Student Drug Testing Highly Prevalent but Ineffective, Says Study
On the heels of an announcement calling on drug tests for everyone from our children to our grandparents, a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs indicates more high school students than ever are exposed to drug testing programs, despite the fact that they “do far more harm than good.”
According to AlterNet, the study investigated the effects of school drug testing programs on students’ use of alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. They found the knowledge of a potential drug test had no bearing on a student’s choice.
“Consistent with previous research, results of the current study show that perceived SDT (student drug testing) is not associated with a reduction in initiation or escalation of substance use in the general student population,” the authors wrote.
This is far from the first study to analyze the ineffectiveness of drug testing programs. Some have even gone so far as to find drug testing to encourage use or lead to increases among students.
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, drug testing programs didn’t reduce the risk of drug, alcohol, or tobacco use among boys or girls. That study concluded that “drug testing should not be undertaken as a stand-alone substance prevention effort.”
Further, a study in 2007 from Oregon’s Health & Science University determined that not only did drug testing not reduce self-reported drug abuse, but that students under such drug testing programs actually reported increases in “some risk factors for future substance abuse.”
A University of Michigan study affirmed this and found that drug testing was associated with a slightly lower marijuana use rate, but was connected with an increase in the use of other illicit drugs.
Students subjected to drug testing may very well know that marijuana constitutents can remain in the urine for weeks after imbibing. But other illicit drugs—like cocaine—are water soluble and leave the body within hours. For students that want to “party” without being kicked off the football team, cocaine would seem the ironically wiser choice.
As AlterNet reports, however, all of this research suggesting the futility of drug testing hasn’t swayed school or federal officials. Some 28 percent of high-schoolers in the U.S. are subject to a drug testing policy.
Not only are these drug tests worthless in the fight against teen drug use among teens, not only could they actually increase the rate at which children are using dangerous drugs far beyond marijuana, but these seizures of evidence (through urine tests) are done without a warrant. They are executed not under the presumption of innocence and through due process guarantees spelled out in the Constitution, but under the assumption of guilt. And this criminalization of the youth could very well have effects far beyond the teenage years.