As prescription drug abuse rises among teens in New Jersey, more parents are considering home drug testing kits for their children.

But are they really effective?

Home drug testing kits have become popular in recent years as parents try to determine if their kids are using drugs and also as a preventive measure to scare their kids.

“They are not as reliable as the boxes or the labels will make them out to be,” said Steve Liga, executive director of the Middlesex County chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Liga says there are other drawbacks to home drug test kits including testing for the wrong drug, false readings and time limits for testing.

“What happens is, if a parent tests their child for a drug that they think their son or daughter might be using, but its already out of their system, then their kid says, I told you I wasn’t using drugs.”

A lot of parents fail to make a plan for the outcome of the test as well, adds Liga.

“What are you going to do if your child is using drugs, punish them…talk to them…take them to the doctor, and what if they aren’t using, then you have just accused them of doing something they didn’t.”

The drug store tests, which can cost between $15 and $100 can test for a variety of drugs based on the price of the kit.

“Often times these drug tests only scan for drugs so the results must be sent into a lab for testing by a medical professional” said Liga. “The danger with using home drug testing lies with getting incorrect results. If you get a false negative, you may be assured that your child is not using drugs – when in fact they are” he added.

The bottom line, if you suspect your child is using drugs, get a professional evaluation.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics came out against home drug testing kits a few years ago and rightfully so. Its a much better idea to either use your school’s student assistance counselor, a pediatrician, a substance abuse treatment facility to have somebody talk to your kid” said Liga.