Drug Testing Your Teenager

Drug Testing Your Teenager

Parents are allowed to drug test a teenager. Testing a teenager can help keep the home environment safe for everyone and intervention can save emotional and physical distress down the road. If a teen is living at home, parents have a right to test for drugs. Learn more on how to prepare for testing a teenager for drug use, setting a calendar and ways to avoid cheating on drug tests.


Why Test

Any drug test conducted on a teenager should have probable cause or a good reason to do so. A drug-free home is very important for all parties involved which is why testing makes perfect sense for concerned parents and caretakers. If a teen does not have a known drug problem and it is merely suspected, it may be more complicated to get the test done. Some things to consider include:

  • Pursue testing with trust-building and self-esteem in mind, which are important to teens.
  • Familial relationships may start to deteriorate if the teen feels violated
  • Communication is key.. Let the child known what is happening and why to be up front a
  • Do not force a child physically to provide a sample for testing



Once a parent or caretaker decides to test a teen for drug use, two options exist. The first option is to do it outside the home, the other is to do it at home. Here are some things to consider when pursuing the two options.


Drug collection  or lab testing

Some of the pros of testing in a lab include:

  • Handled by professionals
  • Teen may take it more seriously if outsourced
  • Centers have more sensitive tests to detect drugs in lower quantities and thresholds


Some of the cons of outsourced testing include:

  • Higher cost than at-home kits
  • Collected info may be used by courts in the future
  • Appointment is needed with teen willing and available to attend


At home tests

Some of the pros include:

  • Less expensive
  • Easy to use with instant results
  • Urine-based tests can detect trace amounts of drugs up to a week or two post use
  • Hair analysis is the most reliable and comprehensive


Some of the cons of at home tests may include:

  • More invasive
  • Cheating is a possibility (swapping with another teen, drink water to give false reading)
  • Saliva tests are hard to get from a teen
  • Hair analysis does not produce instant results


Designing a Regimen

The following tips can help a parent set up a drug testing regimen in the home which is easy and cheat-proof:

  • Set clear rules. Make sure hands are washed and clean before test. Communicate expectations
  • Start with saliva test which is quick, easy, convenient and less invasive
  • Test at random to avoid cheating
  • Do hair testing if the teen may have cheated every 2-3 months
  • Consistency is key. Don’t stop because results are negative. The pressure of random testing at home may be just what is needed to help child stay on the straight and narrow


Teen drug and substance use is a huge challenge for parents. Contact us if you think your teen is using drugs or alcohol. We have resources and information to assist and support your family with getting the necessary help and treatment for your teen.