Should I Get My Teen Tested for Drugs?

Before running to the pharmacy for an at-home drug test, there are some considerations to be made about whether your teen should be tested for drugs.

Are there signs?

An individual using drugs will start to exhibit certain unusual behaviors and habits. Some signs to look out for include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Change in friend group
  • Poor grades/missing classes
  • Trouble with the law
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • Change in mood
  • Sudden request for money
  • Neglected appearance


A drug test should be taken with the teen’s consent. This means that you should not attempt to trick your teen into taking one or secretly collect a sample, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, if you have found evidence that your teen is doing drugs, enforcing punishments (taking away their car keys, access to certain things etc.) may be necessary in exchange for their consent to a drug test.




Image Piotr Marcinski

An at-home urine drug test may not detect traces of illicit drugs—many drugs (except marijuana) leave a person’s system within 12 hours after digestion. In addition, teens are most likely to use alcohol which will not get picked up on a drug test.

The test may also show false positives, so it is best to consult a doctor to take additional tests if repeated attempts of the at-home test are inconsistent. At-home kits can also test for residue, such as fibers left on a backpack or piece of clothing.

Consult a doctor.

If concern remains that your teen is on drugs, consult your family doctor or addictions specialist. Blood tests give the best results and those can only be administered by a healthcare professional. Doctors can also conduct breath, saliva and hair tests to test for drugs, however they are less reliable than the recommended blood test.