- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Starting next Monday, parents in Cabell, Kanawha and Putnam counties will have access to free drug testing kits for their children through the pilot program “Give Me a Reason.”

While some parents may be tempted to run home and test their children for drugs, the program leaders hope the kits will be used as a preventative measure and talking point for parents.

Michelle Perdue, project coordinator for the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership, said through their research with focus groups of students in Cabell County high schools and middle schools, they found students wished their parents would have talked to them openly about drugs. Students also said they wished they would have had that information long before they entered middle school.

Perdue said the best way for parents to talk to their child about drugs is openly and honestly without any form of judgment.

The drug testing packets include information sheets that serve as a guide for parents to use for having open conversations with their children about saying no to drugs.

“Those will be able to be a perfect tool for students and their parents to sit down and have those conversations so they are prepared when facing those decisions,” Perdue said. “Those situations are going to be faced when their parents aren’t around, so you hope your kid is as confident as possible when saying no.”

The drug testing kit costs about $45 in stores, but parents in the three pilot counties can obtain the kits for free. It’s a saliva scan that will disclose results in a few minutes, giving parents a near instantaneous result without a lab.

The test checks for amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, opiates, oxycodone, phencyclidine and marijuana.

Kristi Justice, executive director of Kanawha Communities that Care, said she hopes the drug testing kits will be similar to a household’s fire safety plan, where households have a fire extinguisher in the home but hope they never have to use it.

The program name “Give Me a Reason” can mean two different things. For parents, it could be a reason to talk to their kids about drugs; for adolescents, it can serve as encouragement to reject drug use.

“If a young person is at a party or out with friends and feels that peer pressure to partake in drugs, then they can say, ‘No, I can’t do that. My parents drug test,’” Justice said.

While Perdue also said the tests should be more of a talking point than anything, she said each parent knows their child and should test them if they feel they might be using drugs.

If a child’s test returns positive, there is a help guide in the kit that reminds parents to remain calm and contact the phone number provided, which will connect parents to a local resource at all hours.

“Don’t panic, but act right away and let your child know you’re going to be there for them and find a solution that works for your family, because every family is different,” Perdue said.

Each distributor has to go through a one-hour training process to be able to distribute the drug testing kits. Parents will also have to go through a short training session in order to receive the kit.

In Kanawha County, drug testing kits will be distributed at Kanawha Communities That Care in the Elkview community building, Kanawha Charleston Health Department, Hansford Center in St. Albans, Blessed Sacrament Roman Church in South Charleston, Partnership for African American Churches in Dunbar, Kanawha County Schools’ high school and middle school clinics, the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority and the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department.

According to Bill O’Dell, project director of the Putnam Wellness Coalition, the Putnam County Health Department, the Putnam Youth Reporting Center, the Putnam Wellness Coalition, Putnam County Schools and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office all will have trained individuals to distribute the kits.

For Cabell County, packets will be distributed at United Way of the River Cities on Madison Avenue and the Cabell Huntington Health Department on Seventh Avenue.

Reach Laura Haight at [email protected] or 304-348-4872.


(c)2015 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.)

Visit The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.) at www.wvgazette.com

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