Family Pledge

Note: You are now reading the “Family Pledge” which is an integral part of what we teach.  We suggest you read this first so please continue reading!

The few that say drug testing is a violation of a teen’s rights should look around a little.  Just like an employer can be held responsible for employees actions, a parent can be held responsible for their teen’s actions.   All kinds of people have to take drug tests.  There are millions of adults, every year, who must take a drug test if they want

to keep their job.  In hundreds of different jobs (police, fire fighters, military, truck driving, health care, blue collar, white collar etc.) pre-employment and random drug testing is mandatory with severe punishments for positive results including, but not limited to, losing your job.  Many athletes in high school, college and professional leagues also have to participate in random drug testing if they want to play. Drug testing is a part of life and there is nothing wrong with learning this at an early age.

Addressing the Problem

If your teen or pre-teen does use drugs, they will probably deny it to you.  Most drug counselors agree that by the time a parent suspects drug use it’s already well under way.  The average teen has been using drugs about 2 years by the time they are caught.

Parents want to keep their children away from drugs, but most don’t know how.  Open family discussions and active parent participation are crucial deterrents to drug experimentation by children. Learning to be proactive is the key!

Note: At no time do we offer any kind of therapy.  There are professionals in this field for that.  Our purpose is to help educate parents about drug use and abuse and provide access to drug testing supplies to those who see value in drug testing their teen at home.  Our Parent Drug Manual covers when it may be appropriate to call for professional help on page 20. Call or email us to get the Parent Drug Manual.

The Solution

The best way to confront drug use in adolescents is to bring the issue home to them. Much of what follows is also addressed in the Manual; we included it here for easy reference.

The first step begins with a dialogue between you and your teen about what behaviors and values are acceptable within your family regarding drug usage. Then writing them down for all to see and understand – this is called The Family Pledge.  In this manner, you personalize the pledge to meet your family’s specific needs.

Have a family meeting, sit down with your children and talk about the dangers of drug use and how, as a parent, it is your job to help them make the right decisions.  Then talk about how drug testing is a part of the process.  Introduce this process as a positive and caring expression of your concern.  Address any questions and assure them it’s not about busting them, it’s a health and legality issue so treat is as such.  You may want to mention how using random drug testing at home gives them an easier way out of peer pressure, “I can’t try it, my parents’ drug test me”. Even better they can add, “And if I get caught they will make me tell them where I got the drugs”.  Random testing is as important as regular visits to the family doctor to prevent and detect infectious diseases.   You can also teach them that mandatory drug testing is just a part of life like it is for tens of millions of adults.  The idea is to prevent and deter drug use before it starts.

Then, decide together what you think appropriate action should be if caught using drugs- loss of driving privileges, counseling, curfew, etc.  Add these agreements to the contract.  Remember that you are in control.  The parents and children then need to sign the contract.  We recommend that, unless there is already an active drug problem, what happened in the past is declared over and you start fresh from today.  It doesn’t mean you don’t discuss past issues, it means you don’t punish for them.  Creating a safe space for your children to speak is very important.

When talking, make sure things are clear to your children.  For example: Alcohol is a drug which is illegal for all of those under 21 years old.  Also, talk about how you are going to handle certain situations.  For example: Your teen gets home from a party and shows signs of being intoxicated.  Your agreement could be to talk about it in the morning.

The critical element in enforcing the guidelines of the pledge and preserving its integrity is drug testing.  Home drug testing is private, reliable, non-invasive and provides immediate results.  Create a random drug testing policy that’s right for your family and stick to it.  The empty threat of testing does not work.  Make a plan then work the plan.

How Often Should I test?

There is no one right answer for this.  The military randomly tests 8 percent of its members every month.  They also have testing for personnel when they return from leave and when they return from off base and have near zero people who use drugs.

Commercial truck drivers working for the thousands of trucking companies in the USA had an initial positive rate of 18%.  Ten years after mandatory drug testing was initiated, drivers tested at a positive rate of less than 3%.  This industry doesn’t test as much as the military. There seems to be a correlation between the amount of testing and the rate of positive results– test more and people seem to take fewer chances.

If you suspect there could already be a problem or believe they are a risk in general, obviously it would make sense to test more often and possibly set up a meeting to speak with a drug counselor.  The idea is to test often enough so your teen doesn’t feel it’s worth the risk to even try.  “At least once a month” would be an aggressive policy.

Never have a set amount like, “once every 2 months”.  Always write, “at least…” because some may feel like they have a free pass once they meet the quota for the time period.  Keeping them guessing is a key to success.  You may test them once in a 2 month period and then test them 3 times in the next 2 month period.  Testing after a party, at least occasionally, may also be a good idea.

They should expect that if you suspect something from the way they are acting (Signs of Drug Use on page 19 of The Manual) they will be tested.  Waiting the next day to test may be a good idea if you suspect they are under the influence which may help avoid the possibility of a conflict.  Even if they admit to using you should still test.  They may tell you they smoked marijuana when they really took heroin which may call for a different response.  Drug testing, while maintaining an open dialog, is just one of many ways to be active in your childs life.

Make sure you check out “Drug Test Instructions” under the “Parent Resource Tab” on our Home Page before you start testing at home.

If My Child Refuses to Take the Drug Test

Unfortunately, if your child outright refuses to take a drug test, it is likely that they are already using drugs.  If home testing is patiently and kindly explained, most adolescents will have nothing to fear and would consent, even if it meant just placating your concerns.  In the work world, adults who are required to submit to testing and refuse get the same consequences as a positive test result.  Thus, if your child refuses, it waves a big warning signal that something may be amiss.  If they refuse to take a drug test:

  • First, acknowledge that they control the flow of their urine, and if he/she does not want to take the test, then they do not have to.  The choice is up to him or her.
  • Review your Family Pledge.  Drugs damage the body and the brain the way cigarettes damage the lungs.  Express how much you care about your child, you love them, and you only want what is best.
  •  After calmly explaining why you want to test and giving the power to your child to choose whether they want to test or not, you can explain the consequences for not testing are the same as the consequences for testing positive.  The consequences should be clearly stated in your Family Pledge – loss of computer time, movie, allowance, car keys, etc. – whatever you decide upon.  Most importantly, if he/she complies with the family policy, and are ever found to be positive for an illicit drug, they will be given another chance to improve their behavior.  Our program is meant to be a preventative measure to drug use, not as a means to “bust” them.  Your child will always get another chance – be it through home intervention or professional treatment!

It‘s a simple choice, and your child has to make it.  It’s just part of growing up.  You love your child, and you shouldn’t care how long it takes for them not to go to school football games, drive, or go to school dances and parties.  It doesn’t matter if it takes a month, two months, or even a year.  When he/she is ready to donate a sample for testing they can begin taking the steps to gain the lost privileges enjoyed by compliant members of your family.  Find a way to spend more quality time with your teen even if they are home because of a positive test result. 

Remember: Drug use is a call for help.  This is not about punishment, it’s about being proactive and making sure your teen gets whatever help they need.

Idea: One way to start drug testing is to begin with a saliva based test instead of the urine based one.  A teen using Marijuana knows it can be detected in a urine test for up to about 6 weeks.  They may view testing as a means to bust them for past mistakes causing mistrust from day one.  A Saliva test detects most drugs for up to 3 days and marijuana for about 1 day.  Waiting 3 days and then using a saliva based test, before starting urine based testing, allows for a fresh start.  Then continue using saliva tests for the first 7 weeks before starting the urine tests.  This can build trust by not making it about past mistakes and gives your teen a reason to stop using or come clean by talking about it.

If you work the plan, it works, and your family is worth it.

Below is a starting point for your Family Pledge.  You should add or subtract anything to make it fit your family’s needs.  (If you feel you’ve added something important, or simply have a good idea, please share it with us so we can add it to our site and benefit other families.)  If you choose to add or subtract something at a later date, do it.  Changes will provide another opportunity to work together as a family.  If you have questions or comments please go to www.TestingTeensForDrugs.com and click “Contact Us”.  You may want to “copy” and “paste” The Family Pledge to a word document so you can easily change it.

 

The Family Pledge

As a member of the ___________________________________ family, we agree to the following family policy regarding the use of illegal drugs (including the misuse of prescription drugs and alcohol).  We understand that drug addiction acts as a disease, which can have serious physical and emotional consequences – consequences that could hurt or even be deadly to me, the family, friends, and those people we associate with.  Given the serious nature, we accept and pledge to follow the rules established below regarding the use of drugs.

We pledge to:

  1. Set an example and abstain from the use of illegal drugs and alcohol.
  2. Avoid enabling others who use these substances by not covering up or lying about their actions.
  3. Never drive with someone known to use illegal substances or alcohol.
  4. Discuss thoroughly the effects of drug use, and how we will handle particular situations when and if they should arise.
  5. Seek information and assistance in dealing with a drug use problem.
  6. Be honest and open about our feelings and problems.  We will listen to eachother and participate in this Plege together.
  7. Ensure that the family understands their commitment to this Pledge and the consequences of violating any rules.
  8. A refusal to take a drug test will be deemed the same as a positive test result.

Actions for not following rules:

1. Loss of driving privileges and new 10pm curfew for 2 months

2. No more video games or computer (other than for homework) for 1 months

3. Pay your own car insurance for 6 months

4. No school football games or dances for 3 months

5. No more weekend parties for 2 months

6. No more friends over or mall for 1 months

7. Meeting with a drug counselor is always an option.

8. A refusal to test means we meet with a drug counselor.

Note: All consequence time periods will end only if drug tests are negative for entire time and the amount of testing will at least double.  Any positive results will double consequence time and may add a visit to a drug counselor.

Use some, all, or add to what’s above.  Use this to spend more time and become more active with your teen!  Finding another way to connect with them is not a reward, it’s just good parenting.

Drug Testing Frequency: Testing will be at least 1 time per month on a random day to be decided by the parent(s).

    Signature_____________________________________

Signature_____________________________________

    Signature_____________________________________

 Signature_____________________________________

Date ______________________

 The Family Pledge is intended to be a guideline to encourage the creation, exchange and commitment to a drug free family.  

 

Note: The above Pledge is only a sample.  You get to say what goes on it!  The idea is to be as proactive and clear as possible and cut off any potential drug problems or misunderstandings   If your children plan to follow the rules there shouldn’t be too many complaints about any consequences.  You may want to initial each item as you cover it.

The purpose is to keep the family safe and give your teen an easy way to say “NO” to drugs when they are approached. “I can’t, my parents drug test me” is honest and it takes pressure off them to try drugs and helps saves face.  Even if the other person says, ‘Oh man that sucks” and your teen says, “Yeah I know” that’s fine.  Let them put it all on you as long as they say “no”.

Create a Follow-up Plan

Once you have set a family policy about drug usage in motion, you need to know how you will maintain it, and keep the conversation an ongoing one.  The issue of drugs is not a “one pep-talk and stop.”  The door for questions and answers must always be open.

As situations arise, especially with peer pressure, you must discuss, maybe even “act out” the potential scenarios and solutions, so you all agree on how it would be appropriate to deal with them.

Praise positive behavior.  A good word from a caring parent can encourage and strengthen what your child is doing right.  Granting privileges upon good and consistent behavior is akin to the real world, where one is promoted and recognized for good, solid work.

And if ever you should find that your child is using drugs, you need to know how you will handle it.  Do not be judgmental or critical, the consequences of their actions should already be laid out in your Family Pledge.  You must know the exact steps you are going to take to combat the problem immediately and successfully.  This is not a time to “wing it.”  Be prepared for the “what if…” scenarios.

Work together as a family to build a plan and then follow it.  If professional help is needed seek it.  But truly, the clearest point is, one way or another, you must intervene!  There is to be no compromise on this issue!

Whether you step up your family intervention process, or seek professional treatment, you should be prepared to do whatever it takes to get your child the help and guidance they need.  The life you save may be your kid’s.