More Kids Face Home Drug Tests! 

More Kids Face Home Drug Tests! 
Posted by FoM on January 02, 1999 at 05:29:50 PT

Thanks to thousands of parents' suspicions that their teens' pierced tongues and falling grades are red flags for drug use, the home drug test kit industry is revving up, joining the legion of at-home medical tests already crowding store shelves.
Atlanta-based Parents Alert says it's getting 1,700 inquiries about its product every month, and Dr. Brown's Home Drug Testing System boasts as many as 8,000 orders each month.The first kit that allowed parents to learn results instantly, Phamatech's QuickScreen at Home Drug Test, received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in October. Other kits require their users to send urine specimens to a laboratory.``We've got a tremendous amount of demand for the product,'' said Lorraine Cogan, product manager for Phamatech. Nationally, about 70 drugstores began stocking the kit last month.Part of the wave of over-the-counter kits that allow consumers to test for everything from HIV to colon cancer, home drug tests have become wildly popular because they give parents an alternative to rooting through their teens' jeans and closets.Still, the kits pose a thorny problem: Teens regard their privacy as sacrosanct and can interpret the kit as a not-so-subtle message that their parents don't trust them enough to take their word that they're not doing drugs.Evanston Township High School student Nora Brank said her relationship with her parents would change if they ever asked her to submit to a home drug test.``My parents should trust me enough to know I'd tell the truth,'' said Brank, 17. Forcing her to take the test ``would disturb the natural order of things in my family. I would totally disrespect them.''Fellow student Robert Bartelt said he has nothing to hide and would take the test if asked, though he'd regard it as an invasion of privacy.``I basically tell my parents everything,'' said Bartelt, 18. ``If they were to force me to take a drug test, I'd be like, `Fine, I've done this and this, that's what the drug test will show.' But I think it's kind of bogus that they'd be prying into my personal life.''An Aurora father whose 15-year-old daughter recently was caught drinking wine before high school volleyball practice says she probably would bristle at the thought of a test, but if he suspected she was drinking again, he would make her undergo it anyway.``It's so easy for some kids to pull the wool over their parents' eyes,'' said the father, who asked not to be identified. ``And if parents suspect something, it's a lot easier to take care of this at home.''The key for parents, said Donald Phelps, executive director of a Naperville-based drug treatment center called Breaking Free, is seeing enough red flags--and the right red flags--to warrant subjecting their child to a drug test.``I've seen a few situations where parents use it as a preventive measure,'' Phelps said. ``But more often than not, it's used by parents who suspect something--the kid's grades have dropped, or there's gang involvement, or he's hanging out with the wrong people.''Sunny Cloud, founder of the Atlanta, Ga.-based home drug test company called Parents Alert, recommends to parents that they first lay down ground rules with their children before requiring the test.``They need to sit down with their kids and explain what behavior is of concern with them, and that the drug test will be a consequence when certain lines are crossed,'' Cloud said.Cloud had good reason to start a home drug test company: Six years ago, she went home and found her 15-year-old son smoking marijuana in the living room. She took him to a local emergency room for a drug test.``I started thinking about it and thought to myself, `We're losing the war on drugs, and there's only two examples of success in prevention: the workplace and the military. And they have a common denominator--the drug test.' ''Most tests check for an array of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, PCP, speed, methamphetamines and barbiturates. The tests range in cost from $30 to $45. At least one company, Parents Home Drug Testing, also offers a device called Drugwipe that detects minute amounts of drug residue on any surface.Another test, the PDT-90 Personal Drug Testing System, allows parents to send a sample of their teen's hair to a lab to find out if he or she has been using drugs.FDA spokeswoman Sharon Snider said the agency allows home drug tests to go on the market without prior approval as long as the laboratory performing the test is certified to do drug screening and uses methodology recognized by the FDA as accurate and reliable.Phamatech's test had to undergo FDA approval because it gives parents immediate results at home. Cogan said Phamatech's test is 95 percent accurate.
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