Educating Patients on In-Home Drug Testing

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In this clip, Harshav Raval, PharmD, RPh, owner of Hickory Pharmacy in East Windsor, NJ, discusses drug screening and how pharmacists can counsel these concerned parents about screening tests.

Harshav Raval, PharmD, RPh: At our pharmacy, we provide information on many different things to parents before they give their kids, or any family member, a drug test. Our pharmacy provides information regarding drug and alcohol abuse, and we work with a lot of local coalitions. We work with a lot of communities. I actually work with the local police department, as well, where they’ve created a package that allows parents and kids to find resources in the town, so if they are using, or if the test comes up positive, what are the next steps? Just testing is only half of the story. I think the other half is what you do with the results of the test. Whether they’re negative or positive is different, but because there is a question about drugs involving your child or the household, there has to be a follow-up that happens. You can’t just stop at drug testing.

I inform parents or customers to take an active role in abuse prevention many different ways. One is an example I experienced a few days ago, where a parent came in and they wanted to know if we sell the drug test kits, and what information we would be able to provide. The biggest problem is that parents think that they can’t test their kids because they think that they’ll lose the trust. We help them in that process. We provide them with material. We provide them with education regarding what kind of questions to ask, what kind of scenarios could happen, and how to avoid certain bad scenarios.

At our pharmacy, we provide many different resources for parents to take an active role in abuse prevention. We have education that we provide to the parents one-on-one, including different pamphlets, one-pagers, and postcards that have been provided by other groups within the community, which we hand out. That allows the parent to be able to seek advice from somebody else who’s an expert in this, and get their kids on the right track, so there are ways that we could help bridge that gap.

One of the pamphlets that we distribute is created by a coalition in Mercer County, New Jersey, and that coalition has more information about drug and alcohol abuse. They have education that they can provide to the parent. They have resources for the child or the person who is abusing the drugs, as well, and they make it so that it’s not like going to a police station and sitting in front of someone to explain yourself. It’s more of a conversation, or an open dialogue, that they have. Those kinds of information or resources that we can connect parents and kids with allows them to prevent using or abusing drugs in the future, because they understand the risk. They understand what’s happening. They understand that they have resources that are available to help them through the process, as well.

I don’t feel that there are many resources available for pharmacists in regard to this specific realm of drug test kits, especially the at-home kits. I believe the resources that are available are the ones that are found on the website of the company that actually makes those products. Moving forward, I think that more resources need to be provided, not just on how to use the kit, but what to do after the results are given, and after the results have been interpreted. I think there is a lot of gray area there, and that’s somewhere where we can develop different types of products or programs.

One thing that I’ve done specifically in my pharmacy is partner with a lot of coalitions and organizations in the community, as well as the local police department. I’ve met with the police chief, and we’ve created a packet that has allowed people who have been going down this path—let’s say they’re abusing drugs—with resources within the community that they can use, whether it’s parents, the child, or it’s somebody else, that provide additional resources to assist them in overcoming what they’re doing.

The recommendation that I’d give to other pharmacists regarding drug testing and other kits is simple—use it. Try it yourself. I think when you use it yourself, you get a better understanding of what the kit is and how to use it, and you can better answer some of the questions that patients have when they’re coming back in and saying, “I got this result,” or, “I got that result. I had 2 lines. I had a faint line here. What does that mean?” I think that it’ll provide a more detailed and accurate response to the patient.

One of the things that pharmacists who see students can do is actually have the students try the kit on themselves. I think that’s very important to solidify some of these concepts, especially when the kids are learning in pharmacy school and they’re going through the rotational program.

Having that experience is something that is unique, but I think it’s something that all pharmacists should do, at least at some point, and they should try different kits. Try the dollar kit and the one that’s more expensive. See if it’s easier to use, or if it’s harder to use. If the more expensive ones do provide better results, send the results in, and see what the results are that way.

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