violations like breaking curfew, a home drug test can help you get to the bottom of this behavior.
Drug Testing Your Teen
Drug testing your teen may be a controversial choice, but it is one many parents make in an effort to put the brakes on a newfound drug habit before the situation escalates out of control. For example, teens who have just discovered marijuana and have been caught smoking with friends are likely not yet addicted but may suffer consequences down the road without appropriate interference now. Additionally, drug testing can ensure teens in recovery are staying sober if a parent suspects otherwise.
Upon seeing signs of drug use, a drug test is often a first instinct for parents. However, a simple discussion may provide everything you need to know. Prior to moving forward with a drug test, find time to talk to your teen. Explain your concerns and ask for his open honesty related to drug use. If he is willing to speak with you, you may learn the extent of any experimentation so that you can put an appropriate plan in place. However, if your teen isn't willing to talk, a conversation may not yield the information you need.
If you make the choice to drug test your teen, be clear about your intentions. Do not attempt to test without your teen's knowledge; instead, let him know plainly that you are requesting a drug test to ensure there is no drug abuse in your home.
Types of Tests
Drug tests come in several different forms, each with its own pros and cons.
The easiest and most affordable form of drug test, urine tests can be purchased over the counter in any major pharmacy. Most are relatively affordable in price, costing anywhere between $5 and $35, depending on the brand and substances tested. Urine tests can be easily accommodated at home and do not require extensive processing.
However, urine tests aren't perfect, and many limit the available options to mainstream drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Most hallucinogenics and some prescription drugs are usually not included, making it hard to tell if your teen is using options like LSD or Adderall. Some tests only apply to a single drug as well, so shop around before making a selection.
Hair drug tests are considered to be far more specific than urine tests. They are also more sensitive, as many drugs leave traces in the hair days or weeks longer than a urine test can detect.
While hair tests are sold over the counter, they can't usually be processed at home. Instead, a hair sample taken from the root will need to be packaged and mailed to a lab to determine results. These tests are often significantly more expensive, ranging between $100 to $125, largely due to the processing requirements.
Blood tests are very sensitive and can be used to test for virtually any substance. However, unlike hair and urine tests that can be used at home, a blood test often entails a trip to a doctor or other medical professional. For most parents, the costs and effort required to obtain a blood test are too inconvenient for home testing. However, for teens who abuse atypical substances not often included in home tests, this may be an option.
Presence of Common Substances
Not all substances can be tested for easily, complicating the results you see when utilizing home drug tests. Additionally, all drugs have different lives within the body, making it harder to test for drugs unless testing occurs immediately after use. While results vary based on metabolism, gender, age, and amount used, these are the average durations of common drugs.
- Alcohol: one to 12 hours
- Amphetamines: 24 hours for urine tests, 90 days for hair tests
- Barbiturates: 40 to 140 hours
- Cocaine: up to two weeks for urine tests, three to four months for hair tests
- Heroin: up to 48 hours
- Marijuana: up to 5 days for urine tests, one month or more for hair tests
- Methamphetamines: two to four days for urine tests, up to several months for hair tests
Beating Drug Tests
Many teens, especially those with a history of substance abuse and access to the internet, are savvy to the available ways to beat a drug test. The web is full of resources designed to help drug users from all walks of life test clean, so be on the lookout for these common ways to get around a standard urine test.
Synthetic or Swapped Urine
Believe it or not, synthetic urine is widely available online and can be used to fool a urine test. While easy to detect for professional labs, an at-home test often doesn't register the difference. Some teens may also purchase samples from their sober friends or the internet in order to trick their parents.
Due to the ways in which drugs build up in the body, flushing out the system, so to speak, can sometimes lessen the presence of drugs within urine. If you decide to test your teen, notify him close to the time you plan to request a sample to avoid the effects of water or cranberry juice cleanses.
Pills and Supplements
The drug testing industry is big business and as such, many companies have invented products designed specifically to remove traces of drugs from the body. Sold under names like Ready Clean, these substances purportedly mask traces of drugs in urine.
Should You Drug Test Your Teen?
As with all parenting choices, there's no right or wrong answer. For some families, the threat of a test can be enough to break a teen's rebellious habit, while others may find that in-home testing is only a stopgap to a more serious issue.
If you are concerned about drug use in your child, rehabilitation may be the best possible course of action. At Teen Treatment Center, we are prepared to help your teen find the right path, offering comprehensive detox and rehabilitation for those in need. Please contact us today at (844) 611-2175 to learn more about how our licensed facility can help your teen return to a happy, healthy life of sobriety.