Parents can use tests to see if their children are abusing illegal drugs

FAIRVIEW - Parents who are concerned that their teens are using drugs now have a new place to turn for help - the Fairview Police Department.

The department is participating in the Parent Aid program, which offers free, confidential drug tests to families with children and teens age 18 or younger.

'It's a very effective program,' said Fairview Police Chief Ken Johnson. 'It's definitely something we want for our citizens.'

The Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, Oregon State Sheriffs' Association and Oregon State Police endorse the Parent Aid program.

Johnson emphasized that the test has nothing to do with law enforcement or prosecution. It is strictly voluntary. A form families must sign before the tests are administered specifically states that the results cannot be used in court.

The police department will not retain any information from the tests except the age and gender of the participant and whether the test was positive or negative, Johnson said. This information will be used for statistical purposes only.

The goal of the Parent Aid program is to provide families with the resources they need to intervene if teens are using drugs.

All of Fairview's officers have been trained on how to administer the free test and will assist families who are interested in intervention or counseling by providing them with a list of agencies to call for help.

The thing that sold Johnson on the program was the idea that some teens actually used the test as a reason to say no to drugs.

He said he has even heard of a limited number of cases where teens asked to take the test to prove to their parents that they were not using drugs.

'I am excited,' Johnson said. 'I think this will be a really great program for families in crisis.'

The test screens for five families of drugs: marijuana, amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine and opiates. It does not test for most prescription medications or drugs like ecstasy, Johnson said.

Test results are available in about 5 minutes. If someone questions the results, an additional test can be performed at a lab for $20, but Johnson said a special procedure is done to make sure the samples aren't tampered with.

Appointments are preferred, but families can also drop by the Fairview Police Department, 1300 N.E. Village St., to get tested.

'If we save one kid from a life of drug abuse, it was well worth the effort,' Johnson said.

Warning signs of drug use

• Deterioration in school performance

• Secrecy

• Attitude changes

• Behavior problems

• High-risk behavior, such as stealing

• Extreme mood swings (watch for depression)

• Sexual promiscuity

• Withdrawal from family activities

• Changes in friends

• Changes in eating habits

• Changes in sleep patterns

• Difficulty waking adolescent

• Peculiar odors on clothing

• Missing alcohol or money from home

• Slurred speech

• Appearing spaced-out

• Dilated pupils

• Presence of drug paraphernalia (pipes, pill boxes, straws, spoons, cigarette papers, etc.)

• Clothing depicting drug themes

- Information from the parent aid program

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