What do you need to know about Drug Screens?
- There are three (3) main types DHS uses: UAs, Hair tests, and a sweat patch. Which one they use depends on the circumstances of the case, as well as what they are trying to determine. For example, if they want to know whether you have used in the last few days, a UA (which is also cheaper) is probably the one they will go with. If they want to go back several months, they will choose a hair test (though they have to have a supervisor’s approval for this, as it is significantly more expensive). Click here (and go to page 18) for a summary of the various drug screens.
- Sometimes parents will say they haven’t used, when they have. Sometimes this is because they think they can somehow “beat” the test; sometimes it’s because they are just hoping it’s been long enough since they used that it won’t show up, and sometimes they think that if they are convincing enough, the DHS worker won’t actually test them. None of these things work. Better to be honest about it at the outset. If you lie, andtest positive, you now have two problems (instead of one): you are using and you now have no credibility.
- Sometimes parents will “confess” to using marijuana, for example, in the hopes that the DHS worker will then decide they don’t need to test (because the parent has “admitted” to marijuana). However, that rarely works, either. DHS will still likely test in order to look for other, more serious drugs.
- A positive drug screen may or may not result in a removal. If, for example, it’s recreational marijuana, not in front of the kids, and it’s the only problem (e.g., no domestic violence, no physical abuse, etc.), then DHS may choose not to remove the children, but only to offer/require services. Other drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamines, or cocaine will almost always result in a removal.
- A removal does not mean that you will never get your kids back. Child in Need of Assistance Cases (“CINAs”) are all about progress and putting families back together. You will be asked to have a substance abuse evaluation and to “follow all recommendations” of the evaluation and any subsequent therapy. There will be additional drug screens to make sure you are not using, and there may be other things DHS asks you to do, such as mental health therapy. If you significantly comply with DHS’ requests, there typically is no reason you shouldn’t get your kids back.
- While you are working on your substance use disorder, mental health, etc., you will usually be allowed parenting time (f/k/a visits) with your kids. These usually start off fully and professionally supervised, and do not include overnights. As the case progresses, if you are doing what you need to do, parenting time should increase in quantity, and decrease in supervision. There may be a relative who can supervise in addition to an in-home worker. And it should move from fully supervised to semi-supervised (the in-home worker will drop in, but is not there the entire time), and finally to unsupervised and overnights.