Tens of thousands of parents have bought into the multimillion-dollar industry of home drug testing, the Denver Post reports. Parents do it despite warnings from most major drug-abuse and treatment professionals, the medical establishment, parenting experts and even the White House. All call home-testing teens a bad idea. “I guess home testing is better than no testing,” said a skeptical Bertha Madras, the White House’s deputy drug czar. The Bush administration backs random school drug testing, arguing schools are better equipped to help with counseling and referrals if a problem is found. “By the time a parent tests, it’s already far down the road,” Madras said. “If they get a positive result, then what? Parents may or may not have the skill to proceed.”
In March, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement opposing both home drug testing and involuntary drug testing in schools. The medical group prefers worried parents have their children tested by qualified doctors or treatment specialists because of the possibility of error or tampering. “It’s deceptively simple, but the truth is, it’s actually a very complicated issue,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, who specializes in childhood addiction at Children’s Hospital Boston. Levy worries not only about inaccuracy but also about eroding trust during a time when many teens are already pulling away. Most tests use a litmus strip to detect traces of drugs or byproducts in urine. Others check hair samples or saliva. As many as 12 illicit and prescription drugs can be detected. Last year, sales by industry leader Phamatech Inc. topped $27 million, said Carl Mongiovi, vice president of the San Diego company. He said sales included more than 431,000 marijuana tests.