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Have you used drugs recently and want to see if they’re out of your system before a drug test? Or are you the parent of a teenager, and you have your suspicions that they might be using? If so, you might be considering purchasing a home drug testing kit. These tests can detect the presence of marijuana, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine, amphetamines, PCP, benzodiazepine, barbiturates, methadone, tricyclic antidepressants, ecstasy, and oxycodone. They might be useful in some situations, but keep in mind that no test is 100 percent accurate.

Most instant drug tests are urine tests. The person being tested will urinate in cup, and a lid will be screwed on. The lid contains various test strips, and the urine sample is exposed to certain chemical reagents within the test strip. Because the strips are made of an absorbent material, the sample encounters these chemicals in a specific order and at a specific speed. A chemical reaction occurs where the molecules in the test strips will turn a certain color if there are no drugs in the sample but will remain colorless in the presence of specific drugs. Usually, if the test comes back positive, you’ll send the sample off to a lab for further testing.

It’s important to follow through by sending the sample to a lab, because false positives are possible. Certain food, drink, supplements, and medications can affect the accuracy, as well as the way you performed the test and the way you stored the sample.

Some parents use home drug tests as a preventive measure. The idea – although there’s no actual scientific evidence supporting it – is that if kids know that they are likely to get tested on a regular basis, they’re less likely to try drugs because they know they’ll get caught. Other parents use the tests as a sort of investigative tool, if they’ve noticed their child acting strangely and suspect drugs might be to blame.

There are a couple of problems here. One is that no home drug test can check for the presence of every possible substance, so your teen might be using a different drug than the one you’re checking for. Also, it is possible that they might try to cheat the test. Five seconds of google searching will provide dozens of options to mask or dilute the presence of drugs. While drug tests performed in labs can catch this sort of thing, the home kits are too rudimentary. Finally, while the test can detect the presence of drugs, it can’t determine how much of the drug is in the person’s system.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) does not advocate home drug testing, and stresses that you should make adequate resources for assessment and treatment available in case your child does fail a drug test.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.



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