09-29-2007: South Carolina Now
Drug tests: Home kits test human hair follicles for traces of narcotics
South Carolina NowSeptember 29 – 4.36PM
Parents express different opinions on testing teens for drug useBy Jamie Rogers
Parents have ways aside from suspicions and searching bedrooms to determine whether their child has been using drugs.
Do-it-yourself home kits that test human hair follicles for traces of narcotics are becoming increasingly popular among teenagers’ parents.
Many of the new kits detect drug use for as many as 90 days, while many saliva and urine tests only can detect traces if the person has used drugs a few days before the specimen was taken.
A hair testing kit developed by Confirm BioSciences is billed as the only test in the nation that also can detect how often a drug has been used.
Zeynep Ilgaz, president and CEO of Confirm BioSciences, said the HairConfirm kit detects such drugs as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, ecstasy, heroin and codeine.
“We can give the parent a full quantitative report,” she said. “It tells you, for example, there’s a thousand milligrams of cocaine in the person’s body; based on that, we can say he’s a low or medium user. There’s no way anybody can ever cheat on the test because we test the molecules in the hair.”
Ilgaz said her company developed the product because many parents were asking for it. “The were calling us and asking if there was something (they could) use at home that was accurate,” she said. “So we developed this product based on the demand we got from parents.”
Marion resident India Waiters said she has heard of such products, but has never used them on her 15-year-old daughter, Sharri Reid. “It’s a good thing that I’ve not had to do that, but if I suspected my child, then I’ll tell you up front – yes, I would do it,” Waiters said.
Parents take a small sample of hairs that are at at least one-and-a-half-inches long by cutting close to the scalp. The specimen is packaged and sent to a lab that will make the results available within about two business days by mail or by entering a specimen identification number and passcode online. Parents also can send in hair samples from a comb or a brush without the child’s knowledge, but the company recommends talking with the child first, Ilgaz said.
“I wouldn’t even tell them,” Waiters said. “I would say, ‘Come here, sweetheart, let me comb your hair,’ and next thing you know – boom – it’ll be gone.” If a test should come back positive, Waiters said she would be sure to talk with her daughter and then get her the proper assistance.
Confirm Biosciences has a free counseling hotline for parents to help them determine what type of intervention is needed, Ilgaz said. Florence resident Wanda Muldrow, who has a 15-year-old daughter, said the need for such a product is a little shocking to her.
“I never did think it would come to that,” Muldrow said. “But just looking and seeing what is happening to society now, you can never say that a child wouldn’t do something like that.” Muldrow said even though her daughter, Lace, is very good, she still would test her if she ever suspected drug use.
Even though a recent poll sponsored by notMYkid, a national drug abuse prevention organization, found two-thirds of-parents would test their children, Waiters said she isn’t sure the product would ever become a commonplace item in every home. “You’re going to have some naive parents out here saying, ‘No, my child doesn’t do that,”and then there’s some that are like, “Yeah, I’m going to (test them), but I’m not going to tell them,” Waiters said.
The HairConfirm kits can be purchased on Amazon.com and http://www.cvs.com/. The product might soon be available in Kmart and pharmacies in the Pee Dee, as well, Ilgaz said.
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09-29-2007: South Carolina Now
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