Starting the 19th of this month, Rural Metro ambulance services along with the Rochester Police Department will begin distributing First Check at-home drug tests. They will have five hundred of the units to pass out at any of the Rural Metro offices, all Rochester City School District high schools with Resource Officers, Rochester Neighborhood Service Centers and RPD headquarters.
The First Check drug test allows users to test a urine sample for the presence of 12 different chemicals, including both 5 prescription and 7 illicit drugs. The list of drugs the test claims to test for is available right on their home page. The test does not state that a chemical is definitely in the system of the tested individual, but rather, declares a result to be a “preliminary positive result,” meaning that the kit must then be sent into the First Check labs for additional testing to confirm the results.
We can certainly applaud the efforts of local businesses and law enforcement to try to curb teen drug use. But the fact is that the American Association of Pediatrics has made the case many times, very strongly, that they do not support the use of home drug test on kids – with or without their knowledge:
The American Academy of Pediatrics has strong reservations about testing adolescents at school or at home and believes that more research is needed on both safety and efficacy before school-based testing programs are implemented. The American Academy of Pediatrics also believes that more adolescent-specific substance abuse treatment resources are needed to ensure that testing leads to early rehabilitation rather than to punitive measures only.
Among the objections the AAP has concerning at-home drug testing are the lack of proper training, the potential contamination of samples and false-positive results, the many variables associated with a medical test and the potentially-abusive environment that might be caused when parents use the tests as a weapon.
I spoke with LaShay Harris of Rural Metro, who points out that the packet Rural Metro and the RPD plan to distribute includes literature that includes conversation-starters, FAQs and the list of drugs the test will check for. The tests, she says, are to start a conversation about drug use, not end it.
People interested in learning more about the program can check Rural Metro’s media page here.