Sale of Drug-test Kits on the Rise

More parents are purchasing drug-testing kits to use on their children, the Wall Street Journal reported June 2.  U.S. sales of home drug-test kits have more than doubled since 2003, with annual sales now around $20 million. Retailers like Wal-Mart sell the kits, and companies like Pharmatech have brought to market testing products with a price tag within reach of most parents — $14.95 to $29.95. For parents who are squeamish about asking their kids for a urine sample, Psychemedics sells a home hair-testing kit.

Some parents augment drug testing with other means of keeping tabs on their kids, such as reading their e-mail or checking their cellphone logs. “The technology for monitoring family members is robust and it’s getting stronger all the time,” said Robert McCrie, a professor of security management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Parents who use the drug tests say that their concerns for the safety of their children regarding issues like drug use or drunk driving sometimes outweigh the issue of trust between parent and child. Many see the tests as a deterrent, and some kids say the tests give them a good excuse to say ‘no’ to their drug-using friends.

But addiction experts worry that the home tests can be less than accurate, although some products offer mail-in confirmation at certified labs. Parents can also ask a pediatrician to conduct the test, although many doctors may be reluctant to do so, said Harris B. Stratyner, clinical director of addiction at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.


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