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Drug testing as prevention, at the family level
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Working in the field of drug addiction, I have come in contact with many people and families struggling and dealing with a loved one, a friend or family member who have become addicted or that drugs are bringing significate negative consequences in their lives. I am asked quite a lot, how do you prevent this from happening?

I have worked with privileged families with all the money and resources anyone could ask for and I have worked with some who have had none. Drug addiction does not care which side of the tracks you come from.  “How can I prevent my child from using drugs?” I do not have an absolute answer. Yes, being there for them can help. Providing  a safe home and place to come with growing up issues would help. Setting an example of a drug-free life style will help . But I believe the best way is drug testing as prevention is the future of drug deterrence; testing your child as a regular part of growing up.

There is some question when to start. The average age of onset drug use is 12 years old. The 6th grade is a good place to start drug testing.  A simple urine test could not only prevent a lifetime of addiction but also stop it before it happens. Some people have asked ‘’where is the trust with our kids?” or “doesn’t testing create mistrust?” No. Do you trust your children to get good or passing grades in school? Yes. Then why do they give you report cards to check? Just like good grades, drug testing is an indicator of how your child is doing socially, emotionally and physically. It is not a matter of trust, it is accountability and doing what is best for your child even if they don’t like it.

Just like bad grades, children’s ability to see how that can affect them in the future hinders their judgment. The immediate pleasure of playing video games instead of homework is all that’s on their mind. Drug use can look the same: the rewards can be immediate, but they cannot see how it could be harmful to their future.  So let's start testing our kids monthly prior to them participating in significate events or receiving privileges. As an example, before signing them up for their favorite sport or activity, before getting that license. Trust me, it is a lot easier then dealing with the consequences of a young intoxicated driver. Let’s be proactive, we can put a dent in the tragedies that happen every day due to accidents involving teens and intoxication, leaving families broken and asking why. 

Let’s start this now before we lose another young person to this senseless affliction. If you are interested in preventative drug testing, have questions or comments, let me hear from you. Email me at

— Mike Hibdon, CADC II ICADC, is a board certified alcohol and drug counselor and executive director of Prodigal Son and Daughters in Turlock