When and why to use drug testing with teens

Watch Video: When and why to use drug testing with teens by Michael Dennis, PhD, ...
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When and why to use drug testing with teens

One of the questions parents often ask is whether they should use drug testing. There are two different situations here. The first situation is where you don't know if the teen is using drugs and you are using it as a way to figure out if they are using alcohol or drugs. This is a very appropriate use, but it's often difficult for a parent to decide when to do it, particularly, if they feel that it enters the question of trust. Most parents want to believe that their children are telling them the truth and it's very hard to introduce drug testing without making it sound like you don't trust them. I try to approach it as something that is not the measure of trust, it's the measure of measurement. Once the kid is in trouble, I need to know. If they are using, I'm going to know that they are going to lie to me about it. Even if they are trusting great kids, the odds are they will lie about it. There are home brands that you can pick up at an average pharmacy. You can pick them up off the internet that and average parent can read the directions and administer. They can go to a local treatment agency, and as part of an assessment, they will go through and do a urine test, typically sending it off to a lab. That's usually expensive. Now, once you know your teen is using, then you are trying to get them to stop and stay abstinent. Here, drug testing is an absolutely important tool in the toolbox. It's one of the bigger predictors, if they are being actively monitored, of who is able to enter and sustain recovery, if they are being actively monitored drug testing, and if there are consequences to it. You can turn these consequences around so that they are not negative. When the urine tests are clean, they are going to get something they want. The longer you go out in time with clean urine, the safer they are. For most teens, it takes at least 90 days before their risk of relapse is down. In fact, even if they have made it a year without any drug use, they still have about a 50 percent chance of relapsing.

Watch Video: When and why to use drug testing with teens by Michael Dennis, PhD, ...


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Michael Dennis, PhD


Michael Dennis, PhD, is a senior research psychologist and Director of the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center at Chestnut Health Systems in Normal, Illinois. Over the past 25 years his primary area of research has been to better understand and manage addiction and recovery over the life course. This includes multiple clinical trials to compare the effectiveness of adolescent treatment approaches and recovery support services, longitudinal studies with adolescents, adults and older adults to understand the predictors of entering and sustaining recovery, and creating the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center for teaching evidenced based assessment to support clinical decision making at the individual level and program evaluation. He has multiple awards for moving the field from science to practice, promoting diversity through practice based evidence and bringing more people into the field.

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