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Jun 4, 2005 |

Every parent worries about their child’s safety. The worry only increases as a child reaches adolescence and is exposed to peer pressure to experiment with alcohol and drugs. On the other hand, most parents would agree that it is important for there to be a level of trust between themselves and their child. All of these issues have now converged with the availability of home drug and alcohol tests.

Sales of home drug-testing kits have reached over $20 million a year and the demand for home breathalyzers (costing up to $139) has been doubling every year since 2000. Tests are available for marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and several other drugs. A new generation of tests are user-friendly and analyze hair rather than urine samples. In addition, there are also devices which can monitor a child’s cell phone calls, computer strokes, and driving habits.

Clearly, the mere fact that these tests and devices are available does not automatically mean that they should be used regularly or at all. Individual parents must make the decision based upon their own values and beliefs. Parents thinking of using these tests might want to consider discussing the matter with their child first. They might also want to consider having a doctor do the test if it makes them more comfortable. Inaccurate results and false positives can do a great deal of harm if a child is unfairly accused of drug or alcohol use. Experts agree that this is a tricky issue and must be carefully thought over since it can affect the relationship between a child and his or her parents.

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