by Robin F. DeMattia


Drug Free Collier has distributed more than 400 free at-home drug tests since September, responding to parents who want to do all they can to keep their children safe.

“On average, parents aren’t aware of their child’s drug use until two years after drug use starts,” says Ana DiMercurio, assistant director. “This test gives them an opportunity to intervene as early as possible.”

And, she adds, it may help prevent a child from using drugs. “If a child is offered drugs, they can say, ‘No, I can’t. My parents are crazy enough to drug test me.’ So, it deters drug use. Even good kids can give into peer pressure and make bad choices.”

The First Check test, which retails for $40, is a simple urine collection that shows results in five minutes. The tests are more than 99 percent accurate, and results may also be verifiedfor free by sending the urine collection to First Check. A negative sample does not need to be sent into the lab for further testing.

The kit tests for the 12 most commonly abused drugs: amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, Ecstasy, marijuana, methadone, methamphetamine, opiates(heroin), Oxycodone, phencyclidine (PCP) and tricyclic antidepressants. It does not test for alcohol. Kits can be picked up at the Drug Free Collier office, 3003 Tamiami Trail North, Suite303, by calling first at 239-377-0535. Kits will also be distributed April 25 during the Collier County Public Schools Town Hall on Drug Prevention from 6 to 7 p.m. at the district’s administration center, 5775 Osceola Trail. The kits include a family drug prevention plan that outlines signs of drug abuse, has pictures of drug paraphernalia, and provides tips for how to talk with teens about drugs.

The national drug prevention program notMYkid recommends implementing in home drug testing no later than age 12, because 13 is the average age at which kids begin experimentation, and testing monthly. They say middle school students are more likely to still respect and listen to their parents, at least more often than a high school student.

If the test is positive, parents move from the prevention to intervention stage.

The website lists local resources such as the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County, David Lawrence Center and Youth Haven. Other tips can be found

Parents who don’t want to use an at home drug test are encouraged to start speaking with their children about drugs. Ask how they feel about their friends who may have been caught with marijuana. Find out what they have heard about alcohol and drugs from teachers or other students in school. Use television shows or news reports to start a conversation. Make it personal by talking about drug trends from their high school years or a family member who used drugs.

And, importantly, they should tell their children what the family’s position is on alcohol and drugs.

Signs of Drug Use

  • A drop in grades
  • Isolates from family
  • Poor achievement
  • Moods are up and down
  • Dishonesty
  • Tobacco use
  • Change in peer groups
  • Draws pot leaves, drugs, or drug symbols
  • Parental defiance
  • Red, watery, or glassy eyes
  • Uses eye drops to hide red eyes
  • Late or unexplained hours
  • Rejection of parental values
  • Have found unexplained paraphernalia
  • Disappearance of money or possessions
  • Defiance about drug use
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Loss of interest in previous hobbies and activities

Courtesy of

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