Local agency offers free drug testing kits for teens

Keeping kids off drugs is a challenge facing a lot of parents. Deputies in Graves County seized 40 pounds of pot last month, and Sheriff Dewayne Redmon said they’ve pulled more than 80 pounds off the streets in just the last month.

The sheriff said many of the dealers are targeting teens. A local drug prevention agency is offering a free tool to help parents find out if their teen is using.

A $20 test offers results for ten types of illegal drugs, but Andrea Hoskins with The Graves County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy and Prevention said it also can offer parents peace of mind. “Parents can have that open communication with their child about drug use that they may not have had before, especially if they suspect it.”

The agency is giving the tests away free of charge. Any parent in Mayfield or Graves County can pick one up at the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Redmon said, “They don’t have to tell us who they are, they don’t have to tell us who their kids are, and its something they can do in the privacy of their own home.”

Sheriff Redmon said the partnership should help curb what he called an “alarming” trend of marijuana use in teens and pre-teens. “I’m a very strong supporter of it. Prevention is the best medicine,” he said.

The free drug test kits are also available at the health department in Graves County. They have already bought 175 thanks to a Drug Free Communities grant.  

The key to figuring out if your child is using is to know your child. Watch for changes in their appetite or sleep patterns and strange behavior.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns drug testing your child at home can cause mistrust. The kits can also produce false negatives or false positives, and some are easy to cheat. There isn’t a lot of evidence proving at home drug tests actually prevent kids from using, but Sheriff Redmon said he stands behind them as long as parents talk to their kids during the process. “Say we’re not doing this as a punishment, but if you’re using drugs that you’re not supposed to be taking, we are going to get you some help before it goes too far,” he said.

The kits come with an anonymous survey and additional information and directions for the drug test so that parents can make sure they use it and interpret the results the right way. There’s also contact information for  community resources. Parents should have a treatment plan for their child if the test comes back positive.

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