WHY SHOULD I TEST MY TEEN?
WARNING SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
HAVE THE "TALK"
- Changing friends/grades
- Quitting sports and clubs
- Disrespectful to adults
- Missing money in the home
- Running Away
- Sudden bad hygiene/bloodshot eyes/slurred speech/loss of weight
- Sloppy dress
- Heated verbal and physical outbursts
- Lack of interest in family unit
- Odor of burnt leaves on clothes
- Sleeping later than usual
- Unexplained expensive items in room
- Burnt small screens or Baggies in room.
- Small "grape like" seeds in carpet
- Frequent eye wash products
- Lack of future goals
Among the most common drug-related questions asked of parents is “Did you ever use drugs?” Unless the answer is “no,” it’s difficult to know what to say because nearly all parents who used drugs don’t want their children to do the same thing. Is this hypocritical?
No! We all want the best for our children. Today we have more information and we understand the hazards of drug use better than we did when we were their age and thought we were invincible. To guide our children’s decisions about drugs, we can now draw on credible real-life examples of friends who had trouble as a result of their drug use...the neighbor who caused a fatal car crash while high...the family member who got addicted...the teen who used marijuana for years, lost interest in school, and never really learned how to deal with adult life and its stresses.
Some parents who used drugs in the past choose to lie about it, but they risk losing their credibility if their children discover the truth. Many experts recommend that when a child asks this question, the response should be honest.
This doesn’t mean that parents need to recount every moment of their experiences. As in conversations about sex, some details should remain private, and you should avoid providing more information than is actually sought by your child. Ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand exactly why and what a child is asking before answering questions about your past drug use, and limit your response to that information.
This discussion provides a good opportunity for parents to speak frankly about what attracted them to drugs, why drugs are dangerous, what they know now that they didn’t know then, and why they want their children to avoid making the same mistake. There’s no perfect way to get this message across, only approaches that seem more fitting than others.
Be prepared to answer if your child asks, "Did you ever use drugs?" Here are some possible responses to your child's questions:
- "I took drugs because some of my friends used them, and I thought I needed to in order to fit in. In those days, people didn't know as much as they do now about all the bad things that can happen when you smoke marijuana or do other drugs. If I'd known then what I know now, I never would have tried them, and I'll do everything I can to keep you away from drugs."
- "Everyone makes mistakes, and when I used drugs, I made a big one. I'm telling you about this, even though it's embarrassing, because I love you, and I want to save you from making the same stupid decision that I made when I was your age. You can learn from my mistakes without repeating them."
- "I did drugs because I was bored and wanted to take some risks, but I soon found that I couldn't control the risks - they were controlling me. There are much better ways of challenging yourself than doing drugs."
- "At your age, between homework, friends, sports, and other interests, there are a lot of fun things going on. If you get into taking drugs, you're pretty much giving up those other things, because you may stop being able to concentrate, control your moods or keep to a schedule. You'll miss out on all these great experiences, and you'll never get those times back."
- "You don't know how your body will react to drugs. Some people can get addicted really quickly or can get really sick or even die using a drug for the first time."
- "I started drinking/doing drugs when I was young, and I've been battling them ever since. They made me miss a big part of growing up, and every day I have to stay positive so they don't make me miss more - my job, my relationships, and my time with you. I love you too much to watch you fight a similar battle."
Parents should state clearly to their pre-teens and teens that they would be very disappointed if they started using marijuana. Parents may also want to explain that marijuana use interferes with young people’s concentration, memory, and motor skills, and that it interferes with motivation, leads to poorer school performance, and can cause users to disappoint the people most important to them. All of this can be communicated in a loving way: “I love you and I want the best for you, so I hope you won’t try marijuana.” Some parents who saw marijuana being widely used in their youth still wonder, “Is marijuana really so bad for my child?” The answer is an emphatic “yes!” Not convinced...need more reasons?
MAKE CLEAR RULES
- Marijuana is illegal.
- Marijuana now exists in forms that are stronger - with higher levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient - than in the 1960s.
- Studies show that someone who smokes five joints a week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day.
- Hanging around users of marijuana often means being exposed not only to other illegal drugs, but also to a lifestyle that can include trouble in school, engaging in sexual activity while young, unintended pregnancy, difficulties with the law, and other problems.
- Marijuana use can slow down reaction time and distort perceptions. This can interfere with athletic performance, decrease a sense of danger, and increase risk of injury.
- Regular marijuana users can lose the ability to concentrate that is needed to master important academic skills, and they can experience short-term memory loss. Habitual marijuana users tend to do worse in school and are more likely to drop out altogether.
- Teens who rely on marijuana as a chemical crutch and refuse to face the challenges of growing up never learn the emotional, psychological, and social lessons of adolescence.
- The research is not complete on the effects of marijuana on the developing brain and body.
Discuss the consequences of breaking the rules. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, what will the punishment be and how will it be carried out? Research shows that young people are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs if their parents set clear rules about not doing so. If parents have not previously established rules around more basic activities of daily living, however, they will have little chance of getting their children to obey a rule about not using marijuana, tobacco, or other drugs.
Here are some rulemaking tips:
MAKE YOUR POSITION CLEAR
- Set clear rules - and discuss in advance the consequences of breaking them. Don’t make empty threats or let the rule-breaker off the hook. Don’t impose harsh or unexpected new punishments.
- The rules must be consistently enforced; every time a child breaks the rules the parent should enforce a “punishment.”
- “Punishments” should involve mild, not severe, negative consequences. Overly severe punishments serve to undermine the quality of the parent-child relationship.
- Set a curfew. And enforce it strictly. Be prepared to negotiate for special occasions.
- Have kids check in at regular times when they’re away from home or school. Give them a phone card, change or even a pager with clear rules for using it. (“When I beep you, I expect a call back within 15 minutes.”)
- Call parents whose home is to be used for a party. On party night, don’t be afraid to stop in to say hello (and make sure that adult supervision is in place).
- Make it easy to leave a party where drugs are being used. Discuss in advance how to signal you or another designated adult who will come to pick your child up the moment he or she feels uncomfortable. Later, be prepared to talk about what happened.
- Listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to intervene if your gut reaction tells you that something is wrong.
Make your position clear when it comes to dangerous substances like alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Don’t assume that your children know where you stand. They want you to talk to them about drugs. State your position clearly; if you’re ambiguous, children may be tempted to become involved with tobacco products, alcohol or other drugs. Tell your children that you forbid them to use alcohol, tobacco, and drugs because you love them. (Don’t be afraid to pull out all the emotional stops. You can say, “If you took drugs it would break my heart.”) Make it clear that this rule holds true even at other people’s houses. Will your child listen? Most likely. According to research, when a child decides whether or not to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, a crucial consideration is “What will my parents think?”
Praise Positive Behavior
What encourages a kid more than his or her parents’ approval? The right word at the right time can strengthen the bond that helps keep your child away from drugs. Emphasize the things your kid does right and restrain the urge to be critical. Try to:
Learn to Listen
- Reward good behavior consistently and immediately. Expressions of love, appreciation and thanks go a long way. Even kids who think themselves too old for hugs will appreciate a pat on the back or a special treat.
- Accentuate the positive. Emphasize the things your kid does right. Rein in the urge to be critical. Affection and respect — making your child feel good about himself — will reinforce good (and change bad) behavior far more successfully than embarrassment or uneasiness.
Just talking to your child is only half the job. You can keep the lines of communication open by knowing how to listen and when to talk. Your child will tell you about the sights and sounds that influence him or her every day — they are the experts about fashion, music, TV, and movies that people their age follow.
Ask your child what music groups are popular and what their songs are about, what his friends like to do after school, what’s cool and what’s not and why. Encourage your child with phrases such as “That’s interesting” or “I didn’t know that,” and by asking follow-up questions. Try these tips:
Talk With Your Kids
- Encourage your children to feel comfortable telling you about problems they may be having and asking you for help.
- You might try rephrasing a child’s comments to indicate that you have understood or give nonverbal support and encouragement by nodding and smiling.
- Use a caring tone of voice to answer a child and use encouraging phrases to express interest and to keep the conversation going.
Introducing the topic of drugs
- In conversations with your child, steer the subject to drugs and why they’re harmful.
- If you can ingrain this information in your children well before they are faced with making difficult choices, experts say they’ll be more likely to avoid rather than use. In fact, teenagers who say they’ve learned a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are much less likely to try marijuana than those who say they’ve learned nothing from them.
- You don’t need to fear that by introducing the topic of drugs, you’re “putting ideas” into your children’s heads, any more than talking about traffic safety might make them want to jump in front of a car. You’re letting them know about potential dangers in their environment so that when they’re confronted with them, they’ll know what to do.
- Children in late elementary school need to be warned specifically about not using inhalants. There are a number of common household substances that some young people of this age will try inhaling. Parents must be encouraged to warn their children that even one instance of inhaling can lead to severe brain damage or even death.
- Parents should also use some of their good conversation time with children and adolescents to make it clear that they don’t want them to use marijuana. Parents should state clearly to their pre-teens and teens that they would be very disappointed if they started using marijuana. Parents may also want to explain that marijuana use interferes with young people’s concentration, memory, and motor skills, and that it interferes with motivation, leads to poorer school performance, and can cause users to disappoint the people most important to them. All of this can be communicated in a loving way: “I love you and I want the best for you, so I hope you won’t try marijuana.”
If you hear something you don’t like (perhaps a friend smokes marijuana or your child confesses to trying beer at a party), it is important not to react in any way that cuts off further discussion. If he seems defensive or assures you that he doesn’t know anyone who uses drugs, ask him why he thinks people use them.
Discuss whether the risks are worth what people may get out of using them and whether he thinks it would be worth it to take the risks. Even without addiction, experimentation is too great a gamble. One bad experience, such as being high and misjudging how long it takes to cross a busy street, can change — or end - a life forever. If something interrupts your conversation, pick it up the next chance you get.
Help With Peer Pressure
No matter where children grow up or who their friends are, nearly all of them are confronted at some time or another by friends with bad ideas - ways of testing limits, getting in trouble, and doing things they’ll regret later. It’s not so hard saying, “No thanks, I have to go now” to a stranger. But it’s a lot tougher when a child’s friend - especially one whose approval means a lot to him or her — tries to get them to do something they know is wrong.
Even “good kids” occasionally pester their friends into skipping a class or lying about why they were out together so late. But if friends or acquaintances entice your children to try tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, the consequences can be more serious. The best way to prepare children to succeed in these encounters is to “role play” - practice similar scenarios in advance. With the right words at the tip of their tongue, children can assert their independence while making it clear that they’re rejecting their friends’ choices and not the friends themselves.
Here is a potential role-playing scenario for you to try with your daughter (You can turn the scenario around for your boys, or come up with other scenarios that fit the same pattern — anything to get your children to practice their own resistance skills):
Take the role of a boy she likes and try to persuade her to share a six-pack of beer with you. What can she say? "You’re such a jerk!" is alienating. "I don’t know..." leaves the door open and sounds like she could be coaxed. The middle ground, in which she’s firm but friendly, works best. Help her rehearse key phrases that give reasons for why she simply won’t have a beer.
Here are some role-playing ideas:
- My parents would kill me if they found out, and they always find out!"
- "No, I’m not into that stuff."
- "I tried it once, and I hate the taste."
- "My parents trust me to not drink, and I don’t want to break that trust."
Or she could state the consequences of drinking:
- "I tried it once and ended up vomiting on everything!"
- "Drinking would make me feel out of control, and I hate that."
They’ll need to be prepared for protests. They can meet them with the "broken record" technique, in which they repeat their reason for not drinking over and over until attempts at persuading them cease. Or they can make it clear that the discussion about beer is over by changing the subject: "Did you watch the basketball game last night?" or "Hey, do you know if that concert’s sold out?" If all else fails, they could just leave the scene, saying, "I’ve got to go."
Open an Ongoing Conversation
Although virtually all parents in America (98 percent) say they’ve talked with their children about drugs, only 27 percent of teens - roughly one in four - say they’re learning a lot at home about the risks of drugs, according to a new national study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA). “There aren’t enough hours in the day.” Sometimes it’s frustrating how few chances there are to have conversations about drugs with our children. In our busy culture, with families juggling the multiple demands of work, school, after-school activities, and religious and social commitments, it can be a challenge for parents and children to be in the same place at the same time. Yet the better you communicate, the more at ease your child will feel about discussing drugs and other sensitive issues with you.
Here are some tips:
- Be absolutely clear with your kids that you don’t want them using drugs. Ever. Anywhere. Don’t leave room for interpretation. And talk often about the dangers and results of drug and alcohol abuse. Once or twice a year won’t do it.
- Be a better listener. Ask questions - and encourage them. Paraphrase what your child says to you. Ask for their input about family decisions. Showing your willingness to listen will make your child feel more comfortable about opening up to you.
- Give honest answers. Don’t make up what you don’t know; offer to find out. If asked whether you’ve ever taken drugs, let them know what’s important: that you don’t want them using drugs.
- Use TV reports, anti-drug commercials, or school discussions about drugs to help you introduce the subject in a natural, unforced way.
- Don’t react in a way that will cut off further discussion. If your child makes statements that challenge or shock you, turn them into a calm discussion of why your child thinks people use drugs, or whether the effect is worth the risk.
- Role play with your child and practice ways to refuse drugs in different situations. Acknowledge how tough these moments can be.
The most common drugs of abuse we see in teenagers are:
Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. There are over 200 slang terms for marijuana including "pot," "herb," "weed," "boom," "Mary Jane," "gangster," and "chronic." It is usually smoked as a cigarette (called a joint or a nail) or in a pipe or bong. In recent years, marijuana has appeared in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug, such as crack. Some users also mix marijuana into foods or use it to brew tea. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). In 1988, it was discovered that the membranes of certain nerve cells contain protein receptors that bind THC. Once securely in place, THC kicks off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana. The short term effects of marijuana use include problems with memory and learning; distorted perception; difficulty in thinking and problem-solving; loss of coordination; and increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Methamphetamine is a HIGHLY addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain. Methamphetamine is closely related chemically to amphetamine, but the central nervous system effects of methamphetamine are greater. Both drugs have some medical uses, primarily in the treatment of obesity, but their therapeutic use is limited. Methamphetamine is made in illegal laboratories and has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Street methamphetamine is referred to by many names, such as "speed," "meth," and "chalk." Methamphetamine hydrochloride, clear chunky crystals resembling ice, which can be inhaled by smoking, is referred to as "ice," "crystal," and "glass." It has become the drug of choice in the last 5 years.
OPI (Opiates / Heroin)
Heroin is a highly addictive drug, and its use is a serious problem in America. Recent studies suggest a shift from injecting heroin to snorting or smoking because of increased purity and the misconception that these forms of use will not lead to addiction. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Street names for heroin include "smack," "H," "skag," and "junk." Other names may refer to types of heroin produced in a specific geographical area, such as "Mexican black tar." Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins, and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. Once having tried cocaine, an individual cannot predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug. The major routes of administration of cocaine are sniffing or snorting, injecting, and smoking (including free-base and crack cocaine). Snorting is the process of inhaling cocaine powder through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Injecting is the act of using a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream. Smoking involves inhaling cocaine vapor or smoke into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream is as rapid as by injection.
"Crack" is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking. Rather than requiring the more volatile method of processing cocaine using ether, crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus producing a form of cocaine that can be smoked. The term "crack" refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked (heated), presumably from the sodium bicarbonate. There is great risk whether cocaine is ingested by inhalation (snorting), injection, or smoking. It appears that compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked rather than snorted. Smoking allows extremely high doses of cocaine to reach the brain very quickly and brings an intense and immediate high. The injecting drug user is at risk for transmitting or acquiring HIV infection/AIDS if needles or other injection equipment are shared.
Alabama MedScreen, Inc.
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Standard "Adolescent and Private" Drug Testing Fee Schedule
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- $25.00 each
5 panel (Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, Opiates)
Accurate test for drug use in the last 72 hours
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Accurate test for drug use in the last 3-5 days
Results availabale in 48 hours and court admissable
Hair Follicle Drug Test
- $90.00 each
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Accurate test for drug use in the last 30-60 days
Results availabale in 48 hours and court admissable
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- $25.00 each
Accurate test for alcohol use in the last 6 hours
Breath Alcohol Test (EBT)
Accurate test for alcohol use in the last 12 hours
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Private and After Hours Mobile Testing available upon request.
Testing for additional drugs available upon request.
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