According to a recent study, drug use among children ages 11 to 14 is on the rise. Researchers say that more than half of middle school children say that drugs are used, kept, or sold at their schools.
One option for a parent who suspects that a child is using drugs is to use a home drug testing kit. Such kits can be used to test children or adults.
One of those recently approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration is called Quickscreen. The urine sample kit can screen for seven drugs, including marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and PCP.
The kit includes test strips that provide preliminary results within minutes at home. If the test is positive, the sample is then sent to a lab for confirmation.
Other kits are available. Some ask for urine samples while others test strands of hair.
Some products come with empty test tubes for urine samples. Parents mail the test tubes to a lab where the urine is screened for drugs. The results are ready within three days and are available by phone. For privacy, an individual code is used to identify the test results.
Other home kits ask for a hair sample cut from close to the scalp. The sample is sent to a lab, using a special card and envelope. Within five days, the screening should be complete. Once again, a private code is used to call in for the test results.
Most tests range from $40 to $60, including the laboratory fees. Manufacturers say the test can detect drug usage for the past 90 days. The urine test usually detects the past 2-4 days.
There are pros and cons for both tests. The urine kit is the most familiar testing method and has been approved by the FDA. However, urine samples can also be tampered with and contaminated, yielding inaccurate results.
While a hair sample may seem easier to collect and may indicate drug usage beyond the past few days, no hair sample kit has been approved by the government.
Some drugs stay in the body's system for only a few hours. Others, such as marijuana, can be detected for up to 28 days. Whether drug use can be detected also depends on the person's height and weight and how quickly they metabolize the substance.
Reported By Dr. Emily Senay