Parents can test their children's nail clippings for drugs and alcohol — new process – Express

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The kit comes from AlphaBiolabs, an accredited testing laboratory that provides DNA, COVID-19 and toxicology testing services for the public, workplaces, and the legal sector. Parents are able to collect fingernail or toenail clippings at home and post them off for analysis — with password-protected results returned via email within seven working days of the lab receiving the samples. Previously, nail-based drug and alcohol testing was only available in the UK to employers running workplace screening programs or for legal purposes, such as where drug misuse needs to be established for child protection purposes.

AlphaBiolabs director Rachel Davenport said: “Until now, parents who had suspicions about their children drinking or abusing drugs were left worrying about their safety, with no option for finding out the truth other than a urine test.
“It’s a fact that children, especially teens, can be subjected to peer pressure when it comes to drinking excessively or taking drugs, and often don’t understand the risks involved.
“Being able to test nail clippings for illicit substances can provide extra insight for parents — either helping ease their worries, or enabling them to seek the right support if the test returns a positive result.
“It can also help them start an open and honest conversation with their kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.”
Tests (left) show if kids have taken drugs (right)
The drug and alcohol test kit
To coincide with the launch of the nail testing kit, AlphaBiolabs commissioned a survey of 500 UK-based parents of children aged 9–16 about their kids’ relationship with drink and drugs.
Around a third of parents said that they were worried about their children abusing drugs or alcohol, but only half of them had directly discussed these concerns with their kids.
Moreover, one-in-four of the parents polled said that they would be willing to have their child’s nail clippings tested for signs of drugs and alcohol use if given the opportunity.
The survey was conducted by the market research agency Find Out Now.
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Teenagers drinking and taking drugs at a party
How drug metabolites accumulate in the nail
According to AlphaBiolabs, the nail analysis kit can test for signs of various drugs, including amphetamine, benzodiazepines, cocaine, cannabis, ecstasy/MDMA, heroin and other opiates, ketamine, methadone, methamphetamine, PCP and zolpidem.
Meanwhile, the alcohol test can reveal whether someone has drunk beer, spirits or wine in roughly the last six or twelve months, depending on whether finger- or toenail clippings are used, prior to sample collection.
The difference in time-scales here stems from the fact that toenails grow slower than fingernails, allowing them to capture a longer record of alcohol and drug consumption.
The drug test works by looking for the presence of the so-called metabolites that are produced by our bodies when these substances are broken down by the liver.
These metabolites are released into the bloodstream and can eventually find themselves carried into the digits — where they become trapped within the keratin fibres that make up finger- and toenails.
Alcohol testing works in a similar fashion, but focuses on a specific metabolite, ethyl glucuronide, which serves as a long-term biomarker of ethanol, the intoxicating agent in alcoholic beverages.
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Heroin 

Lines of cocaine
Ms Davenport said: “We understand that starting a conversation about suspected drink or drug abuse isn’t easy, and we know that some parents may have concerns about the trust implications of asking their child to take a drug and/or alcohol nail test. 
“Before ordering a test, we would always recommend that parents have an open and honest conversation with their child(ren) about their concerns, to get to the root cause of what might be troubling them. There are many reasons why a child may appear withdrawn or despondent that have nothing to do with taking drugs or drinking alcohol excessively. 
“When talking to your kids, it’s important to emphasise that the questions are coming from a place of care and concern for their wellbeing, rather than being angry or accusatory. 
“Whatever the circumstances, a nail test is a quick and easy option for getting the answers to your questions. A negative test result can alleviate any worries you might have about drug or alcohol misuse, and instead help you to start a conversation about what else might be troubling your child.
“A positive result means parents are armed with the information they need to seek the correct support.”

Davenport

Test kits are now available for purchase, priced at £99 for an alcohol-only test, £149 for a drug-only kit and £199 for a combined drug and alcohol test kit.
According to AlphaBiolabs, the “peace of mind” test kit is for personal information only and cannot be used for legal purposes.
Ms Davenport added: “Whether you have concerns about a child or family member using drugs or alcohol, or you just want a test for your own peace of mind, a non-invasive, at-home drug and alcohol nail test is the ideal option.”
More information on the drug and alcohol test kit can be found on the AlphaBiolabs website.
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