• 01-27-2008: Alaska Star


     

    Parents say over-the-counter home drug tests provide peace of mind 
     

    January 23, 2008
    By Taylor Atkins
    Morris News Service

    On the pillow, in the drain, from a brush – parents are finding peace of mind wherever their teenagers leave behind hair.

    A home drug test, called HairConfirm, that hit the shelves in June analyzes hair samples to determine drug use within the past three months. The company said thousands of kits have been sold and the main customers are parents who want to check on their teenagers anonymously.

    “We take no personal information,” said Zeynep Ilgaz, chief executive officer of Confirm BioSciences, the maker of HairConfirm. “But based on our survey results and our customer phone calls, we know most of our customers are parents looking for answers. They want to know what their children are doing.”

    Those answers for parents cost just $69.95 through CVS pharmacies and Amazon.com. But Calee Atkinson, a high-school junior, said she thinks they shouldn’t cost anything at all.

    “I think parents should be able to talk to their kids,” the 16-year-old said. “I would feel betrayed by my parents if they did the test. If they cared enough, they would confront me first.”

    Ilgaz said her company recommends parents talk to their children before sending in hair to be tested, but she knows some parents feel they have no other option. They turn to discarded hair in brushes and in drains for samples.

    Tracy Bush, Atkinson’s mother, said she would do whatever it takes to get the hair for testing, even if her daughter felt it was an invasion of privacy.

    “It’s not a privacy thing,” Bush said. “Drugs can ruin their lives. You can determine if they need help.”

    Though multiple home drug tests are available on the market, HairConfirm is the first with lab technology that not only analyzes hair for traces of seven drugs, but also can determine usage frequency up to 90 days. With about 90 strands, lab results, posted online within 48 hours of receiving the hair sample, tell parents what drugs their teens have used and if they are low-, medium- or high-frequency users.

    “That makes a big difference to parents in knowing how to get help,” Ilgaz said. “It’s the difference between a parent saying, my kid has experimented,’ and, my kid is addicted.”

    In a sampling of 1,162 test results from the last five months, Ilgaz said 21 percent came back positive for narcotics. The most common drug used, she said, was cocaine, with about 14 percent of the positive results.

    Marijuana, which is considered the most common illicit drug in the U.S., came in with just 2.5 percent of the positive results, though national surveys indicate much higher use among teens. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s 2007 Monitoring the Future survey, 41.8 percent of high school seniors said they had used marijuana at some point in their life.

    Test results

    – In a sampling of 1,162 HairConfirm test results from June through December, 75 percent (869) came back negative for traces of drugs or their metabolites.

    – 21 percent (240) came back positive for traces of drugs or their metabolites.

    – Out of the positive tests, 14 percent tested positive for cocaine.

    – 3.6 percent tested positive for meth.

    – 2.5 percent tested positive for marijuana.

    – 1.3 percent tested positive for ecstasy.

    – The remainder of the test results were unreadable, due to lab or user error.

    HairConfirm

    How it works

    – Parents purchase the home drug test kit, which includes instructions and prepaid envelope to send in samples.

    – Hair sample must include a “lock” of hair, or about 90 strands, to provide accurate results.

    – Parents send in the sample and then register a specimen ID number, passcode and e-mail address on the company’s Web site, hairconfirm.com.

    – When the results are available, they can be accessed using the information the parent registered.

    – Counseling options and service representatives are available to help with the results.

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    Categories: HairConfirm In the News

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