Pubdate: Wed, 03 Oct 2001
Source: Indianapolis Star (IN)
Section: Boone County
Copyright: 2001 Indianapolis Newspapers Inc.
Author: Diane Frederick


Witham Health Services Program Aims To Help Families Address Drug And 
Alcohol Abuse.

Lebanon -- -- County parents concerned about substance abuse can now have 
their minor children tested for drug and alcohol use for free.

The drug screens are being offered by Witham Health Services in concert 
with an effort by Boone Circuit Judge Steve David to fight drug and alcohol 

David, who sits as juvenile court judge in the county, proposed the idea to 
Witham, said Amy Hammerle, the hospital's manager of marketing and public 

She said Witham is underwriting the cost of the kits and laboratory analysis.

"Our goal is to empower parents by giving them the tools they need in 
recognizing drug and alcohol abuse," said David. "If parents have access to 
this type of information, they can immediately intervene to get help for 
their child."

The program includes free drug screening kits for use at home. The kits 
normally would cost $15.

Lebanon High School Principal Steve Psikula said the effort should make a 

"Our schools are very interested in the well-being of our students and are 
pleased to know that drug screening kits and information are available to 

Indiana schools were forced to stop random drug testing after the Indiana 
Court of Appeals ruled in August 2000 that such tests were unconstitutional.

Ken Falk, an attorney for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union who is involved 
in challenges to random drug testing in schools, said free tests do not 
pose a constitutional issue.

"The constitutional issue is where a hospital turns this information over 
to police," Falk said.

Jeff Retz, manager of Witham Toxicology Laboratory, which is providing the 
kits and free screening, said results would be confidential and sent only 
to parents or legal guardians.

Falk said, "What if the police find out this test occurred and student 'X' 
got in an auto accident and the police say, 'We would like to know if this 
student had marijuana in his system at the time of the accident.' "

Falk referred to a case in northern Indiana involving a firefighter who was 
in a crash.

The firefighter was subject to random drug testing on the job, and the 
prosecutor sought results of the drug test, Falk said.

"The court of appeals said, 'No,' but the Supreme Court said, 'Yes,' " Falk 

"As a parent, I have a right to go into my son's room and say I want a 
urine specimen," Falk said. "I just think there are potential ramifications 
that parents might not think about at the time of the test."

The kits are available from the Witham laboratory and come with a list of 
treatment programs and counseling services.

A parent or legal guardian may submit a urine sample from a donor younger 
than 21 who lives in Boone County.

Results would be available in 24 to 48 hours during regular weekday 
business hours, Retz said.

"If we help even one family, the program is a success," said Richard 
Ingham, Witham president and chief executive officer.
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