A review of substance abuse monitoring in a social services context: a primer for child protection workers

Can J Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Winter;17(1):e177-93. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


As drug abuse in our society escalates, child protection workers face mounting challenges in accurately assessing parental substance abuse in the interest of effective child protection. The impartial evaluation of substance use and abuse is fundamental, requiring objective and sensitive methods. A variety of biological specimens, some applicable to short-term and some to long-term monitoring, have been successful when applied to a child protection and drug abuse monitoring of caregivers. This article explores the complementary features of drug testing in urine, hair, and meconium, among other alternative matrices and discusses the practicality, basic science, and applicability of each to substance abuse monitoring in the context of child protection.

Keywords: Drug testing, hair, meconium, prenatal, toxicology, urine screen, infant, child, drug.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caregivers
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Hair / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Meconium / chemistry
  • Social Work / organization & administration
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis*