(Received 26 March 1997; accepted 19 May 1997)
Published Online: January
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In Nova Scotia Canada, governmental authorities expressed concern in the late 1980s about the adverse effects of drug use by parents on the welfare of their children. Since 1991, parents with a history of drug abuse may be required to submit to urine drug and alcohol testing when ordered by the Family Courts of this province. The objective of this paper is to present this drug testing program and the results of drug testing on 125 clients from 1994–1996. Urine specimens were collected in the parents' residence by a nurse and transferred directly to the laboratory by the collector or a courier. Specimens were screened by immunoassay and TLC followed by GC-MS confirmation. Results were sent directly to the social worker. In the 3,613 urine specimens analyzed, 50.2% of specimens were negative, 45.6% were positive for one or more drug/metabolite and 4.2% of specimens were dilute (creatinine <25 mg/dL). The distribution of positive results were: cannabinoids (11.5%), cocaine metabolite (5.0%), benzodiazepines (14.5%), codeine/morphine (7.1%), codeine (6.6%), diphenhydramine (2.2%) and ethyl alcohol (1.6%). Drug testing has been considered a success by these agencies since testing provides an objective indication of recent drug use and the overall prevalence of drug use in this drug abusing population has reduced from 100% to <50%.
Clinical and forensic toxicologist, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and Department of Pathology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
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