April 30th, 2014
I’ve feared drugs ever since I was a kid and watched Eve Plumb in “Dawn, Portrait of a Teenage Runaway” on ABC’s after-school special series. “Dawn” even made me dread entering high school for the first time, because I envisioned all teenagers as glassy-eyed wastoids lounging against lockers with hypodermic needles dangling from the inside of their arms.
I gave my parents a run for their money with that fear, and spent most of the summer of ’82 threatening to not attend high school or vowing they’d lose me forever to “the drug.”
I was a high-anxiety child.
I never did turn “to the drug” or even experiment beyond your run-of-the-mill because I literally thought I would die if I took narcotics, hallucinogenics, or Tylenol.
Thank you, “Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway,” which by the way, should be required watching for every pre-teen.
Now, as a high-anxiety child turned high-anxiety adult, drugs still scare me. More because I’m hyper aware that kids are susceptible to its siren song, and that peer pressure is often a stronger drug than the drug itself (one startling study conducted by Columbia University showed that by the time they’re 17, 70% of kids say they’ve been offered illegal drugs).
I’ve gone through the scenarios in my head. Decided how I will protect my girls, surveil them everywhere, and answer their questions about illegal substances (THEY WILL KILL YOU DEAD AND YOU’LL NEVER COME BACK! works nicely). I’ve researched the apps that will tell me where my kids are at all times, rehearsed speeches about “choosing the right path” and ordered the “Dawn” DVD for when the time comes.
I want to leave nothing to chance.
That’s why I recently attended an event to introduce the drug testing kit, Touch&Know, which will be very quickly added to my “teen preparation pack” always in progress. My oldest daughter is 10 now, and that prep kit will be stocked to the brim come the tween years.
Touch&Know especially caught my eye because it’s used by law enforcement agencies, it tests for 22 kinds of drugs, including marijuana and Ecstasy, and it is used on the substance, not the person. So say, you found a smear of something on a bathroom counter or a nightstand, you could test it without having to confront your teen or ask them to breathe into a tube or pee into a cup. Touch&Know also tests liquids, so if you’re paranoid like me, and want to know if someone “roofied” your drink, you’ll find out quickly.
Even so, the thought that kept at me as I attended the event, and watched the videos, which I’ll link below, is what if you DID find drugs in your kid’s room? What then? It will obviously be revealed that you were “snooping” and that you didn’t trust him or her (for good reason perhaps), but how do you explain that breach of privacy anyway? Also, what now? Do you enter your kid into rehab? Threaten military school? I’m very interested in the what comes after.
I recently read an article about drug testing that helped me think through this area. The question posed to an expert was, “Doesn’t drug testing tell my teen I don’t trust him?” and the answer made a lot of sense to me. In a nutshell, the doctor responded that if you are suspecting drug use, you don’t trust your teen – in this one area. And it’s OK not to trust because drug use can get out of control quickly, with life-threatening results. If you’ve noticed a change in your teen’s behavior especially, drug testing is a safety measure, and you can explain that to him or her.
But still, then what if you find drugs? Again, the experts say to:
- Be direct and calm
- Ask open-ended, non-judgmental questions
- Don’t get angry with what your child tells you, or the next time they won’t share with you what’s going on in his or her life.
- Show support.
- Give advice for how to make a better choice in the future.
- Get your teen treatment.
The latter might depend on if the results came back positive for the first time or the fifth, but if your teen can’t stay clean, more consequences might be necessary such as a change of school or rehab.
While researching this topic as part of my “let’s-make-me-even-more-worried-about-the-teen-years” campaign, one approach I especially liked is to create a family drug and alcohol policy early on (for me, that would be now). As most of us probably do, start talking to your children at a young age about drugs and alcohol and explain that you’ll be developing a contract for them later on that will cover your expectations as they enter the teen years, list what specific consequences will be implemented if the policy is not followed, and details the potential for drug testing. Many studies point to positive role the possibility of drug testing can play in helping your teen avoid drugs because it gives them an out when offered something horrible, and allows them to say, “I can’t. My parents drug test.”
So, I don’t know. I’m collecting all of this information now, listening to parents of teens who’ve gone before me, and investigating all of my options, like Touch&Know.
If you are reading this and have tested your teen for drugs, I’d really like to hear what happened next.
Meanwhile, as for Touch&Know, this video was the one that got me thinking about how I’d handle this situation:
and most importantly, Touch&Know is for sale at Walgreen’s and doesn’t require you to send any samples back to a lab; you simply test and know.
It’s much better in my opinion to be proactive in this area, and drug testing probably works a whole lot better than repeated viewings of “Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway.”
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Touch&Know. All opinions, and references to cheesy ’70s movies are my own.