Holding Your Teen Accountable: When Should Programs for Troubled Youth be Considered?

Accountability: 5 Easy Ways to Drug Test Your Child at Home

To protect their teens, parents must be mindful of the preventative measures they can employ and asses whether or not it is right for their family. For example, the option to drug test your teen at home is a decision that should not be taken lightly, but an option that can help keep teenagers safe. If this is the right choice for you, how do you reliably carry out a drug test in your own home? You might be surprised to learn that there are many dependable home drug testing options available.  In addition to drug testing, detection and prevention are also of extreme high priority. If you suspect your teen is addicted to drugs, and your drug test has confirmed that fact, programs for troubled youth such as wilderness therapy should also be considered as a next step.

Should You Drug Test Your Teen?

Regular testing can be an effective way to prevent drug use. Sometimes, even just the threat of a random drug test is enough to prevent teens from engaging in drug use. Though it’s a parent’s authority to drug test their teen, it’s important to establish whether doing so will bring about more harm than good. If your child has a history of good behavior, isn’t acting suspiciously, and you have no reason to suspect they are abusing drugs or alcohol, then drug testing may injure your relationship. It could create resentment, communication barriers, and distrust that would not exist otherwise.

For teens that have abused drugs or alcohol for quite some time, it’s often the case that the parent/child relationship has already suffered significant damage. Trust is usually broken. Drug testing can actually re-establish trust by providing your teen an opportunity to earn privileges when he or she refrains from destructive behavior. Home testing also equips teens to them to make the right choices independently in the future. For teens stuck in a vicious cycle of drug or alcohol abuse, home testing may be an obvious requirement.

A history of drug or alcohol abuse isn’t the only factor that may warrant administering home drug tests. Before determining whether suspicious behaviors indicate drug or alcohol abuse, consider the alternatives. Your teen could be going through a personal issue that requires your love and support. That said, there are some red flags to be aware of. Some of these indicators include:

  • Sudden withdrawal or isolation
  • New social group and activities
  • Cutting ties with former friends
  • Grades begin to slip
  • Defensive and confrontational behavior

Before deciding to drug test your teen, discuss it with a doctor or therapist. Parents should know that The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes home drug testing without the child’s knowledge.

How To Drug Test Your Teen

If drug testing your teen is the right choice, rather than turning to an external lab, here are five simple home options:

    1. Urine tests: The most simple and common way to test for drugs is through a urine test. These tests are easy to administer and provide almost immediate results on a range of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, and benzodiazepines. Urine tests indicate a person’s most recent drug use and when administered
    2. properly, are highly effective.
    3. Saliva tests: If urine collection is a problem, home saliva kits are available to test for the same range of drugs as urine tests.
    4. Hair tests: Hair tests offer a more in-depth breakdown, providing not only which drugs a person has used, but also the frequency and duration of their drug use. The downfall is that hair samples need to be sent to a lab for analysis, but there are many kits available that allow you to correctly collect and prepare that sample for testing.
    5. Alcohol breathalyzers: Breathalyzers test for an individual’s blood alcohol level. They are small, portable, and produce results almost immediately.
    6. Sweat patch testing: Relatively new, sweat patch testing has become an effective alternative because it is non-invasive and has an increased window of detection. Worn for up to ten days on the skin, sweat patches also act as a deterrent.

If drug testing is right for you, then it is best combined with another treatment or therapy program as part of an overall holistic approach or additional programs for troubled youth through wilderness therapy. Eventually, your teen will need to live independently, so they must be able to make healthy choices for themselves. Drug testing shouldn’t just be a “scare tactic” used to threaten a teen; it should be part of a comprehensive strategy to establish accountability and strong decision making skills. By monitoring your teen’s choices on a regular basis—in a healthy and positive way—you can parent your teen in a manner that both protects them today and ensures they are prepared for adulthood.