This guest post is by 30 year veteran treatment and addiction
specialist Tim Chapman, for the blog Myteensavers.wordpress.com and
Myteensavers.com, sites aimed at educating families about the growing
teen drug culture, and the growing substance abuse problem among
children as young as 9 years old.
It’s not an easy debate. To test or not to test? The issue
of home drug testing has its obvious detractors. Find me a teen who
says, “sure mom and dad, let me pee in that cup for you.” That
probably won’t happen too often. You would think that clean teens
would have nothing to fear, yet many still object to the notion of
proving to their parents that they are drug free. Teens are the
rebellious ones, right? Surprisingly, there are many parents who
refuse to test their teens. There are numerous pros and cons for
drug testing teens at home.
In talking with parents who believe home drug testing is a bad
idea, many say it is wrong to force the tests on their children.
The biggest con:
It’s an invasion of privacy. But it is pretty simple really. Parenting
is another word for protecting. When you have a child, you are
responsible for them. This
includes protecting them and steering them down the right path in
life. When a child eventually becomes an adult, they are free to make
their own mistakes. After all, part of what shapes our lives, is
learning from our mistakes. But teens aren’t too savvy when it comes
to knowing right and wrong at 14, 15, or 16 years old. There is an
abundance of peer pressure as a teen. Find a parent who wasn’t
offered alcohol or worse in high school. High school is filled with
Friday and Saturday parties. It doesn’t even take a party for there
to be poor choices and substance abuse. Teens attend their high
school football games, the movies, and other social events under the
Some parents believe alcohol is a rite of passage in high
school. They are aware their teens drink, and as long as little
Johnny or Amber make it home okay, then there’s no problem. But
early drinkers tend to try other substances. Marijuana is typically
the next step for teens. 15 states have legalized medicinal
marijuana. That means more marijuana is falling into the hands of
teens. It comes in cookies, brownies, and other treats that
lead some children to believe that since they aren’t smoking it,
marijuana isn’t that harmful. Parents cannot accept this ignorance.
And the biggest problem these days is already at home. And it’s free.
Teen prescription drug abuse is a serious issue. Home drug
testing detects whether your teen is smoking pot or popping pills.
caring for their lives.
Teens often argue that they should be given the benefit of the
doubt. It’s perhaps the second biggest argument against taking
a drug test. They claim that it’s a violation of trust. But parents are
really preparing teens for a road of proving their abstinence.
That same teen is going to work for a company at some point,
whether it’s a menial summer job in high school, or a career
position after earning their
college degree. Are they going to refuse when they are told that
their hiring is contingent on a passing of a drug test? Also
tested routinely, are athletes.
Seattle Seahawks QB tweeted this week that he just gave his 11th
test this season. If a teen has a promising sports future, which
could include a college scholarship or
professional sports contract, do you want them blowing it, with a
simple mistake made at a high school party? The average tuition
for a four-year public school student is around $40,000. Private
schools can cost that much annually. Wouldn’t a drug test protect
Clear communication is the key to detecting a drug problem,
whether or not parents test their teens. We all want our kids to be
truthful about everything they tell us in life, but we know that
doesn’t happen. Parents need to be involved with teens. They need
to ask them questions about their activities, about their friends, and
they need to watch for changes in behavior. They should also
communicate with other parents. Communities keep children safe and
protect families. Drugs decimate teens and destroy families. Home drug
tests shouldn’t offend teens, they are a message of love. Parents care.
Their mission in life isn’t to punish their children, it’s to
nurture and care for them.
Should all parents test their teens? No. But they should consider
testing them when they notice changes in their teen’s attitude,
work ethic, or behavior. If your child came home with a black
eye, broken arm, or other physical change, wouldn’t you demand to know
how they got it? Why wouldn’t you treat a change in emotional
behavior the same way? Home drug tests are not the enemy.
Teenagers perceive them as one, but home drug test kits are a safety
net. They can detect a small problem before it’s a full-blown problem.
Home drug test kits do not have to come between parents and
children. They can help build a bond of trust by confirming that
the teen is being honest about being drug free. Teens have this
perception that their parents are spying on them. However, parents want
to see their children succeed in life without being derailed by
alcohol or drugs.
Teens have no problem showing their parents an “A” grade on a
Why wouldn’t they be proud to show off a clean drug test? Teens
should take pride in
being drug free. There’s a time in elementary and middle school when
students proudly wear their D.A.R.E. shirts and bracelets, declaring
“just say no to drugs.” But somewhere they are losing the message.
Tim Chapman, CSAC, founder of Chapman house and Teensavers