Mom-and-pop drug testing

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Mom-and-pop drug testing

Postby budman » Wed Apr 12, 2006 8:59 am

The Seattle Times wrote:Wednesday, April 12, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

Mom-and-pop drug testing
By Raquel Rutledge

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE — Desperate parents dissatisfied with old-school ways of trying to tell whether their kids are doing drugs — rifling through their drawers, smelling their breath, searching their eyes — are now instead demanding proof.

They're dragging their teens to drug-testing labs and buying home testing kits by the case over the Internet.

"I tell my daughter, 'If you want to go out tonight, you're going to pee in a cup first,' " said Suzanne Fugarino, whose 17-year-old daughter was expelled from high school last fall after bringing a crack pipe to school.

In some areas, schools, too, are getting on board, hanging banners and sending home brochures backing, a Web-based company that promotes home drug tests for children.

Although random drug testing in schools — heavily promoted by the White House — has drawn some fire from the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others, parental testing of teens has gotten far less attention.

And the practice is quietly exploding.

Internet companies and drug-testing labs report huge upswings in teen testing and sales of home drug-screening kits.

"[Business] has been awesome," said Debra Auer, co-owner of Express Drug Screening in Milwaukee.

Sales of home testing kits and visits to the lab by teen-toting parents have tripled in the last four years, Auer said. says its sales have quadrupled in the past five years, and another testing lab, Noble Diagnostics, says sales of home kits have jumped 30 percent in the past nine months or so.

Deterrent — and excuse

"From a parent's perspective, it's the most empowering thing in the world," said Kim Hildreth, a Dallas mother who tests her children and sells home testing kits online at

"You're lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling, worried to death all the time," Hildreth said. "You catch them in little fibs. You don't know if they're where they say they are. You worry. There's no reason for that."

Hildreth and other proponents call drug testing a powerful deterrent and say it gives teens a socially acceptable reason to reject drug use.

She estimates that she sells dozens of the tests kits to Washington state residents each month, many going to Puyallup.

"We taught them to 'Just Say No,' but we never told them what to say next," said Mason Duchatschek, owner of

Teens who are tested can tell their friends that their parents test them and that they will lose cellphone, car or other privileges, and their peers understand that, Duchatschek said.

Duchatschek is working with schools across the country to get them to endorse his program of parental testing instead of adopting controversial random testing programs as many other schools have done.

One test that failed

Home drug tests typically cost $6 to $15 for one test that can detect between five and 10 different drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates and benzodiazepines. Parents dip the test into a cup of urine, and results appear within minutes.

Matt Muir, a 17-year-old high-school senior from Michigan, objects to his mother's recent purchase of home drug tests. Muir says his occasional marijuana use causes no problems in his life and that his mother shouldn't worry. His grades are fine, he said. He's already been accepted into three good universities, and he'll soon be living on his own. He doesn't smoke every day and never before school, and he's not turning to "harder" drugs, he said.

"I think her fears are overdrawn and exaggerated," he said.

When his mother tried to force him to urinate in a cup while she stood in the bathroom facing the wall, he decided he would rather admit to his drug use than go through the embarrassment.

"I've given a lot of thought to what she's supposed to do," Muir said. "It's really tough. I guess look the other way, but not approve of it. It strikes me that parents that are OK with it are not good people."

Break or build trust?

Some groups say home drug testing can harm relationships with children.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit agency that promotes an overhaul of the nation's approach to drug problems, says parental testing tears at the bond between children and adults.

"It can have consequences of breaking down communication, of creating rebellion, breaking down relationships of trust," said Jennifer Kern, a research associate with the office of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Drug testing of teens should be done by medical professionals who can better interpret test results and refer parents to appropriate resources if necessary, Kern said.

Rachael Fugarino, the teen busted for bringing a crack pipe to school, said she was angry when her mom started screening her for drugs but that eventually it was helpful.

"At first I tried to get other people's pee to try to pass the test," she said. "Then I realized if I opened up and communicated, it helped. It helped to have her know what I was doing."

Fugarino said drugs, especially crack cocaine, nearly destroyed her. She said she tried any and every drug and would do anything to get money for drugs. She stole and forged checks, sold her mom's jewelry and borrowed money from anybody who would give it to her.

She's been clean for about six months and is working toward her GED.

The home drug tests now serve as a way for Fugarino to prove she's clean and earn back her mom's trust, she said.

And when her mom and stepfather apologize — as they often do — for the things they've done and still do to prevent her drug use, "I tell them, 'You don't need to apologize. I know you're just doing it to help me,' " Fugarino said. "And I'm glad that they did."

For Suzanne Fugarino, the tests offer an end to secretly digging in her daughter's purse when her daughter is in the shower as she used to do. An end to the accusations and guesswork and, she desperately hopes, an end to all the lies.

"They will tell you anything. 'I'm sorry. I will never do this again,' " she said of teens on drugs. "They know what you want to hear, and you want to believe them. But the moment they're free and out, they're right back at it.

"At least now she can't lie to me no longer."

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Postby palmspringsbum » Sat May 27, 2006 9:44 am

The Advertiser wrote:Home drug kit uproar

The Advertiser
Tony Vermeer

PARENTS will be able to drug-test their children at home with a new do-it-yourself kit to be sold at pharmacies next month.

The saliva test can detect the presence of marijuana, amphetamines, heroin and cocaine and returns results in seven minutes.

Its manufacturer says the kit is an important tool for parents who are trying to steer teenagers away from drugs.

But the prospect of home drug testing has divided family organisations and alarmed civil libertarians, who claim it breaches privacy laws.

Although other testing systems exist, most require urine samples, do not provide quick results or are not easily accessed by the public.

The Perth-based Harrington group has signed a deal to distribute its Oraline saliva test kits through 2000 pharmacies nationwide. They will cost $25.

Managing director Peter Boonen said the device used technology developed in the US by a subsidiary company that could detect extremely low levels of marijuana in the body.

Individual drugs show up as one of four lines on the test strip. The product pinpoints drug use within the previous 24 to 48 hours, he said.

Mr Boonen, who has children aged 13, 15 and 16, said he was prepared to practice what he preached.

"We have them in the fruit bowl at home, but we haven't had to use them yet because we trust our kids," he said.

"I just believe that drugs are such a problem in society that you have to do everything you can to prevent it. It should be a case-by-case basis but at least if you are giving parents the tools, they have the option and it's leverage for kids to resist peer pressure."

Home drug testing has grown rapidly in the US, with more than 200 websites selling various kits for parents. Increasing numbers of schools are introducing student testing, urged on by the White House.

Mr Boonen said he had been approached by Australian schools interested in using the product, particularly in situations where liability was an issue such as an accident at school. He said the main market for the product would be employers who wanted to drug-test at their workplace.

Anti-drugs campaigner and recently elected No Pokies MLC Ann Bressington said she felt drug testing of teenagers would be more effective if done by schools and she called for regular random testing of students.

"If we are really going to get a handle on this drug issue it needs to be a whole of community approach," she said.

"Having them available at pharmacies is really not addressing the big problem. Most schools like to say they don't have a drug problem, but there are quite a few that do." Australian Medical Association national president Dr Mukesh Haikerwal said he could understand the temptation for parents, but it could lead to a breakdown in trust.

"I can see why people would like to use them," he said at an AMA conference in Adelaide yesterday.

"I think it's a question more about good relationships between parents and young people rather than having to resort to testing."

He said parents should be prepared to find ways to help their child if they did find they had an addiction.

SA Council for Civil Liberties chair George Mancini branded the tests invasive and potentially illegal.

"A child at whatever age has rights to their own privacy," he said.

"Parents aren't charged to be police or detectives or security officers to that extent. What's wrong with the age-old answer of asking them?"

"If a child says no, do you say: 'Right, I'll take it from you' or wait for them to drool on to a pillow? A testing device isn't the answer, it's how you help the child."

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Postby rsteeb » Sat May 27, 2006 4:55 pm

University of Michigan study shows some actual results and consequences of student drug testing:

A big risk with drug testing is the target's switching from the non-toxic herb to a deadly alternative with shorter detectability time to avoid getting caught.

That said, kids should NOT be getting high, period. Drug testing by parents is far more appropriate than by the schools. In fact, parental drug testing is about the only kind that could withstand the fourth ammendment, IMHO...
"When TYRANNY is abroad, SUBMISSION is the crime."
--Rev. Andrew Eliot 29 May, 1765
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Postby palmspringsbum » Mon May 29, 2006 10:46 am

I've just scanned it...looking for something specific, and found it.

page 12 wrote:...The largest absolute differences are observed for the small number of high schools that had random testing in which all students were eligible to be tested. Marijuana prevalence was 4.7 percentage points lower in the schools with such random testing; but the use of other illicit drugs was 3.3 percentage points higher. This is before any controls are introduced...

Anyone with a lick of sense would deduce this would be the effect, since cannabis is detectible about 28 days while meth burns out of your system in 3 or less...and it's the same for growing. Claiming marijuana is a GATEWAY drug and using that as an excuse to go after marijuana producers (it takes at least 2 months to mature a plant to harvest, and generally 4-6) to the exclusion of meth cookers (who can set up a lab, produce a batch, and take down a lab in a matter of hours) has exacerbated the real drug problem.

page 13 wrote:The predicted prevalence of marijuana use among students in schools with drug testing is just 7% lower than the predicted prevalence for students without testing, after controlling for a large number of salient factors in Model 3 (31.7% vs. 34.2%). Controlling for just the student characteristics results in only a 5% difference. While the sample of seven schools and 500 students in them sets limits on the power to show significace, the estimated size of the effects are limited regardless of their significance. Further, as we shall see later, the difference moves in the opposite direction for use of the other illicit drugs.

So rather than significantly reducing drug use, testing just switches a small percentage from marijuana to other, truly damaging drugs.

page 14 wrote:Similar to the results for marijuana use, drug testing of any kind and drug test for cause and suspicion were not significant predictors for the use of other illicit drugs amongh 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, or high school students. This was true without any controls and with the full set of controls.

page 15 wrote:Clearly, the sample size puts limitations on the power of the analyses - in other words, it is more difficult to show a given difference in outcome to be statistically significant than if the sample of schools were larger. But the absolute nature of the differences that we observed could not argue in favor of the efficacy of random drug testing students in schools. Even if we took the observed values to be true, they would suggest only a 5% to 7% reduction in the prevalence of marijuana use associated with testing and, disturbingly, a larger proportional increase in the use of other durgs, after controlling for the kinds of students and schools involved. One could generate hypotheses to explain such a phenomenon, such as that testing leads students to reduce their use of drugs that can be detected (like marijuana) and to displace their use onto drugs that they think less likely to be detected. While this is not an unreasonable hypothesis, we do not believe that enough data exist to provide an adequate test of it.

Thanks for the study, I've copied it onto my site at:

This confirms what I see every day, but not in schools; in government programs, such as subsidized housing. When you think of all the federal programs that test; all the businesses, all the subsidized housing - and consider the shift of what, 10% or more of that huge population FROM cannabis TO METH or something as bad or worse...and think of the social costs - how much more crime, how much more violence, how much more dangerous our world is...
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Prescription drugs find place in teen culture

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:09 pm

USA TODAY wrote:Prescription drugs find place in teen culture

Updated 6/13/2006 7:40 PM ET

By Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY

<img src=bin/usa_today-pharm_parties-eddie_cappiello.bmp align=right width=300 title="Eddie Cappiello holds his 6-week-old daughter Feb. 7. He died 10 days later after overdosing on a mix of pharmaceuticals. A toxicology report said he had the equivalent of 67 Xanax pills in his system.">When a teenager in Jan Sigerson's office mentioned a "pharm party" in February, Sigerson thought the youth was talking about a keg party out on a farm.

"Pharm," it turned out, was short for pharmaceuticals, such as the powerful painkillers Vicodin and OxyContin. Sigerson, program director for Journeys, a teen drug treatment program in Omaha, soon learned that area youths were organizing parties to down fistfuls of prescription drugs. Since February, several more youths at Journeys have mentioned that they attended pharm parties, Sigerson says.

"When you start to see a pattern, you know it's becoming pretty widespread," she says. "I expect it to get worse before it gets better."

Drug counselors across the USA are beginning to hear about similar pill-popping parties, which are part of a rapidly developing underground culture that surrounds the rising abuse of prescription drugs by teens and young adults.

It's a culture with its own lingo: Bowls and baggies of random pills often are called "trail mix," and on Internet chat sites, collecting pills from the family medicine chest is called "pharming."

Carol Falkowski, director of research communications for the Hazelden Foundation, says young abusers of prescription drugs also have begun using the Internet to share "recipes" for getting high. Some websites are so simplistic, she says, that they refer to pills by color, rather than their brand names, content or potency.

That, Falkowski says, could help explain why emergency rooms are reporting that teens and young adults increasingly are showing up overdosed on bizarre and potentially lethal combinations of pills.

Overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs accounted for about one-quarter of the 1.3 million drug-related emergency room admissions in 2004, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported last month.

The abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs — which barely registered a blip in drug-use surveys a decade ago — is escalating at what Falkowski and other analysts say is an alarming rate.

In a 2005 survey by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 19% of U.S. teenagers — roughly 4.5 million youths — reported having taken prescription painkillers such as Vicodin or OxyContin or stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall to get high.

Vicodin has been particularly popular in recent years; a study by the University of Michigan in 2005 found that nearly 10% of 12th-graders had used it in the previous year. About 5.5% said they had used OxyContin. Both drugs are now more popular among high school seniors than Ecstasy and cocaine.

Marijuana is still the most popular drug by far; about one-third of the 12th-graders surveyed said they had used it in the previous year.

<b>More socially acceptable </b>

Falkowski, whose foundation is a treatment center based in Center City, Minn., says prescription pills have become popular among youths because they are easy to get and represent a more socially acceptable way of getting high than taking street drugs.

<table class=posttable cols=3 align=left width=200><tr><td class=postcell colspan=3 align=center valign=bottom height=32><b>TEEN DRUG USE SHIFTS</b></td></tr><tr><td class=postcell colspan=3 valign=middle>Percentage of 12th-graders who said they had used certain drugs in the previous year:</td></tr><tr><td class=postcell><b><u>Drug</u></b></td><td class=postcell align=center><b><u>2002</u></b></td><td class=postcell align=center><b><u>2005</u></b></td></tr><tr></b><td class=postcell>Marijuana</td><td class=postcell align=center>36.2%</td><td class=postcell align=center>33.6%</td></tr><tr><td class=postcell>Cocaine</td><td class=postcell align=center>5.0</td><td class=postcell align=center>5.1</td></tr><tr><td class=postcell>Ecstasy</td><td class=postcell align=center>7.4</td><td class=postcell align=center>3.0</td></tr><tr><td class=postcell>OxyContin</td><td class=postcell align=center>4.0</td><td class=postcell align=center>5.5</td></tr><tr><td class=postcell>Vicodin</td><td class=postcell align=center>9.6</td><td class=postcell align=center>9.5</td></tr><tr><td class=postcell colspan=3>Source: Monitoring the Future survey by the University of Michigan</td><tr></table>Some kids, she says, are self-medicating undiagnosed depression or anxiety, while others are using stimulants to try to get an edge on tests and studying.

Falkowski says prescription drugs are familiar mood-altering substances for a generation that grew up as prescriptions soared for Ritalin and other stimulants to treat maladies such as attention-deficit disorder. "Five million kids take prescription drugs every day for behavior disorders," she says.

"It's not unusual for kids to share pills with their friends. There have been incidents where kids bring a Ziploc baggie full of pills to school and share them with other kids."

Pharm parties, she says, are "simply everyone pooling whatever pills they have together and having a good time on a Saturday night. Kids ... don't think about the consequences."

Lisa Cappiello, 39, of Brooklyn, N.Y., says that seemed to be the case with her son, Eddie. She says she knew that he had tried marijuana at 15 and sneaked beers at school.

But it wasn't until after he graduated from high school and took a year off before college that Cappiello realized the extent of her son's drug use — and the hold prescription drugs had on him.

"In what seemed like the blink of an eye, it went from marijuana and an occasional beer to so much Xanax that (one day) my husband had to pick him up when he feel asleep on a street corner waiting for some friends," she said. "He hid his drug use from me so well."

The next day, Eddie Cappiello admitted to his parents that he had taken 15 pills of Xanax, a brand name for benzodiazepine that acts as a sedative. He told his parents Xanax helped him deal with anxiety and depression.

Eddie rejected professional help and vowed to stop taking pills, his mother says. He was clean for 10 months, she says, before he was hospitalized in July 2005 after overdosing.

<img src=bin/usa_today-pharm_parties-mark_daniel_bauer.bmp align=right width=200 title="Mark Daniel Bauer started using prescription painkillers not prescribed to him for his back pain. He died May 28, 2004.">Two months later, he entered a 28-day treatment program, his mother says. After he was discharged, he stayed clean for about two months — then relapsed into weekend binging: 40 to 50 pills and a quart of Jack Daniel's, sometimes by himself, sometimes with friends, Lisa Cappiello says.

Eddie Cappiello, 22, died in his bed on Feb. 17 after overdosing on a mix of pharmaceuticals. He left behind a girlfriend and two young children.

A toxicology report said he had 134 milligrams of Xanax — the equivalent of 67 pills — and an opioid derivative in his system, his mother says.

"Before four years ago, I never even heard the word Xanax," Lisa Cappiello says. "Now ... I know kids as young as 12 are using it. Then I found out that Vicodin was a very big party drug. Before school, after school, at parties. Kids mixed them with alcohol and Ecstasy. It was baffling to me."

Cappiello says police, teachers and parents are so fixated on street drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy that they are missing the start of an epidemic.

"Eddie was not the first kid to die in this neighborhood from prescription drugs," she says.

'Troubling trend'

In recent months, federal anti-drug officials have acknowledged that they didn't anticipate the quick escalation of prescription-drug abuse. Most government-sponsored drug prevention programs focus on marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and methamphetamine.

"We were taken by surprise when we started to see a high instance of abuse of prescription drugs," says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), which is collecting information about how teens perceive, get and use prescription drugs so it can try to craft an effective prevention campaign.

In a bulletin last year, NIDA called the increase in pharmaceutical drug abuse among teens "disturbing" and said pharm parties were a "troubling trend."

The increasing availability of prescription drugs is a big reason for the rise in their abuse, Volkow and other drug specialists say.

Pharmaceutical companies' production of two often-abused prescription drugs — hydrocodone and oxycodone, the active ingredients in drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin — has risen dramatically as the drugs' popularity for legitimate uses has increased. Drug companies made 29 million doses of oxycodone in 2004, up from 15 million four years earlier. Hydrocodone doses rose from 14 million in 2000 to 24 million in 2004.

The 2005 Partnership survey found that more than three in five teens can easily get prescription painkillers from their parents' medicine cabinets. And as Falkowski says, the rising number of youths being treated with stimulants has made it easier for kids to use such drugs illicitly. About 3% of children are treated with a stimulant such as Adderall or Ritalin, up from less than 1% in 1987.

Almost all of the 13 youths at Phoenix House's intensive outpatient treatment program on New York City's Upper West Side have dabbled in prescription drugs, director Tessa Vining says.

"There's definitely easy access," she says. "Maybe a parent had some surgery and took one or two painkillers from a bottle of 10, and the rest are just hanging out in the medicine cabinet."

After her son died, Cappiello says she wondered how kids in her area were getting pills. She says she learned from police that one local dealer got Xanax from his mother, who had been given a prescription for the drug. Instead of taking the pills, she gave them to her son to sell for $2 to $3 each.

Paul Michaud, 18, of Boston, says he got his first taste of OxyContin pills — he calls them OCs — from a friend during his freshman year in high school.

Until then, Michaud says, he had smoked marijuana daily and taken a Percocet pill occasionally. Michaud's father had recently died of cancer, and Michaud says he was depressed and feeling like an outsider at school. The prescription painkiller made him feel like nothing could faze him, he recalls.

"The first time I did it, I was hooked," says Michaud, who is four months into a yearlong drug treatment program at Phoenix House in Springfield, Mass. He says he quickly became a daily OxyContin user, breaking apart the time-release capsules, crushing pills and snorting the powder from five 80-milligram pills a day.

"They're not very hard to get. I could find OCs easier than I could find pot," Michaud says. "There were plenty of people who sold them," including some dealers who got pills illicitly by mail order.

Cutting off the supply

<img src=bin/usa_today-pharm_parties-oxycontin.bmp align=left title="Oxycontin tablets">To try to reduce the supply of prescription drugs on the black market, authorities have shut down several "pill mills" — where doctors prescribe inordinate amounts of narcotics — as well as Internet pharmacies that ship drugs with little medical consultation, says Catherine Harnett, chief of demand reduction for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Last September, DEA agents arrested 18 people allegedly responsible for 4,600 such pharmacies.

A tricky part of the prescription-drug problem, Harnett says, is addressing the perception among youths that pills are safe because they are "medicine." Many teens don't equate taking such pills with using drugs such as heroin or cocaine, she says.

"If you start with pills, it seems fairly sanitary and legitimate," she says. "Kids have been lulled into believing that good medicine can be used recreationally."

Two in five teens in the Partnership study said prescription medicines, even if they are not prescribed by a doctor, are "much safer" to use than illegal drugs.

'A lot to live for'

Phil Bauer of York, Pa., believes his son, Mark, 18, an avid weight lifter, started using prescription drugs to relieve chronic back pain and didn't appreciate the potential risks of taking the drugs.

Bauer says his son never behaved as he imagined a drug addict would. "He wasn't hanging out all night. He had parents who wouldn't let him do that."

Mark Bauer died of an overdose on May 28, 2004. The toxicology report found morphine, oxycodone and acetaminophen — the active ingredient in Tylenol but also an ingredient in Vicodin — in his system, Phil Bauer says.

Before his son's death, "we didn't see a bleary-eyed guy. He wasn't slurring his words," the father says. "He seemed to have a lot to live for. I did not know prescription-drug abuse was a problem. There's so much guilt in that. I don't know if I stuck my head in the ground. I did not see this coming."

Michaud says he didn't equate his OxyContin addiction with hard-core drug abuse. "Where I come from, OC is a rich boys' drug," he says. "I thought, heroin abuse, that's pretty low. I'd never stick a needle in my arm."

However, Michaud says he eventually switched to heroin. "I sniffed it and a week later, I was shooting," he says. "I thought I wasn't like other people doing heroin. I wasn't that low. Come to figure out, it all leads to the same place."

Posted 6/12/2006 11:41 PM ET
Updated 6/13/2006 7:40 PM ET

Last edited by palmspringsbum on Tue Jun 13, 2006 8:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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