I first heard of the practice of families doing random drug testing from a nonprofit organization called Not My Kid. It is a great technique to prevent drug addiction in kids and teens. Their website, NotMyKid.org, says they aim to meet the unique needs facing youth and their families by providing a full continuum of life-saving prevention, early intervention, behavioral health support, and wellness programs. Their array of programs and trainings focus on substance use, vaping, bullying, relationships, trauma, body image, mental health, and internet safety for youth, adults, and the community at-large.
I highly recommend that families with preteens, teens and young adults in the home use Not My Kid’s process of random drug testing. I will go over it here. If you don’t follow their recommendations exactly, I still recommend administering random drug tests. There are many benefits to this family rule. A big benefit is preventing drug use, and putting your next generation in a much better position to prevent drug addiction.
Here’s the protocol I learned from Not My Kid, to help prevent drug addiction:
1) Obtain an at-home drug test (sold at drug stores for less than $40).
2) Explain to the youth in your house that your family uses random drug testing. That means they might take the test at any time. You are doing this because you are responsible for them.
3) Tell them that this gives them an additional response if anyone offers them drugs or alcohol. A good reason not to use them is because their family does random drug testing, and they could be given that test at any time.
4) Put the test where it will be seen regularly, like on the bathroom medicine cabinet.
5) Randomly administer the urine test to all youth in the household. If it comes out negative for drugs, purchase a new test to put back in the visible place.
6) If it comes out positive for drugs, mail in the test ASAP for the lab to double-check (often free), and if it confirms your child had drugs in their system, follow up with professional counseling and rehab to get help for your child.
Let them know that your family doesn’t do drugs and doesn’t tolerate or enable drug use. In order to prevent drug addiction, it’s also important to be a good role model for positive, healthy behavior. Here’s a quiz to find your child’s safety quotient and start conversations about saying “no” to drugs as well as other ways for youth to improve personal safety.