Teen Drug Use Continues to Fall

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released its annual numbers on US teenagers and substance abuse. In the past year, use of illicit drugs (except marijuana) has held steady at its lowest levels in over two decades. The biggest news of all is that opioid misuse by teens is at historic lows. However, NIDA has also found that teens really like to vape. Continue reading “Teen Drug Use Continues to Fall” »

Opioid Abuse in North Carolina’s Middle Schools

It is shocking that students are abusing drugs at younger and younger ages. Students in middle and high school across North Carolina’s Piedmont region are addicted to powerfully potent drugs. So much so that school resource officers said they’ve caught them getting high in class with their teacher in the room. Continue reading “Opioid Abuse in North Carolina’s Middle Schools” »

Teens: Be Aware of How Marijuana Use Alters DNA & Increases Risk of Disease

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, affects DNA causing problems for future generations.

A new study conducted by The University of Western Australia discovered that the widely used illicit drug has serious negative health effects.

A reported 22.2 million people smoked marijuana in the month that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) conducted its study.

Many of these users, particularly teens, are probably not aware of the dangerous effects of marijuana abuse.

Continue reading “Teens: Be Aware of How Marijuana Use Alters DNA & Increases Risk of Disease” »

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Poses Serious Risks


In November, the American Medical Association (AMA) made moves to ensure that pregnant women and their children will no longer be impacted by recreational marijuana use during pregnancy. Considering that self-reported usage rates among pregnant women range from 2-5%, increasing 15-28% in young, urban, and poor women, it seems their intervention is necessary.

Their first steps included promoting regulations that will require the placement of warnings on medical and recreational marijuana products, as well as placement of warnings wherever these products are sold.

What led to these recommendations? The AMA took into account several studies linking marijuana usage during pregnancy to medical and mental issues in children. Their recommendations also affect breastfeeding mothers.

Read on for more specific details about their recommendations and the affect the marijuana can have on children.

Continue reading “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Poses Serious Risks” »

Study Finds Link Between Drugs & Concussions

It’s been known as a “silent epidemic,” affecting thousands of children and teens every year: concussions. More than 173,000 kids and teenagers are already seen every year due to brain injuries, including concussions, and that number could be even higher. Now, a new study has emerged, claiming that teens who smoke pot and drink alcohol, even on occasion, are at higher risk of getting a concussion than their peers who don’t. concussion risk higher for ten drug users

What is a concussion?

A concussion is caused by a sudden blow to the head that shakes the brain against the skull. It can be due to a collision while playing sports, a fall, a car crash or fighting.

Concussion Symptoms

Obvious signs of a concussion include passing out or forgetting what happened before the injury occurred. It’s common for people to experience other symptoms too, including having trouble thinking and remembering information, emotional changes, having headaches or dizziness and a change in sleep patterns. However, concussions often go unnoticed, as the symptoms aren’t always visible or immediately noticeable— especially if the teen doesn’t pass out. Effects can last for hours, days or even months.

The Study

Canadian researched have found a link between kids and teens who drink and/or smoke pot with a higher risk of getting a concussion. They surveyed nearly 9,000 Ontario students between 7th and 12th grade from the general population and found that students who occasionally or frequently drank or smoked were at 5 times the risk than those who didn’t. While the study doesn’t have an answer as to why this is true, the evidence backs it up.

Other Links

Using drugs and drinking alcohol may not be the only factor contributing to concussions. Studies show that males and students who have lower grades in school are more prone to getting a concussion, and those who play contact sports are always at higher risk.

Talk to your teen about the risks of using drugs and alcohol. If you think he or she may be using these substances, Test Smartly Labs can help.


Why a Busy Summer Might be the Best Thing for your Teen

teens leaving school for summer School sessions across the country are wrapping up the semester and parents are breathing a sigh of relief before they gear up for summer.

The school year keeps families busy. Your teens might be burned out after a long semester capped by a series of final exams. They probably want to relax (and you do, too). Summer is designed to give your kids a break, but planning a busy summer might be better for your teens.

Why Make Plans for the Summer?

You might be wondering how a crazy-busy summer could help your teens. Helping your teens make plans for their break will help both you and them for these reasons:

1. Help them stay in a routine. The school year has a predictable routine. Teens know what time to wake up, when they should go to bed and what activities they have on certain days. When school ends, everything is up in the air. There are no practices or club meetings to help differentiate the days. Keeping a predictable routine will help them build discipline and be prepared for the next school year.

2. More teens experiment with drugs over the summer. Research released last summer revealed that more teens try drugs and alcohol for the first time during June and July than the rest of the year. Researchers show that about 11,000 teens first try alcohol, 5,000 try smoking a cigarette and 4,500 try marijuana over the summer. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the report. Busy teens will have less chance of trying drugs or alcohol.

3. Teach them life skills. When teens are on a summer break, you have the chance to focus on important values and life skills. Your teens might be heading off to college soon. Take advantage of the summer months to encourage them to continue pursuing their interests, keep their minds sharp and stay physically active. They can learn practical things that are harder to learn during the school year.

How to Make a Summer Plan of Action

Talk to your teens about how they will fill their summer days. While one teen might have dreams of making money, another might want to spend every minute outside. Help your teens make a plan for staying busy and enjoying their time off.

Get a Job

If your teens are old enough, help them look for a summer job. Lots of local places need part time summer help. Encourage your teens to find something they are interested in. If your teens are too young to work or don’t have reliable transportation for a job, encourage them to find other ways to make money. Some teens might do lawn work, help neighbors with housework or babysit.

Take a Class

Summer school is not a pleasant phrase for most teenagers. You can find some great educational classes or workshops in your area, though. Local schools and community centers host courses in all sorts of categories including science, art, drama, or athletics. Look around for options and let your teen pick one or two.

Go to Camp

Summer camp hasn’t lost its appeal yet. There are day camps and overnight camps for every teenager. Check out the options for sport, art, theater, and science camps.

Help Out

Start talking to your teens about volunteer options. There are opportunities for any interest. Helping your teens plan a summer-long community service project or routine will really encourage them to make volunteering a part of their lives. Check out the opportunities at animal shelters, hospitals, libraries, parks and churches.

Worried Your Teen is Trying Drugs?

If you’re worried that your teenager is trying out drugs, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Kansas City area locations. We can help you think of ways to keep your teens busy and run drug tests.

Drugs disappoint hopeful LS West fans, parents

Disappointing news came from the Missouri-side of the state this week. A top football player at LS West, and one of the most hopeful prospects being recruited, was arrested after resisting law enforcement who found drugs in his car. Students are upset at what this means for their football team and the opportunity to have one of their own “make it big.” While the jury’s out on what the arrest and suspension means for this student, one thing is clear – drugs at school and student athletes in possession of marijuana will not be tolerated.

The school’s appropriate response to drugs

LS West player arrested … had drugs in his car.

My team at Test Smartly Labs of Kansas City would like to give props to the administrators at Lee’s Summit West for doing the right thing, although it might bring unwanted repercussions. It would have been easy to overlook the behaviors or suspicions that a top player was using or in possession of drugs. Especially a player who carries the prospect of bringing fame and attention to the school and its athletic programs. However, the school stood by its drug and alcohol policy:

Any student in possession of, buying, under the influence of, or using a controlled substance, illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, alcohol, mood altering chemicals or nonprescription drugs, or any student who represents any substance as one of the above, will be suspended for up to ten days with a possible referral to the Superintendent, which could result in a suspension of up to 180 days. (From the LS West Student handbook).

The player’s mistaken response to law enforcement

What’s sad about this story isn’t just that drugs were found in this student athlete’s car – it’s that he resisted authorities and ended up getting arrested. Although he might be a superstar on the football field, life and reality came rushing in this week as his photo was plastered in newspapers and on TV stations for his unfortunate bad decision. We’d recommend that he reads up on other football players like Ricky Williams who also thought he was above the law and had his career jeopardized based on poor decisions.

Facebook responses of both students and alum of the school ranged from being angry and upset at the player for making such a bad decision to angry at the school because “marijuana isn’t that big of deal.” Seems like the report that many high school students are trying marijuana is ringing all too true this week with supporters of the player discounting the dangers of weed.

Drugs have no place in high school sports

This local story reinforces that drugs have no place in high school sports – even if they’re sitting in a player’s parked car. School districts are encouraged to follow the example of LS West and have a no-tolerance policy for any student to be in possession of illegal drugs or alcohol – particularly on school property. If you’re a school in the KC area and need a reliable drug testing partner, please contact my team.

Drugs are a big deal and they must be kept out of the schools. Good job to LS West for ensuring that was the case with their school this week – even with what it may have just cost them and their football team.

Marijuana Use linked to Testicular Cancer?

A team of researchers at the University of Southern California believes they’ve found an interesting link, marijuana and testicular cancer.  In fact, the study has led these researchers to believe that marijuana use amongst teenage males can double the risk of testicular cancer.


“We do not know what marijuana triggers in the testes that may lead to carcinogenesis, although we speculate that it may be acting through… the cellular network that responds to the active ingredient in marijuana, since this system has been shown to be important in the formation of sperm,” said Victoria Cortessis, lead author and assistant professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. (source)

Cortessis claims that testicular cancer is the most common form for men between the ages of 15 and 45.  She also claims that it is on the rise.

“This isn’t the first time that this information has come out,” said Michael Craycraft, testicular cancer survivor and founder of the Testicular Cancer Society, a support and advocacy group for men and boys diagnosed with the disease.

“There have been at least two other studies in the past couple of years that have basically shown the same thing,” he said. “In particular, that marijuana smoking is associated with nonseminoma, a harder-to-treat kind of testicular cancer.” (source)

Scary stuff, guys.

For young men, living life and having a great time, this is scary.  And to all those folks who claim nothing bad comes from marijuana use… you heard it here first.  “This isn’t the first time this information has come out.” In addition to all of the other bad effects marijuana can have on teens – increased cancer risk is now added to the pile.

Parents, if you suspect your teen is using drugs, here’s yet another reason (or two) to get them drug tested and find out for certain.

Marijuana: What parents need to know

Hey parents – good news! We found an awesome resource for you. It’s a pamphlet from National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance titled “Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know.” It contains great info if you’re concerned about your teens and marijuana use.

Download it here!

marijuana-plantFacts about Marijuana

Marijuana is the #1 drug used in this country, even among teens. And although there’s a wave of synthetic drugs going around, most teens are still using and experimenting with the traditional form of marijuana. Although many ballot measures may lead you to believe it’s harmless, or “natural” if you will, studies show its detrimental effects on adults and teens alike. This highly addictive drug can have some major consequences.

The pamphlet includes all kinds of info about marijuana like:  nicknames of marijuana; how it is grown and used; impacts on health and the brain; statistics of use and more.

Statistics on Marijuana

If you don’t have the time to read through the entire pamphlet, take a look at some of these facts:

  • There are stronger forms of marijuana available to adolescents today than in the 1960s. Stronger marijuana means stronger effects.
  • Research shows that nearly 50 percent of teenagers try marijuana before they graduate from high school.
  • Marijuana has adverse effects on many of the skills for driving a car. Driving while high can lead to car accidents.
  • Marijuana users may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers have, such as chronic cough and more frequent chest colds.
  • Marijuana smoking affects the brain and leads to impaired short-term memory, perception, judgment, and motor skills.

Testing for Marijuana

Testing for marijuana can still be used through a standard 5-panel urine test. Hair, fingernails and sweat may also be tested for its use. It’s important to remember, however, that this will only test for traditional marijuana. “Fake pot” is a synthetic drug and uses an alternative test.

Zombies, Cannibalism and Drugs … Oh My

Okay – bear with us. We know this is a weird story to recap, but it’s got an important message out there for all of us. We love Twitter and some of the crazy national headlines that filter through our feed once and awhile.

So, last week CNN starts posting about reports of a “zombie” and “cannibalist” coming from the Miami area. And while this typically wouldn’t garner a “click” from us – something stopped us in our tracks. “Bath salts” were also mentioned in the headline. The story goes something like this:  police arrested a man who was chewing up the face of a homeless man. His behavior was so strange, police initially suspected the man was under the influence of bath salts. However, turns out he wasn’t using bath salts … he was sticking with marijuana.


Nothing funny about this “zombie-like” man who was suspected of bath salt use.

Read more about the “zombie-like cannibalist” from Miami

Why were bath salts suspected?

What makes this story stand out to me is the initial blame of bath salts. This man’s behavior was so strange and so unexplainable, authorities assume bath salts were to blame. I’ve heard that the “bath salt high” is one of the worst out there – even up there with meth and other hard-hitting drugs. The “trip” that teens and adults experience when using bath salts is very extreme and very dangerous. It’s landed many in the ER. The lucky ones walk away without any long-lasting health effects. Bath salts are a very big deal.

Although in this case the story was that bath salts were NOT involved, it gives me even more reason to continue warning parents and teens of the dangers of all drugs … marijuana and synthetic drugs alike. The man involved happened to have marijuana in his system… I’m sure the next story down the line could involve bath salts. The bottom line? All drug use is a big deal. Get tested. Prevent use. Any form of illegal drug use is not OK and dangerous.

Need a drug test for marijuana?

Need a drug test for bath salts?