Drug testing is a complex medical procedure that can be useful as a part of a complete assessment for
substance use or
mental health disorders in adolescents.
To help pediatricians determine whether and when drug testing may be useful and how to best use this procedure when indicated, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated the clinical report, "Testing for Drugs of Abuse in Children and Adolescents," in the June 2014 Pediatrics (published online May 26).
The AAP, along with many other national organizations, advises against involuntarily drug testing adolescents; in this document the AAP provides guidance on how parents and clinicians can manage if an adolescent refuses a drug test that is clinically indicated.
The AAP recommends that pediatricians discuss who will receive results with adolescents and their parents
before ordering a drug test. Drug testing can be used to identify substance use and may be useful for monitoring patients in
treatment for substance use disorders; it can also be invasive and results can easily be misinterpreted so the procedure should be used with caution. It is important for pediatricians, who are on the front lines of detecting and addressing drug use in children, to understand and be prepared to use the tools and strategies effective in these endeavors.