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Father Whose Teen Overdosed Pushes for CT Drug Test Law

Stamford resident Jim Cruz, the father of a child who died of an overdose days after a testing lab refused to take a hair sample, testifies in favor of a law to make such tests easier to get.

Patch file photo: Brookfield, WI Patch
Patch file photo: Brookfield, WI Patch

Editor's note: This report is based on a press release from state Sen. Carlo Leone's office:

Drug abuse can place a great strain on any affected family, especially when a parent must confront their teenage child about suspected, yet unconfirmed drug use.

Stamford resident Jim Cruz attempted to secure a hair follicle drug test for his 17 year-old son Kyle when his rapidly and dramatically changed behavior raised family suspicions. Yet despite having a doctor’s authorization, they were repeatedly turned away from a testing facility, and Kyle committed suicide before he could find the help he needed.

On Monday State Sen. Carlo Leone (D-Stamford) joined Cruz to testify before the state legislature’s Judiciary Committee in favor of proposed legislation that would help such parents to secure drug tests for their struggling children.

“Having a child fall into drug abuse is a nightmare come true for any parent. When a family looks to get a drug test and help for their teen, they need the way to be cleared for them, without bureaucratic obstacles. That’s the opposite of what the Cruz family encountered, so we must act to prevent similar tragedies in the future,” Leone said. “I would like to thank Jim Cruz for sharing his difficult personal story with the public, so others may be spared the same tragic experience.”

Senate Bill 464 would provide that under the law, an order from a licensed physician, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse would be sufficient to authorize a hair follicle drug test. 

Cruz sought such a test for his son Kyle Cruz when began exhibiting disturbing behavior at the age of 17. An accomplished athlete of multiple sports and a diligent student for his entire life, Kyle suddenly became highly argumentative and began acting irrationally over a period of just a few short months.

His family came to suspect drug use, first marijuana but eventually prescription pills, MDMA, ecstasy, and an ADHD drug called Vyvanse. The family decided to have Kyle drug tested to confirm their suspicions and get him help, and settled on a hair follicle drug test for its ability to detect drug use over a period of 30-90 days. Alternative urine tests may only detect drug use within a 12-72 hour period.

Yet multiple obstacles arose as the family sought out this test, and they were repeatedly turned away from a hair follicle test provider, despite having a doctor’s authorization for the test.

In written testimony offered to the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Jim Cruz described his difficult struggle to secure a drug test for his son:

When we arrived we were told that the hair follicle drug test couldn’t be administered because we didn’t have the paper work from his doctor. So we went to the doctor’s office and they had filled out the form and faxed it to the testing office. We arrived back to the test facility and were denied again and told it was the wrong requisition form even though it was signed by the doctor. We were then informed that they couldn’t do this test because it wasn’t employment related.

Cruz continued, “Four days after our failed attempt I came home to find my son and he did not make it.”

Senate Bill 464 now awaits action before the Judiciary Committee.

Correction: The name of the medication called Vyvanse was misspelled in the original version of this article.

Anthony Powers March 26, 2014 at 02:24 PM
@ Barbara you are right and no one cares. They rather rally Washington from newtown to protest GUNS. But does anyone take the governor to task about legalizing POT?? NO one cares and it is the voters fault in this state. I am reading now that 70% of voters want POT LEGALIZED. PICK YOUR POISON VOTERS!! How about those 26 BIKE PEOPLE ride to the capital about illegal drug use. NOPE THEY HATE GUNS. Pot is OK !!
Still in Stamford March 27, 2014 at 12:46 PM
First of all, the gun debate has no place in this discussion. Kyle Cruz did not shoot himself, he hung himself. I'm not sure how a drug test would have helped this boy. He was very likely depressed, and if there was drug use, it could have been a way of self-medicating his depression. The symptoms he had could also have been signs of depression on their own without drug use, and they can't know if he had drugs in his system until they get the autopsy report back from the state, which can take months. The mental health issues of our youth are what need to be addressed. There is a huge lack of quality care and effective treatment. The high schools should be pro-active in raising suicide awareness; there have been way too many suicides in recent years.
Connecticut15 March 29, 2014 at 02:41 PM
Parents of minors even those ages 16-18 should have the right to have their children's hair follicle drug tested. Any law that prohibits the parents to do that needs to be changed. A drug test would have provided proof of drug use and/or abuse - a foundation for knowing or navigating how to try to help the child. No one can assume that this boy was depressed and that was all and therefore he may have used drugs. What if it were the other way around - drugs and the consequential abuse to his internal biochemistry that caused his acts or perhaps symptoms that mimicked or were depression. Not all drug users are depressed. These parents were looking for answers. Having concrete evidence of drug use can break apart the wall of denial, step one.
Still in Stamford April 02, 2014 at 12:45 PM
Connecticut 15, I don't disagree with you. I do think that parents should have the right to have their children tested. He could have been taking drugs without having underlying depression, but I know from personal experience that drug use often occurs because of depression and that the same symptoms of drug use are also often caused by depression. The majority of drug abusers however, don't commit suicide. He didn't overdose. He died by suicide. That is a mental health issue. So while I do agree that parents should be able to have their children tested, I also think that the mental health issues are just as important in a case like this, because both things likely were factors in this boy's death, and if so, both things need to be treated. I'm sorry if I didn't explain myself better in my first post.
Ella Jameson April 09, 2014 at 05:15 AM
If anyone is concerned that their child may be abusing drugs, check out this new tool which points out the early warning signs http://www.sobercollege.com/telltale-signs-of-drug-use/

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