Drug, alcohol test kits available at local schools

Students disagree on whether tests will make a difference
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Several agencies in Placer County are hoping to prevent teen alcohol and drug use in the local community, and parents and students have mixed opinions. With a grant through the Placer County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, the association, Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Placer County Office of Education, Placer County Public Health Lab and Coalition for Placer Youth are making home drug test kits available for residents. Parents can purchase the 10-panel urine drug screening and saliva alcohol screening test kits at several local high schools for $10 and $2 respectively. Participating high schools include Chana, Del Oro, Colfax, Foresthill, Granite Bay and North Tahoe. School resource officers will be selling the tests, which parents can pay for with checks, money orders and exact change. The tests are also available at Placer County Sheriff’s Offices in Auburn, Loomis and Tahoe. Placer High Principal Peter Efstathiu said the tests are not currently available at the school. “No one ever approached me from the Sheriff’s Department to say we have this opportunity to do that,” Efstathiu said. “I don’t think we’d personally do something like that. I think we would rather tell parents where to get it.” Placer High mom Melodie Louree said she feels torn about the schools selling the tests. “I think that it’s important for parents to know,” Louree said. “They need to know what is going on with their child. I’m just undecided on whether or not it’s the school’s responsibility to provide the tests. But I think it’s very important for parents to know if their kids are under the influence.” Louree said she doesn’t think it’s necessary for Placer High to have the tests. “That’s not my particular wish,” she said. “I believe if a parent is resolved to finding out if their child is affected by drug use, then they are going to go somewhere that will give them that information.” According to Deputy Laurie Bettencourt, of the Placer County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, the tests analyze samples for various drugs. “The drug tests will give presumptive positive tests for amphetamines, methamphetamines, cocaine, opiates, PCP, marijuana, ecstasy, methadone, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines,” Bettencourt said. “The tests also check for adulteration, tampering with the sample with the intention of altering the test results, such as diluting the urine sample or adding agents to the urine which destroy the drugs in the sample.” The saliva alcohol tests analyze a person’s blood alcohol content after two minutes. Schools and sheriff’s offices won’t be taking the information of those who buy the tests, and they also won’t attempt to follow up with those who buy them, Bettencourt said. Bettencourt said parents who want more comprehensive testing could also take the test samples to the Placer County Public Health Lab. Parents working with schools and law enforcement may prevent teens from using drugs in the future, which could keep them from being involved in disastrous situations, Bettencourt said. “New research shows that teens who use alcohol/drugs are more prone to impulsive behaviors that put them at risk of injury and doing something they will regret when they are sober, including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, fighting and unprotected sexual activity,” she said. Placer High Junior Kayla Cave, 17, said she thinks the tests are a good idea and would encourage students not to use drugs. “I think if the parents allow it, not the school, I think they have the right to (have the tests),” Cave said. “I think we do have a drug problem, and it should be taken care of.” Joy Mitchell, mother of two Placer High students, said she thinks the tests would be helpful. “We personally have drug tested our kids at home,” Mitchell said. “We bought drug tests online. We felt that was a deterrent (to them using drugs). I have had other parents come and ask me how to get them.” Mitchell said she wishes the tests were available at Placer High. Sophomore Brennon Harrison, 15, said the tests not being available at Placer High doesn’t affect him at all. Harrison said he thinks it’s more convenient for parents if tests are sold at schools, but he doesn’t think tests will make a difference in students’ drug use habits. “I think that most of the (students) who are doing (drugs), their parents don’t care that much about it,” he said. “The parents who do care are already doing (something about it).” Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------ Drug and alcohol test kits Where to find them: Chana, Del Oro, Colfax, Foresthill, Granite Bay and North Tahoe high schools, and the Auburn, Loomis and Tahoe sheriff’s offices. Cost: $10 drug screening kits, $2 alcohol screening kits