Should Parents be Using More Drug Tests?

father talking to teenage son

With more than half of all high school students abusing drugs, should parents be drug testing their kids?

Parents should take note of recent reports on drug abuse among teens and young adults and also those that find that when parents speak out against drug abuse, drug abuse statistics are lower.

According to the most recent Monitoring the Future report on drug use among our schoolchildren, by the time they graduate from high school, more than half have abused an illicit drug or prescription drug. Is there anything parents should do to prevent drug use among their children or should they just rely on home or school drug tests?

Certainly, parents come in all shapes and sizes. Some hope their children will not use drugs, some are too wrapped up in other concerns to pay much attention to the matter and some take effective action to fight drug or alcohol abuse by their children. It can be hard to tell which path is the most effective.

Is the best route to skip drug education and simply administer frequent drug tests? Certainly drug tests are in the news, as the Ohio School Board deliberated on the best method of using random drug tests among students in performance and competitive events. And in Florida, the debate continued over whether or not it was proper to give welfare recipients drug tests as a condition of receiving their benefits.

On this point, parents can look to recent reports from the National Center on Addiction and Drug Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) for evidence of what methods are available to them to prevent drug abuse by their children.

According to CASA, something as simple as family dinners together makes a big difference. Look at this comparison, for example. CASA compared teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week) with those who have fewer than three per week.

Teens with fewer family dinners are:

  • Nearly four times as likely to use tobacco
  • More than twice as likely to drink alcohol
  • More than twice as likely to smoke marijuana
  • Almost four times as likely to say they expect to use drugs at some point in the future.

CASA’s surveys also show that it is essential for parents to agree on their drug use and alcohol use messages. When parents do not agree completely on their anti-drug message to teens, those children are 3.5 times more likely to expect to use drugs in the future. When parents don’t agree on an anti-alcohol use message, teens are twice as likely to drink as other children whose parents do agree.

Narconon Centers Sponsor Drug Education Classes in Hundreds of Schools to Help Reduce Drug Abuse

Along with running centers that provide drug rehabilitation services around the world, Narconon staff from many centers go out into the community to deliver anti-drug messages to young people. From Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma and centers in Southern California and Italy alike, staff teach children of all ages in schools and clubs the dangers of illicit or prescription drug abuse or alcohol abuse. When the anti-drug curriculum is from Narconon, schools can find that their drug problems are reduced. A peer-reviewed study, published on the website www.substanceabusepolicy.com, reported on the decrease in drug abuse among students who had received the entire Narconon curriculum.

CASA studies report that a young person who does not start abusing drugs or alcohol until he or she is 21 years old is virtually certain never to do so. The best tools to use to prevent drug or alcohol abuse are accurate lessons in the problems created by substance abuse and parental concern, communication, and attention.


Resources:

http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2011.pdf

https://www.centeronaddiction.org/addiction-research/reports/importance-of-family-dinners-2012

AUTHOR

Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.