Latest drug test for Spice continues debate over testing at home
As more and more illegal or illicit drugs become available, drug testing companies are answering with a broader range of drugs for the public to consume. The latest test on the market is for the synthetic drug known as “Spice” or “K2.” Drug users that were formerly dodging the drug screenings by using synthetic drugs will be disappointed to learn that these drugs will soon be detectable.
The “synthetic marijuana” drug test will screen for the presence or absence of five variations of Spice, including JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP47, 497, and CP47, 497 C8 homologue. Other street names for these chemicals, which are not anything like marijuana, are produced in China. They go by the names Yukatan Fire, Ninja, Dank and Solar Flare amongst others.
Drug testing is not a new concept. Schools have been testing for years; professional athletes are tested; employees are tested — drug testing has become a part of American life. Home use drug test kits are easily obtained from the local pharmacy or the Internet.
The tests are used primarily on teens by parents, but they are also utilized by adults who suspect their spouse or significant other is using illicit drugs. At this time, there are tests that screen for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, opioids, methamphetamine, amphetamines, PCP, barbiturates, methadone, tricyclic antidepressants, ecstasy and now Spice.
The tests usually contain a urine sample collection cup, test strips or a test card and an instruction booklet. The results must be read within a certain number of minutes after the test is started. Limitations of these home kits include: adherence to the instructions, how the test or sample was stored, whether the test kit has expired and what the person ate or drank before the test. In addition, over-the-counter medications or vitamin supplements may also affect the results.
This recent addition to the home drug test marketplace advances the already intense controversy regarding the practice of testing youths at home for drug use. There are cogent points to be made on both sides of the argument.
Pros of drug testing at home
- Parents who want to create a deterrent to drug use will occasionally test their teens at random times. This enables an adolescent to measure whether the fun of using drugs is outweighed by the consequences of punishment. It also gives the teen a good excuse to bow out when peers introduce a substance, explaining that their parents drug test them
- Parents who suspect their children are using drugs may want to verify it and handle the issue privately. Fearing shame or embarrassment, a parent will try often to stop the problem at home
- If drugs are detected, a home test offers the opportunity to intervene at an early stage of drug use. In the case of an adult, cooperation is voluntary, although serious consequences may result if the addict doesn’t express a willingness to cooperate
- By testing teens, a parent is providing boundaries. Through proactive intervention, the teen will see how much the parent cares about them
Cons of drug testing at home
- Typically, by the time a person suspects a loved one is using drugs, the user has already been partaking in drugs for a longer than expected period of time. By leaning on these tests, which can be outmaneuvered, to identify and monitor drug abuse, their loved one may have lost valuable time in treatment
- There are multiple ways to cheat the urine screens. The tester may have a false sense of security when they see a negative result on the test. In reality, the loved one being tested has simply found clever ways to beat the test. If the test doesn’t test for pH and creatinine levels, it can be fooled with plain water. Not to mention the websites that sell “clean urine” to substitute as the collection sample
- Tests can be costly and confusing. Many people attempting to administer the home tests find them difficult to navigate
- There can be a false positive result, caused by poppy seeds, cold medicines or antibiotics. This could lead to accusing someone of drug use when they are, in fact, innocent. There can also be false negatives as the kits do not screen for every illicit drug on the market
- The bond of trust between parent and child or spouses can be damaged by the intrinsic message of distrust conveyed by the use of these home tests. The resulting environment of suspicion and resentment can outweigh the benefits of drug testing at home
With the proliferation of dangerous new synthetic drugs, it is not surprising that testing for these substances has followed. Spice and synthetic LSD are so common, they can be found in local gas stations or the Internet packaged as incense or potpourri. Although the concept of drug testing at home remains controversial, it does allow for unique tools that can assist in preventing addiction. Open communication at home, drug education that remains current as new drugs come on the scene and clear boundaries where consequences go hand-in-hand with love and support remain important deterrents in the battle against drug abuse.
Sovereign Health Group is a residential treatment program for substance abuse and mental health disorders with facilities across the nation. For more information about treating substance abuse, please call (866) 524-5504.
Written by Eileen Spatz, Sovereign Health Group writer