Physical Problems

Drug Testing Kits

Drug Testing

Parents may want to include drug testing kits as part of a family’s drug use prevention efforts, though parents shouldn’t rely on home drug tests alone to detect or prevent drug use, and many doctors recommend against home testing. Parents should learn about drug testing kits to decide if they are right for their family and situation.

Home drug testing kits generally involve taking a sample from the person and either using a test stick that gives a quick response or sending the sample to a lab that will process the test and return an answer. These types of tests are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. The tests that are sent to labs are kept confidential and may be ready in just a few days. These types of tests are usually very reliable. When using the types of tests that give immediate results, any positive results should be confirmed by a doctor or a lab.

Home drug testing kits can be purchased online or sometimes in local stores. When buying drug testing kits online, make sure that you are purchasing from a reliable company, such as one recommended by your local doctor or law enforcement agency. Most multiple-drug tests cost around $10 each, depending on the number and types of drugs tested for, and they are often sold in sets.

The samples that may be used for drug testing can include:

  • Urine
  • Saliva
  • Sweat
  • Hair

The collection methods vary. Urine is usually collected in a cup and then a stick is dipped in the sample, similar to a home pregnancy test. A patch placed on the skin may be used to gather sweat. Swabs can be used to collect saliva to be sent to a lab. Hair samples are usually collected directly from the person and sent for analysis.

Most of these methods can only tell parents if teen have been using drugs in the past few hours or days. Hair can potentially tell about drug use for up to one or more months prior to the test. It is also less invasive. The use of hair is less well-studied, however, and things like the texture and color of hair, as well as chemicals like dyes that have been used on it, may be able to affect the test results.

Drug tests can screen for a number of drugs, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • PCP
  • Steroids
  • MDMA
  • GHB

Most drug tests only look for certain drugs, not for every drug a teen may be using. Alcohol is generally only detectable when the teen still has it in their system. There are some drugs that teens use that drug tests may not look for, such as some prescription drugs that teens abuse. This is one of the reasons that parents should not rely on drug tests alone to combat drug use in teens.

Another reason to be cautious about relying on drug testing kits is that some tests can be tricked. Most of the methods teens use to try to trick drug tests are not very effective, and some drug tests even detect substances that indicate that teens are trying to trick the tests. Still, parents should be aware that drug tests, though designed to be very reliable, are not foolproof. Also, tests may occasionally give a false positive. This is why positive tests should always be confirmed by a doctor or another source.

Parents may be tempted to drug test teens secretly, such as by taking a hair sample, but this is not usually recommended. Hair samples gathered secretly may be old, and may even belong to another person, such as if a friend used a teen’s hairbrush or someone at school was close enough to get a hair on their clothing. Also, testing in secret eliminates the potential of using drug testing to deter teens from trying drugs. It also may make it harder for parents to help teens if they find that they are using drugs, since the teens will lose trust in their parents and won’t be able to talk to them about their problem.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages involuntary or secret drug testing of young people because there is not enough evidence that home drug testing is useful in combating drug use. Drug testing is not always effective at detecting drugs, and may encourage teens to use drugs that less easily detected, including alcohol. Also, involuntary or secret drug testing may destroy family relationships and do other harm to teens.

If parents are concerned that their teens may be doing drugs but don’t want to use a home drug test, they can take their child to a doctor for drug testing. This also has the advantage of including medical advice and other types of drug and health screening along with the drug test.

If parents decide to use home drug testing, it should not be used to punish teens for drug use. Instead, it should be used to find teens who are using drugs and get them help. Random drug testing may be able to help to deter drug use, and may be able to catch teens who have a drug problem. Drug testing alone, however, is not an effective way to prevent teens from using drugs. The best things parents can do to help their teens are:

  • Talk to teens about why they shouldn’t use any types of drugs and express their love and concern for them
  • Monitor the teens’ behavior
  • Set clear rules against using drugs and enforce reasonable consequences if the rules are broken

Teens who have a drug use problem need counseling and perhaps medical intervention to help them deal with their problem and overcome any addictions that they have. Parents can find counselors or drug recovery programs through their doctor or local health department. Many programs are available for no or low cost to those who cannot pay for medical services.

Drug Testing Kit Sources:
Dr. D. Bruce Burlington, US Food and Drug Administration, News and Events, [Over-the-counter Test Kits for Drugs of Abuse” [online]
National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Testing in Schools” [online]
American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics Journal, Policy Statement, “Testing for Drugs of Abuse in Children and Adolescents: Addendum – Testing in Schools and Home” [online]

Boarding Schools

Christian Boarding Schools

Introduction to Christian Boarding Schools

Many Christian boarding schools are simply college preparatory private residential schools with a faith affiliation. They may provide a classical education, adding Latin and Bible studies to the list of core classes, and they often serve the high school grades (9–12) or middle school and high school (7–12). Christian boarding schools with a college preparatory bent have many denominations, including the following:

• Baptist
• Calvinist
• Eastern Orthodox
• Episcopal,
• Free Methodist
• Moravian
• Non-denominational
• Presbyterian
• Roman Catholic (including spiritualities linked to specific orders such as Augustinian and Dominican)
• Seventh Day Adventist
• Society of Friends/Quaker
• United Methodist

In Canada, you can find Anglican schools.

Various Types of Christian Boarding Schools

Christian boarding schools come in a number of different types. While some people may think of Christian boarding schools as college prep schools, with an emphasis on academics and faith, while there are many such schools, there are other possibilities.

One of the other types of Christian boarding school is the Christian military academy. Many of the US military boarding schools have a faith affiliation, though this is not always clear from their names. Many are non-denominational, while some are explicitly Episcopalian, Methodist, or Presbyterian.

There are also Christian therapeutic boarding schools, designed to help teens with a variety of issues in a therapeutic setting that is overtly Christian as part of its philosophy. If a child has grown up in a faith-filled environment and/or takes his or her faith seriously, choosing a faith-linked program can help support the child when he or she needs help. As with Christian college preparatory schools and Christian military schools, Christian therapeutic boarding schools may have a particular sect affiliation—for example, Evangel House Christian Academy is affiliated with the Assemblies of God—though many are non-denominational.

Choosing a Christian Boarding School

The type of Christian boarding school that might be helpful to a particular student will depend greatly on what kind of help is needed. For example, if the student was born outside of the United States and needs ESL support, this can be provided in a variety of Christian academic settings, including Randolph-Macon Academy, a military academy that do not have any therapeutic element. A child with an eating disorder, however, may require a therapeutic setting with a specialty in that particular issue, and the non-denominational Christian Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating Disorders might be an appropriate placement. For a defiant teen, parents should look not at a military academy, but at a therapeutic school with that focus, because military academies—Christian and otherwise—are not accredited for nor licensed to provide therapeutic treatment, but rather focus on academic excellence and leadership skills.

Because not every Christian boarding school is clearly identifiable by its name, it is useful to avoid assumptions and/or to use sources, such as accrediting agencies, The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), and Boarding School Review to help

Boarding Schools

Boarding Schools For Girls

Boarding schools for girls can be either all-girls boarding schools or coeducational boarding schools. This article reviews boarding school basics, the pros and cons of boarding schools for girls, and how to find a boarding school for your daughter.

What Is a Boarding School for Girls?

Boarding schools come in many shapes and sizes, some of which may be surprising to you. While many people are well aware of private boarding schools, did you know that there are public boarding schools? Public boarding schools were first established in the nineteenth century to serve particular populations, including orphans from the Civil War and young people who were hard-of-hearing, deaf, had low-vision, or were blind. In the twentieth century, a spate of public boarding schools for gifted and talented students opened, many having a focus in science, math, and/or the arts. The charter schools known as SEED (Schools for Educational Evolution and Development) are also public boarding schools.

Private boarding schools, too, are of many different types. There are stateside boarding schools and international boarding schools, college preparatory schools, military academies, sports-focused boarding schools, subject-area-focused boarding schools, and therapeutic boarding schools, and any of these may be all-girls or coeducational. There are also 5-day boarding schools and 7-day boarding schools, and one boarding school (Think GLOBAL) that holds classes in a different country every trimester, so that by the time students graduate high school, they have lived in 12 countries. Aside from therapeutic boarding schools, which aim to assist a student with problems or issues while keeping up academics, all of these types of boarding schools aim to provide an elite level of academics, qualifying their students for acceptance into the top colleges and universities.

Pros and Cons of Boarding Schools for Girls

Boarding schools for girls can provide a top-quality education for a girl who is academically gifted and ready to move out of her family home and accept the responsibilities and discipline of making her own way. Young women who lack discipline, are struggling academically, or are experiencing other social or emotional issues may be assisted by a therapeutic boarding school, or one of the other types of boarding schools only if it is well-equipped to support her. Shy, private girls who need time to themselves or who prefer to live at home are likely to find boarding school a challenge, if not an impediment.

Finding a Boarding School for Your Daughter

Your state’s student assistance corporation or the guidance office of your daughter’s current school may be able to provide catalogs and search materials to start you off. If you are doing an Internet search, try these sites:

-The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) lists boarding school networks, which often provide a searchable school directory, here:
-Boarding School Review has a search tool that lets you use some well-conceived filters to narrow your search here:
-National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) provides a search for licensed and accredited therapeutic schools and programs here:

Boarding Schools

Boarding School For Boys

Boarding schools for boys can be either all-boys boarding schools or coeducational boarding schools. This article reviews the basics of boarding schools for boys, including the pros and cons and how to find a boarding school for your son.

What Is a Boarding School for Boys?

The boarding schools for boys that most people are familiar with are the boys-only and co-educational schools generally called college preparatory schools (or college prep schools) and military academies. These schools have a long tradition of educating academically gifted students and helping ensure them a chance to go to the most highly-regarded colleges and universities through the employment of highly-qualified staff, maintaining small class sizes, providing the opportunity to participate in elite-level sports training and competition in well-appointed facilities.

Public boarding schools, present in the United States since the late nineteenth century, are less well-known. Originally organized to educate children orphaned by the Civil War or experiencing difficulty with hearing or sight, public boarding schools in the twentieth century made a move to provide top-level education to public school students with gifts in the areas of science, mathematics, and the arts.

Other types of boarding schools for boys include schools in which academic focus shares pride of place with focus on participating in a particular sport, for example, ski racing, on an elite level, as well as private boarding schools with a subject area focus-whether science and math, the arts, or sustainability-and boarding schools for boys that combine an academic program with a therapeutic program designed to assist and treat with problems ranging from learning disabilities to mood disorders to substance abuse to destructive, self-destructive, or defiant behaviors.

Pros and Cons of Boarding Schools for Boys

Academically-focused boarding schools for boys can provide a fine education and promote acceptance at a top college or university for a boy who is very good in school, self-disciplined, and prepared for independence and the responsibilities of leading his life away from his family. Young men who are troubled or struggling would not do well in these settings, including the military boarding schools, which are-overall-not designed for the student having academic or other difficulties. Such students may, however, benefit a great deal from a well-chosen, licensed and accredited therapeutic boarding school setting.

Finding a Boarding School for Your Son

The student assistance corporation in your state or the guidance department of your son’s current school may be able to provide information and assistance in helping you seek out a boarding school for your son. If you are searching on the Web, these sites may be helpful:

-The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) lists boarding school networks, which often provide a searchable school directory, here:
-Boarding School Review has a search tool that lets you use some well-conceived filters to narrow your search here:
-National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) provides a search for licensed and accredited therapeutic schools and programs here:

Residential Treatment Centers

Treatment Center Basics

Treatment center for teens has both a general and a specific meaning. Learn more about the meaning of treatment center for teens and what kinds of services it can provide by reading this article.

The Two Meanings of Treatment Center for Teens

People use the term treatment center for teens in a loose and generic way for any larger staffed facility, exclusively for teens, that teens may go to in order to receive therapy or medical attention. In other words, it is simply a place where teens, and only teens, receive some sort of treatment.

In the term residential treatment center for teens, however, a more specific meaning is evoked. In the technical language that describes places in which teens may receive therapies, counseling, and treatment as residential clients, a residential treatment center is distinct from other types of facilities, like small residential programs, wilderness programs, outdoor therapeutic programs, emotional growth boarding schools, personal growth boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, and transitional living centers. As distinct from these, a residential treatment center for teens refers to a place with a higher degree of medical treatment available. While not a hospital, a residential treatment center will have staff responsible for managing medication and monitoring medical conditions. Unlike the other types of teen residential programs, residential treatment centers for teens are equipped to handle teens with more serious behavioral and psychological issues.

This does not mean that all treatment centers for teens are the same. Some focus on maintaining a small, intimate, family-style setting; others employ a wilderness program; some focus on eating disorders. All may be boys only, girls only, or coeducational, and coeducational facilities may work with boys and girls together, or have separate campuses. Treatment centers also differ in their locations/settings; though many tend to be rural and/or natural, some are located on a ranch, for example, while Tamarack Center, for example, while in a quiet setting, is minutes from both downtown Spokane and Spokane International Airport.

According to the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), these programs are likely to have been accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC), formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

Finding a Treatment Center for Teens

NATSAP and TJC are both good starting points for locating treatment centers for teens.

-At the NATSAP site, go to the search facility and in the drop-down menu for ‘Program Type,’ select ‘Residential Treatment Center.’ Enter any other criteria you would like to use to filter, such as an age range, a particular state, or choice of gender (Girls Only, Boys Only, or Coeducational), or leave all these as set to view the full list of over 180 NATSAP member organizations in this category.

-At the TJC site, go to the search tool and search by the name of the organization you want to check, ZIP code, state, or city to begin your search.


Boarding Schools

Boarding School Basics

Boarding schools for troubled teens have a dual mission: to educate teens while assisting them with whatever’s troubling them through counseling, therapy, and other means. This article explains more about therapeutic boarding schools.

Basics of Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens

Boarding schools for troubled teens may go by several names: emotional growth boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, or personal development boarding schools, for example. Teens who attend these schools receive treatment integrated with education, so the treatment program, education program, healthcare staff, and educators should all be licensed and/or accredited by state, regional, or national and reputable organizations. In some cases, the boarding school may be authorized to grant a high school diploma.

Boarding schools for troubled teens may be coeducational, all-boys, or all-girls. Some coeducational boarding schools have separate campuses for boys and girls. All such boarding schools have very specific designations for the ages they treat. Some treat preadolescents, as well as adolescents; some treat only a specific subsection of teenagers (e.g., 14 to 18); some have a separate young adult program that accepts young people into their twenties; and some require a specific age upon admission/enrollment.

Teens enrolled in one of these facilities may be treated to a wide variety of problems. These include poor school performance, learning disabilities, issues with social relationships, family problems, physical disabilities, and emotional and behavioral issues. Various boarding schools for troubled teens practice different treatment protocols based on different philosophies. Treatment at a boarding school for troubled teens may last from one to two years.

Because different program philosophies and approaches may be better suited to different individuals and because the treatment is often of such long duration, it is essential to the outcome that a good match be made between the teen and the boarding school. The programs make headway provide different guidelines for living (12-Step, Christian, secular community responsibility) and involve teens in widely different activities while striving to meet their goals. Some have an extensive array of sports and intramural opportunities, while some claim to have elite-level academic programs.

For example, New Leaf Academy of Oregon, a girls-only program for girls who must be 10 through 14 when they enroll, involves a 4-H connection and engages each of the girls in caring for a bunny and showing it at the local county fair. The In Balance Ranch Academy, on the other hand, offers 12-Step based therapy to boys 13 to 17.5 years in a ranch setting where a college preparatory curriculum is combined with equine-assisted therapy, a wilderness program, experiential working, and job training. Wellspring Academy, a specialty coeducational boarding academy for teens aged 13 to 18 who struggle with weight issues, uses diet and activity management and cognitive and to help students with weight loss while also providing an accelerated academic program. Clearly these programs are not interchangeable and their suitability for a particular child must be considered.


Residential Treatment Centers

Finding a Residential Treatment Center

The term “Residential Treatment Centers” covers a wide variety of places that people go to and stay at while receiving therapeutic treatment for some condition or issue. In the case of teens, they may also receive schooling. This article explains more.

What Is a Residential Treatment Center for Teens?

Residential Treatment Centers has two definitions. In one case, it is a very broad term and covers a variety of institutions at which teens may reside while receiving treatment. Those that treat teens often limit their population to that age group or-if they treat multiple age groups-separate the teens from younger and/or older clients. But the specific use of the term Residential Treatment Center is more specific.

Places where teens can go and reside while being treated include emotional growth and therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness programs and outdoor therapeutic programs, and small residential programs. Residential Treatment Centers is another type of treatment, a category along with the five just named. Each has its special focus. The mission of residential treatment centers is to treat teens with psychological and behavior issues that are serious, in a highly structured environment where both medication management and monitoring by health care professionals is available. Individual and group therapy are available, and recreation and education are provided as well. It is desirable that they be accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC), previously known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) or other, similar organizations.

Types of Residential Treatment Centers for Teens

Even though they have a similar purpose, Residential Treatment Centers for teens can have distinct admissions criteria and be guided by different therapeutic approaches. For example, Gray Wolf Ranch, a boys-only facility for young men aged 14 to 25, includes a day school program and provides transitional living for young men who are in the early stages of recovery from addiction. Its approach is based on the 12-Step principles and philosophy. Turn-About Ranch, on the other hand, is a coeducational program for teens 13 to 17 having issues with defiance, and enlists them in running a working ranch with an approach based on Christian values.

Pros and Cons of Residential Treatment Centers for Teens

The key to a successful residential treatment experience for a teen is a) only considering and choosing licensed and certified centers with an exemplary history to ensure that your teen is safe and well cared for and b) making a good match between the teen and the treatment facility and their approach. Teens with issues that the RTC is not equipped to deal may have less successful treatment experiences. Different treatment centers either welcome or prohibit family contact, and either approach may or may not be suitable. If there are triggers, temptations, or other issues in the teens environment, school, or home life, if these are not addressed along with the teen’s individual issues, even the best program may seem to be unsuccessful.

Finding Residential Treatment Centers for Teens

The Joint Commission offers a search for programs that it licenses and/or certifies here:

The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs both includes a search function and also lists the accrediting and/or licensing agencies and the professional affiliations for each school, which gives other points to begin a search.