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The most critical aspect of drug testing is not the result but the reaction the person has when asked to take the test. Most addicts know they will probably not be called on their bluff if they agree to drug testing, and even if they are, the testing will be on their terms, and they can get clean enough to beat it.
If you are a family reading this, you probably do not have to go through with the drug test because we are sure your loved one’s behaviors are erratic and out of character enough for you to be considering a drug test in the first place. The results of the drug test don’t change why you wanted to give your loved one a drug test, nor does it change the behaviors of your loved one, the reason for the test.
Is It Okay to Drug Test With Interventions?
Families cling to the hope that maybe the drug test will come back negative and then everything will be OK, yet your loved one still continues to act abnormally. The answer is in the behavior of your loved one, not in the drug test.
When doing an intervention for families, we explain that it is not what their loved one is using, where they are using, or how much or how little they use. It only matters what your loved one is doing as a result of taking drugs. If your son or daughter were pulling straight As at Yale University with life moving forward in a positive direction, but you knew he or she drank, smoked weed, and did occasional coke on the weekends, you wouldn’t like it, but you wouldn’t be reading this.
College kids drink more alcohol and smoke more marijuana than some we meet during our drug and alcohol interventions, so why don’t we intervene in them? Because their decisions are not affecting them negatively, or anyone else, to the point that anyone is in danger.
Drug Test Information
Drug tests are made to be beaten, and most likely, a drug addict or alcoholic knows just how to do that. The hardest part of being an addiction counselor and interventionist is talking to parents about why the drug test option is almost never reliable. Even if the drug test does come back positive, the substance abuser is almost always going to say that it was a one-time thing or that they did the drugs a long time ago.
For the most part, drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin, Oxycontin, and crystal meth can be out of the system and off the drug test’s radar in as little as three days. Alcohol won’t show up at all from an over-the-counter test. Other than marijuana, nearly all drugs fail to show up on a urine test longer than 5 days at the maximum after use. If your loved one is behaving in such a way that you feel a drug test is necessary, you would be better off if it were drugs that are much easier to treat than mental illness. Either way, your loved one will still need intervention and treatment.