Tests Let Parents Check on Drug, Alcohol Use

Tests Let Parents Check on Drug, Alcohol Use
Posted by FoM on February 18, 2001 at 07:37:19 PT
By Connie Bloom, Beacon Journal Staff Writer 
Source: Akron Beacon Journal
In the Oscar-winning movie American Beauty, a regimented father wordlessly hands his son a cup for a urine drug screen. You could cut the tension between them with a knife.The scenario is not as unrealistic as you might think, as dozens of companies across the country are cranking out do-it-yourself drug and alcohol tests. Anyone who surfs the Internet can find an array of products, most well under $50, designed to screen for use of marijuana, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine and alcohol -- anathema to most parents of teen-agers. 
A few can be found locally on pharmacy shelves. Walgreens in Highland Square carries PDT-90, which tests for marijuana, cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine for $60, says pharmacist Will Hubert. Although you don't need a laboratory to administer the test, you have to mail a specimen -- in this case, a lock of the subject's hair -- to a lab. Still, PDT-90 gets in the front door.``We've gone through roughly one every other month, from parents concerned about their kids,'' says Hubert. ``They use them if there's a change in the child's behavior. They're not hot sellers, probably because of the cost.''PDT-90 cannot test for alcohol consumption -- the No. 1 drug choice of teen-agers -- because alcohol moves through the body so quickly. Although alcohol-related teen deaths are on the decline, thanks to designated driver and alcohol awareness programs, 2,210 kids died in alcohol-related crashes in the United States in 1998, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.As a result, home alcohol tests are finding a niche. One in particular, First Check Home Alcohol Test, has been on the shelves at Rite Aid Pharmacy in Fairlawn for two years, according to pharmacy manager Andy Elgendy. ``We have six boxes, an indication we sell a lot of them.''A box of three tests costs $9.99. Rite Aid carries one calibrated to .08 percent, just under Ohio's legal limit of .10. Separate tests can measure alcohol blood levels as low as .02 or as high as .10 percent. The subject blows into a tube filled with crystals that change color when exposed to alcohol. Results are visible in two minutes.The manufacturer, Worldwide Medical Corp., markets First Check to drinkers so they can test themselves before driving, a hedge against a possible DUI. But nothing prevents parents from administering the tests on their kids -- except, perhaps, the kids themselves.``I'd be very insulted,'' said Gabrielle Porco, 15, a freshman at Our Lady of the Elms in Akron. She was enjoying an after-school snack in the food court at Summit Mall. Her friends agreed that parents who would confront their children with a drug or alcohol test ``would show no trust of kids.''Nearby, a table of teen boys from Copley High School and Copley-Fairlawn Middle School said they'd also be insulted, but added a wrinkle. Alcohol tests are redundant, said Blake Traxler, 14, an eighth-grader. ``My mom smells my breath whenever I come home from parties.''Substance abuse counselors agree that anyone can smell alcohol, unless they're drinking it themselves.Nonetheless, home testing technology found open arms in Voorhees, N.J., last summer, when a former mayor persuaded the township to buy home alcohol tests to pass out free to parents. At $7 each, the community invested in 1,000 tests and a little peace of mind, but to mixed reviews.``We're for anything that keeps people from driving if they're impaired at a dangerous level,'' says Judy Mead, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Ohio. Her office hadn't heard about the home tests, she said, but ``anything in technology and science that can help keep impaired people off the road sounds like a good idea.''One way or another, it's critical that parents observe their children, says Ron Zumpano, manager of alcohol counseling services at Morley Health Center in Akron. He too was unaware of the home testing market, which he says raises concerns about accuracy as well as parental motivation.``I'm concerned that parents might use something like that as a substitute for being close and paying attention to one another,'' he said. Parents should remain alert to changes in a child's choice of friends, appearance and grades, rather than relying on a test. ``If a kid's under the influence, you can tell by observation,'' he said. ``However, you can say `I think I smell alcohol,' and they can say they haven't been drinking.'' When it gets down to he-said she-said, an objective test comes in handy.``Sometimes you'll say, `I smell alcohol and I have this pocket Breathalyzer,' '' Zumpano said, ``and before you use it, they'll say, well yes, they had a beer. . . . An objective measure can clear the air.''And if the test is positive, what then? He says, ``Kids need to know that even if they have just one beer, there's a consequence.'' Note: Area pharmacies sell kits, but observation is best bet.Connie Bloom is an Akron Beacon Journal staff writer. Contact her at 330-996-3568 or cbloom thebeaconjournal.comSource: Beacon Journal, The (OH) Author: Connie Bloom, Beacon Journal Staff WriterPublished: Sunday, February 18, 2001Address: 44 E. Exchange Street, P.O. Box 640, Akron OH 44328 Copyright: 2001 The Beacon Journal Publishing Co. Fax: (330) 996-3520 Contact:  vop Website: Feedback: CannabisNews Drug Testing Archives
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Comment #1 posted by J.R. Bob Dobbs on February 18, 2001 at 08:13:47 PT
Parents just don't understand
>>PDT-90 cannot test for alcohol consumption -- the No. 1 drug choice of teen-agers -- because alcohol moves through the body so quickly. Although alcohol-related teen deaths are on the decline, thanks to designated driver and alcohol awareness programs...  And all this without jailing a single responsible adult who chooses to drink alcohol in a safe setting. Wow. Without sending cops into schools to warn against the dangers of alcohol. Without the US Government sneaking in anti-alcohol messages into TV shows. Impressive. And teen cigarette smoking is also diminishing, even without a pogrom against responsible adult tobacco users. Interesting. >>``My mom smells my breath whenever I come home from parties.''  "That's why I switched to speedballing! Mom never checks for track-marks!"
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