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All too often, the Court is required to consider parenting arrangements in circumstances where there are a host of drug and alcohol abuse allegations. This often results in the Court ordering alcohol and drug tests to determine the validity of such allegations and the extent of abuse (if any). In these cases, it is important for the Court, and the party requesting such testing, to know what test to request in the circumstances. There are also limitations to testing which need to be considered by the parties and the Court.
Testing of Illicit Substances
The consumption of illicit substances can be tested via a urine sample or through a hair follicle test. A urine sample will only show evidence of consumption of an illegal drug if recently consumed and such substance remains in the person’s body.
For the testing of chronic drug abuse, it may be more appropriate to request a hair follicle test. This will examine the test subject’s consumption of illicit substances over a period of time, depending on the length of the hair sample.
Limitations of Hair testing including:-
Testing of Alcohol Abuse
There are a number of blood tests which can be used to determine consumption of alcohol. A Carbohydrate-deficient Transferrin Test (“CDT”) can be ordered to determine whether a person is a chronic consumer of alcohol. People who often binge on alcohol will usually have a change in their protein levels which can be indicative of chronic consumption of alcohol. Another blood test that can be prescribed is a Gamma Glutamyl Transferase Test (“GGT”) which tests a party’s liver function. People who consume alcohol regularly, may experience liver disease. The downside of this test is that a party who does not “binge drink” may still produce results indicative of liver function issues or liver disease. This test is therefore not conclusive in respect to chronic alcohol consumption. The CDT and GGT tests are not designed to test people for complete abstinence from alcohol, but can be useful in proving whether a person is a chronic consumer of alcohol.
If complete abstinence is required, a further test known as Ethyl Glucuronide may be appropriate in determining whether a party has consumed alcohol within the past 90 hours. The downside of this test is that it requires the accused party to submit to regular testing (every 3 to 4 days) in order to ensure complete abstinence. This can be onerous and expensive for that party.
As you can see, there are a number of alcohol and drug tests which exist, all of which have limitations. Knowing what you are looking for is key to determining which test you require or wish to seek from the Court. It is also important to know the limitations of the testing so that appropriate Orders can be drafted. If you wish to discuss your family law matter and any issues in respect to drug and alcohol consumption please do not hesitate to contact one of our team members here at Armstrong Legal.
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