Pubdate: Tue, 09 Dec 2008
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Michele Mandel
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Some of your pain pills have gone missing from the medicine cabinet
and you're becoming suspicious. Or your teen is hanging out with a new
group of friends, his grades are going south and he's behaving strangely.

Is he taking drugs?

You've rifled through his drawers, searched his eyes and even asked
directly, but despite the denials and lack of real evidence, you still
sense something is wrong.

So, you worry and the statistics are hardly reassuring. The 2007
Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey shows that 26 per cent of
students reported using cannabis at least once in the past year.

Among all drugs asked about, OxyContin was the only one to show a
significant, but small, increase in non-medical use since the last
survey two years before.

Is your child one of the users? What are you supposed to

According to a California company, whip out your scissors and send in
your kid's hair for drug testing.

Oh, those poor teens. GPS can keep track of their movements, new
Ontario laws will hamstring their driving, spyware monitors their
computer chats and now My Mom, the Narc can run drug tests in their

Based in San Diego, Confirm Biosciences says it's putting the control
back in parents' hands with their new HairConfirm Prescription
product. Retailing for $89.99 US and available on-line in Canada, the
athome package allows parents to cut a hair sample and ship it -cost
not included outside the U. S. to their lab for testing.

With a confidential access code, the anonymous results can then be
obtained on-line within 48 hours, telling worried parents if their
child has used any of 12 different types of illegal and prescription
drugs within the last 90 days. It also includes a table to indicate if
the level of drug in their child's system is that of a recreational
user or an addicted one.

"We get a lot of requests from Canadians," said Zeynep Ilgaz, CEO of
Confirm BioScience. "Prescription abuse is really high with OxyContin
and Vicodin. They are so accessible in medicine cabinets."

Rather than secretly snipping in the night, Ilgaz advises parents to
ask their children for a hair sample of about 80 hairs. "We definitely
recommend a hair cut from the head and not from behind a child's
back," she says. "Nothing can replace communication."

"Zoe" would have loved to have had the testing kit when she was going
through her crisis with her drug-abusing teenager. "Children lie to
your face at the time and you think that they don't because you love
them, but they do," explains the Richmond Hill mom." Every parent is a
sucker in that respect. I think it is a helpful tool."

It's difficult to imagine many teens happily submitting their locks
for examination. For those who can't get their kids to donate
voluntarily, hair from a brush -or midnight haircut -will do.

But what about the destruction of trust between parent and child, not
to mention the violation of their privacy?

In the United States, where the war on drugs was a George Bush
religion, Internet companies and drug-testing labs report huge
upswings in teen testing and sales of home drug-screening kits. Some
schools have even taken to dipping their students' urine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Civil Liberties
Union have come out against athome and school-based drug testing.

Ilgaz recognizes the controversy, but argues that home screening may
help kids withstand peer pressure - giving them an "out" so they can
tell their friends they can't partake because they might get tested.
While for desperate parents, she says, it offers answers they may not
be able to get otherwise.

"We have seen a lot of cases where the results were really high and
the kid was sent to rehab. It has helped a lot of people in a positive

Even if your kid never wants to talk to you again.

Zoe says it's worth the risk. "You can arrest it on the spot and veer
it in another direction," the mom says. "And as a drug counsellor once
told me, when someone is in trouble, they're going to resent the hell
out of you anyway. But one day, they're going to thank you."
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin