How Accurate Are Home Drug Tests?

If you’re considering giving your son or daughter a home drug test purchased over-the-counter, you may be wondering how accurate and effective these tests really are.  You may be worried that an inaccurate result could do more harm than good if it turns out that your child isn’t actually using drugs or alcohol.

At-home drug tests can help indicate whether one or more prescription or illegal drugs are present in your child’s urine—drugs like marijuana, opiates (such as those found in prescription drugs and in heroin), ecstasy, cocaine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and others.

While at-home tests can be effective tools for identifying drugs in the system, the results can be thrown off by food supplements, certain foods and beverages and medicines.  Additionally, the way a test is administered, the way the urine is stored and what your child ate or drank before the test can all affect the results and create what is called a “false positive.”

It’s important, therefore, to follow through with the second step of standard at-home drug tests, which is to send the urine to the lab when a positive result is found.  Make sure that if there is a particular drug you are concerned about you check the label of the test to ensure it is designed to identify that drug.

Getting a negative result doesn’t necessarily mean that your child isn’t using drugs or alcohol, since it takes time for many drugs to appear in the system. This delay can produce a negative result even when drugs are present the body.  Given this, it’s important to test your child periodically for drugs if you suspect he or she may be using.  For a chart showing how soon different drugs will produce a positive result, click here.

If your child is abusing drugs and/or alcohol, the caring, professional staff at Northbound Treatment Services can help.  We specialize in treating people of all ages and have academic programs to help young people in high school and college continue their education while in treatment.  For more information about our rehab treatment facilities, click here.

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