If you suspect your child is using drugs and is being dishonest about it, you may be looking for ways to find out the truth. While there are several signs your child can exhibit that indicate substance abuse is a problem, you may still want concrete evidence of what they are using and how serious the problem may be.
Administering a drug test is one of the easiest ways to determine what your child is using. There are numerous types of drug tests available and each one has the ability to detect different forms of drugs and the presence of substances in the system for different periods of time after use has occurred.
The Most Common Types of Drug Tests
There are numerous types of drug tests available and it is important to understand the differences between them before proceeding. The most common drug tests administered are:
Some drug tests are more effective at detecting substances than others and may be able to identify a wider array of substances in the system. The type of drug used, the form of drug test administered, and the individual are all factors to consider when evaluating the results. While some options are more inexpensive, they may not be as effective at identifying levels of a substance in the system or may be easy to cheat. For example, urine samples and at-home drug tests may be easy to cheat, especially in situations where the collection of the specimen is not monitored.
Home drug tests are one of the first many opt to try. They serve as both a preventive measure and an investigative option. Because your child knows they will be regularly tested, they should be less likely to use drugs. If you suspect they are already using, it can help you determine if there is a need for treatment, but actions must be taken following positive results.
At-home drug tests are relatively inexpensive and can be ordered online or found in stores. These kits typically come with a collection cup and test strips to administer at home. There are options for both 5-panel and 10-panel tests.
5-panel tests can identify:
A 10-panel test can identify these as well:
Because they can only identify a limited amount of substances, they may be able to identify the type of drug your child is using. Additionally, at-home tests can make it easier for your child to cheat the test. With access to the Internet, your child can easily find ways to work around the test and pass it.
It is also important to consider the potential backlash that may develop as a result of administering an at-home drug test. Your child may feel as though it is an invasion of their privacy and possibly damage your relationship. Be prepared for your child to be resentful and possibly develop other behavioral issues as a result.
Hair drug tests are minimally invasive and can be purchased over the counter in some places. Hair drug tests can identify:
These types of drug tests are becoming more popular because they are nearly impossible to cheat. Hair testing can detect drugs for up to 90 days after use and substance use is impossible to wash out or mask. You can choose different panels of tests and these are able to detect the same substances a urine test would find.
This form of test requires a person to provide a sample that is 1.5 inches in length. If the person shaves their head, it is possible to also test body hair. If no hair is available, a urine test may be administered instead.
Blood drug tests are the most expensive and the most invasive, but they are also the most accurate. This form of testing is often used in legal situations, such as testing a person who is suspected of driving under the influence. Blood drug tests must be administered in a medical setting. While they are the most accurate, they also have the shortest detection period, meaning that the test must be conducted relatively close to the time use occurs.
Blood testing can identify:
This form of testing is virtually impossible to cheat, but they can be passed if a person engages in behaviors to try and flush the drug out of their system.
What Drugs are Undetectable in a Drug Test?
Some drug tests are unable to detect specific drugs making it important to try and find evidence of what substance you think your child is using. This can help you choose what form of drug test to use. For example, at-home drug tests are unable to detect hallucinogens or psychedelic drugs such as LSD or mushrooms.
Additionally, some drugs are unable to be detected because they are constantly changing. Synthetic drugs, also known as designer drugs, are substances manufactured in labs. Substances such as bath salts are constantly being changed to make them undetectable and avoid laws regarding legality.
How Far Back Can a Drug Test Detect Drugs?
Timing is key if you suspect your child is using drugs. Depending on the substance abused, some can pass through the system more quickly than others. It is important to administer a test as soon as possible to identify what your child is using. Below are detection periods for some of the most commonly abused drugs:
|Drug||How Soon After Use Does it|
Show on a Drug Test?
|How Long After Using Will it |
Continue to Show on a Drug Test?
How Accurate are Drug Tests?
Drug tests help you identify if substance abuse is occurring, but some are more effective than others. For example, at-home tests are often used because they are the least expensive and easy to administer, but they are not as advanced as lab testing. While they can identify drugs are in the system, they cannot tell you the amount. In this case, it is recommended that a positive at-home test be sent to a lab for further analysis.
Hair drug tests have become more popular recently because they of their accuracy, however, they can be expensive and can take a long period of time to process. Blood tests are the most accurate form of testing available, however, they are not often conducted because they require a person to be in a medical setting, can be quite costly, and are more invasive than other options. Unlike other tests, blood tests can tell you how much of a substance is in a person’s system at the time of the test.
Common Ways to Beat a Drug Test
There are numerous ways a person may try to beat a drug test. It is important to not give your child advanced notice of the test in order to minimize the likelihood of this occurring. If your child is aware of an upcoming drug test, they may research the window of time drugs are able to be detected to ensure the test does not return positive.
Some of the most common ways your child may attempt to cheat a drug test include:
- Getting urine from a friend: A drug-free friend may provide urine to your child so they can pass a test.
- Using synthetic urine: Synthetic urine can be purchased online in both powdered and liquid form. These can, however, be detected on a drug test.
- Drinking lots of water: Your child may attempt to flush substances from their system by drinking a lot of water. This can also dilute a urine sample.
- Exercising and dieting: Depending on the drug they use some substances can be flushed from the system using exercise and dieting.
Your child may also attempt to tamper with a test if unmonitored when administered. They may also use detox kits to try and flush their system and minimize the presence of substances in their system.
What to do if Your Child Tests Positive on a Drug Test?
Regardless of the method you choose, taking action following a positive drug test is important. If you use an at-home kit, be sure to send the sample to a lab for further testing. Administering a drug test without follow-up does not benefit your child and may put them on high alert to be more careful with their use to avoid detection in the future.
Give Sober College a call at 800.465.0142 or send us a message for more information about next steps to take following a positive drug test. We can connect you with specialists who can assess your child’s needs and make recommendations for treatment options.