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Addiction and Substance Abuse

How can we screen for seroquel abuse?

06/27/2008

Question:

I work at a discipline alternative school grades 6-12. An alarming number of our students have been caught with Seroquel tablets they buy from other students. Is there a drug test that will screen for this drug?

Answer:

To the person who works at a discipline alternative school and is finding an alarming number of students caught with Seroquel:

The simple answer is "yes" - there's a test. However, it's expensive, and it's not done in many places. I work at a tertiary care children's hospital and our lab doesn't do this test; I'm sure most hospital labs won't be able to do this test either. Many would be able to send blood and urine to a national reference lab, and there is one in my state that can perform this test.

More importantly, the point of screening is to find which person has the disease or problem, among a population at risk for the disease or problem. Apparently children attending your discipline alternative school constitute a population at risk for the problem.

There are several ways to screen for it. Among these, just asking the students, and then checking their lockers or backpacks or pockets would be fairly efficient and highly inexpensive screening tests. Like all screening tests, even the blood and urine tests, some of the positive results will be false positives, and some of the negative results will be false negatives. Even if we had a simple blood or urine or hair or breath test to perform right in the school nurse office, we'd still have false positives and false negatives.

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Response by:

Marcel J Casavant, MD, FACEP, FACMT Marcel J Casavant, MD, FACEP, FACMT
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Pharmacy
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University