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Drug Testing Your Teen
Every adolescent is different, and experimenting with drugs and/ or alcohol is common amongst the youth of America. Drug testing provides clear information on whether or not your teenager has been using drugs.
There are several different types of drug testing nowadays, and the specific type will depend on certain factors. Certain types of drug testing will provide varying levels of detail regarding a teenager’s drug use. The decision of whether or not to drug test your teen can be a difficult one, and enlisting the assistance of a medical or mental health specialist can be very helpful.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use
Every drug will have its own set of symptoms and effects associated with its use. There are, however, certain signs and symptoms that a parent can look out for when it comes to drug or alcohol abuse. Teens using drugs can exhibit and any combination of the following examples:
- Changes in hygiene practices
- Weight fluctuations
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Changes in friends
- Exhibiting bizarre behaviors
- Excessive eating, or changes in appetite
Teenagers go through an incredible amount of growth and transition during their adolescence and some of the above symptoms may simply be a side effect of growing up. It is helpful to try to establish a sense of trust with your teenager, and if drug testing comes into the mix, to be clear that it is being done to keep your child safe and continue to build a trusting relationship.
Types of Drug Tests
There are several types of drug testing that can be conducted, each with different benefits.
- Urine Drug Testing:Urine testing is the most common form of drug testing, as it is one of the least invasive tests. It has the ability to show the presence of a drug in one’s system once its effects have worn off (though the length of time will differ depending on the drug).
- Saliva Drug:Also known as a mouth swab test, saliva drug tests show the presence of drugs in one’s system, but can only detect drug use from at most three days prior.
- Blood Drug Testing:Blood testing is one of the more invasive types of drug tests available. It has the ability to detect the presence of drugs in one’s blood. Additionally, there is very little possibility of a blood test being adulterated.
- Hair Drug Testing:Hair testing is used to determine long-term drug use. It has the ability to detect drug use as far back as ninety days, and in some cases longer.
It is important to note, that drug testing is common for many reasons in a teenager’s life. For example, some sports teams or extracurricular activities will require a drug test to allow participation. Not every teenager that uses drugs and/ or alcohol will need to be tested. Some teens will be honest about their substance use, and others may be deceitful. It is important to maintain an open line of communication and listen to your teen when it comes to this subject. If there is concern that your teen may be in danger, lying about their substance use, and/ or are concerned for their wellbeing as it relates to possible drug use, there is no physical harm in drug testing.
For Information and Support
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact an individual for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.
Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement. Alcohol Use by Youth and Adolescents: A Pediatric Concern. Pediatrics 2010 125: 1078-1087.
- Lab Tests Online. Drugs of Abuse Testing. Accessed February 7, 2019. http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/drug-abuse/tab/sample
- “National Institute on Drug Abuse,” a division of the National Institutes of Health 2017.http://www.nida.nih.gov
- US HealthWorks Medical Group. Instant Drug Testing / Breath Alcohol Testing. Accessed February 9, 2019 at http://www.ushealthworks.com/Services/Occupational-Medicine/Drug-Testing.html