Passive exposure to drugs occurs when a person is in the presence of someone smoking, inhaling or manufacturing drugs or other related substances, but does not actively smoke or inhale the drug him or herself. This can occur when a child is in the presence of parents or other adults who are smoking marijuana or crack cocaine, inhaling cocaine, or manufacturing or smoking methamphetamine. This can also occur when teenagers or adults are in the presence of friends or others in social or public situations who are smoking or using drugs.
Passive exposure, especially continued passive exposure, to smoke and illicit drugs can cause serious health problems for individuals of all ages. People are exposed to drugs by inhaling either the smoke of burning substances or the fumes that others have exhaled. Studies have shown that young children in the presence of adults using methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs have tested at levels as high or higher for the substances as the adults who actively used the drugs.
Passive Exposure Testing
Testing children or teenagers for passive exposure to drugs is a valuable source of information for social workers and the legal system, parents and legal guardians. Divorced or separated parents may have their children tested if they suspect that their child’s other parent is using drugs when the child is in their custody. Parents or guardians may also seek testing for passive exposure if their child has been caught with other users and claim they did not actively use the substance but were merely present when it was in use.