AAP Recommendations on Drug Testing for Children & Adolescents

From the Show: Healthy Children
Summary: Drug testing in adolescents can be useful as a part of a complete assessment for substance use or mental health disorders.
Air Date: 6/4/14
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Sharon Levy, MD, MPH
2013 Levy Sharon 2redoSharon Levy, MD, MPH, is a board certified Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School; she also has a Master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.

She is the Director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program in the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital where she has evaluated and treated hundreds of adolescents with substance use disorders. She has published extensively on the outpatient management of substance use disorders in adolescents, including screening and brief advice in primary care, the use of drug testing and the outpatient management of opioid dependent adolescents. Dr. Levy is the PI of the SAMHSA-funded medical residency SBIRT project at Children's Hospital Boston and an NIAAA-funded study validating the youth alcohol screening tool in a population of youth with chronic medial illness.

Dr. Levy currently serves as the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Substance Abuse.
AAP Recommendations on Drug Testing for Children & Adolescents
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.

Dr. Sharon Levy joins host Melanie Cole to explain the elements of drug testing and how it can be helpful in your child's safety and development.
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