My 16 year old son is on drugs. Is there a test that will tell me what's wrong
with him, and what to do about it?
Psychological assessments can help identify the problem, but it is only part of the
My oldest son went to psychologist a few years ago when he was having problems in school
with his studies. After half a day of testing, he was told that he was of above average
intelligence, and that there was nothing wrong with him. This was totally unsatisfactory
and did nothing to help the problem. Now, my youngest is having similar problems in school-and
worse-and I want to know what testing is needed to help him. He appears to be on drugs, he's
angry all the time, and isolates himself in his room. Please help me.
Several methods are available for psychological assessment. One method involves exploring the
patient's background using questions posed to the parents about themselves and their child, to
arrive at a psychosocial composite. Another method involves administering psychological tests to
Psychological testing can be effective if you make certain of the purpose and the reason for the test
in advance. For example, an IQ test will determine an individual's level of IQ and intellectual
strengths and weaknesses. This can be helpful in designing a course of study, and in the choice
of a career.
An EQ (emotional quotient) test may be helpful in exploring an individual's emotional makeup and
issues, while isolating an area for therapy, such as personal relationships, coping skills,
impulse control, etc.
In general, students from grade school to university can benefit from psychological assessment and
testing with a licensed specialist, who can identify emotional problem areas (depression, anxiety,
rage, inferiority complexes, low self-esteem, etc.); brain dysfunction and mental strengths (visual
and oral memory, attention deficits, IQ, etc.); difficulties in family relationships; and academic
areas in need of development.
The tests may identify a child with clear symptoms and diagnosis, another with no symptoms or apparent
problems, and yet another with clear symptoms but no certain diagnosis. Often parents bring their
child in for testing with a severe problem, one that is quite advanced, expecting the tests alone to
resolve the issue-without treatment. This is unrealistic. It took a long time to develop the
child's problems-they are not going to disappear simply by identifying them. That's only the beginning.
Some model kids with no apparent problems can be revealed through testing to have underlying issues
that are happily discovered in time to make amends; or the tests can be used to uncover a talent or
a new career direction not previously considered.
Often kids who are depressed or having a difficult time with their studies can gain insight and
direction from the tests, and go on to get appropriate therapy, or tutoring, as may be needed.
Changing one's life requires more than testing-often the concerted efforts of parents, therapists,
guidance counselors, teachers, and ministers will be required.
As for your son, it would appear from your suspicions about his drug use that he is already in
serious trouble. Testing alone will do little for him at this stage. First get him to a counselor
to ascertain the level of drug use, then take measures to stop him, whether it involves grounding,
rigid scheduling, restricting his friends, etc. Next, get him into therapy for his underlying
problems. Once beyond this emergency stage, when he is sober and clean and back on course, this
is the time to get testing to help him re-direct his life for the better. Keep faith in him, and
prepare yourself for the hard work and emotional demands of helping him turn his life around.