Sunday, September 18, 2005

Get outta here - When did this happen?

Ah, the miracles of modern science. I had never heard of the concept of home drug testing, but there it was, right in front of me on the Target Store website. Drug tests available in two flavors, marijuana or cocaine.

Now I live in San Francisco, which houses approximately 40 pot clubs within its 49 square mile city limits. The citizens here definitely mozy to a different drummer. If there is a war on weed we are the headquarters of the insurgency. So I've got to admit that while I can quote you the prices on the various offerings in the club across the street (Goldstar Bud Shake @ $35 an 1/8th oz. is the best deal) I am not really up to date on efforts to combat the so called "problem" of pot smoking.

My first thought on seeing the kits was to wonder what parents who have to stoop to using a modified police tool to check up on their kids were going to do if the results came back positive? Would they order a "home holding cell" from Sears? Seems to me that if you are using an industrial strength drug test on your kid, the time has long passed for sitting down and having a "heart to heart" talk.

I decided to see what medical professionals had to say about the tests. I found a study done for Pediatrics magazine. The 3 researchers (2 of whom were doctors) looked at a slew of home drug tests which were available over the Internet. The tests included ones such as Target is selling, as well as others which include urine and/or hair testing.

The medical professionals were not impressed. Here is a summery of the test as published on the Kids Health website.

"Researchers noted that these tests have a high potential for false-positive or false-negative results because of inaccurate testing procedures. Also, the sites offered inconsistent advice on whether a child's specimen should be collected without his or her consent, and often implied that a parent should take a child's specimen even if he or she refused to give it. Most of the websites also did not offer information about what to do if a child tested positive for drugs or how a parent-child relationship would be affected if a parent forced a child to submit to drug testing."

The researchers themselves said, in their report

" Laboratory testing for drugs of abuse is a technically challenging procedure, even for medical professionals. We found it difficult to decipher precisely which drugs are detected by many of the advertised kits."

"A second technical problem associated with home drug testing is the potential for false-positive and false-negative results. Although this potential exists with every laboratory screening procedure, drug testing is particularly complex and presents unique challenges..."

"Even if we assume that these products are accurately able to detect the presence or absence of a drug in the urine, the potential for misinterpretation by parents remains high. For example, interpretation of a true-positive test for cannabis, the drug most frequently used by adolescents, is not always straightforward."

" In addition, none of the sites described the different stages of drug use or gave parents insight into the different treatment needs for an experimental user versus a teen with a diagnosis of abuse or dependence, yet this distinction is critical in determining appropriate treatment."

" Home drug testing may be perceived by adolescents as invasive and a violation of their rights, potentially damaging the parent–child relationship."

"Another issue is that of the rights of an adolescent. Of the 8 sites in our review, only 1 gave clear advice that a child should not be drug tested against his or her will. According to the AAP, an adolescent who would experience negative consequences by refusing cannot truly give consent. This calls into question whether parents could ever obtain free, informed consent for drug testing from their own child."

In other words folks. Don't try this at home. Go mix yourself another drink, pop a Viagra and just chill.


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5:44 PM  

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