For several months, in upstate New York, the village of Phoenix has been distributing drug testing kits to parents whose children attend John C. Bridlebough High School after dealing with prescription drug abuse problems.
Phoenix village police chief Rod Carr said in several cases kids were taking prescription drugs right out of their parent's medicine cabinets and distributed them to fellow students.
In one case, Carr said, a high-school student was selling pills for $3 each. Carr said police found the drugs in the student's locker. In May, Carr said a 15-year-old girl from Phoenix was hospitalized for seizures after buying and taking hydrocodone, an analgesic and cough supressant similar to codeine but with effects similar to morphine, in school.
The incident pushed the village government to purchase drug testing kits of their own. Parents can pick up the kits free of charge, and free of questions, from a local pharmacy called Medicine Place. More than 125 kits have been distributed since then.
"The idea of the program is to get parents to talk to their kids about the inherent dangers of using prescription drugs," said Medicine Place pharmacist David Dingman. "Whether it's a controlled substance or not, there's a reason that these things are prescription drugs. There's potential harm to do there."
Carr asked the Medicine Place if they would distribute the kits; he thought that the idea of parents going to the police station would make them think twice about taking part in the program.
"We won't have anyone walking in," Carr said. "They're all going to be afraid that we're taking down names, and we'll be knocking on their doors."
The kits being distributed in Phoenix test for Oxycontin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. Dingman said they're easy to use. After collecting a urine sample, a litmus test is placed on top of the container.
"Though a hole," Dingman said, "it'll give you a positive or negative test," as colors react to the presence of certain drugs. The entire process takes about 10 minutes.
If the test results show a positive reading, the drug kit refers parents to a lab for sample testing, if the signs point to these drugs in their kids' systems.
Dingman said a company in Tampa, Fla., had read about Phoenix's program on the Internet, and offered to give 30 kits to the village. They have since received them, and are continuing to distribute them.
Doug Chinchar, who created the kits, decided to market the KNOW NO Drug Test after working as a high-school women's volleyball coach, where he heard his team discussing drugs and getting high.
"Drugs kill the first time," Chinchar said. "I got tired of hearing about this kid dying, and that kid dying, and parents sobbing about things they never thought their kids would do."
So he designed his kit for all families to start talking about narcotic and prescription drug abuse.
"We don't promote drug testing, but we promote conversation," Chinchar said. He asks parents to "use it as a teaching tool."