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Addiction

06 March 2008

Parents to administer drug tests

In a move which may one day be considered in South Africa, authorities in Milan have decided to offer parents of teenagers free kits to test their children for drugs.

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In a move which may one day be considered in South Africa, authorities in Milan have decided to offer parents of teenagers free kits to test their children for drugs.

Some 35 000 families with children aged 13 - 16 are set to receive by post coupons allowing them to collect the kits from hundreds of local pharmacies, the city's centre-right administration announced.

Parents using the kit will be able to tell from urine samples whether their children make use of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines as well as marijuana and several other drugs. An accompanying letter provides toll free numbers for assistance.

"Alarming" rates of drug abuse by young people had prompted the council to provide the kit which could also serve as a "deterrent and an "instrument of dialogue" within families, Milan's city councillor responsible for health, Giampaolo Landi di Chiavenna, said. He cited research showing that four per cent of Milanese aged between 15 and 34 regularly make use of cocaine.

Drug problem on the increase
By 2009 the use of this drug in Milan - Italy's second largest city and the country's financial capital - is set to increase "by between 40 and 50 per cent," said Landi di Chiavenna, a member of the right-wing National Alliance.

But the "No to drugs - Let's talk about it in the family" initiative has been slammed by the centre-left opposition which points to what it says is the failure of a pilot project conducted last year targeting a single city district.

Of the 3 887 Milanese families handed coupons, only 249 used them to collect the drug kits, the Corriere della Sera daily reported.

"From research done in the field what emerged is that (the kit) triggered great tensions within families," opposition Democratic Party councillor Davide Corritore said.

"This operation which appears to be intended to favour pharmaceutical companies (that produce the kit) is totally inefficient," another Democratic Party councillor Marino Marilena Adamo said. – (Sapa)

March 2008

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