Study: Student Drug Testing Programs Linked To Spikes In ‘Hard’ Drug Use

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 16, 2013

    Schools that institute student drug testing programs are likely to experience a rise in students’ consumption of ‘hard’ drugs, according to observational trial data published this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

    Researchers at the University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research analyzed the impact of student drug testing programs in some 250,000 high-school and middle-school students over a 14 year period. Investigators reported that random drug testing programs of the student body and programs specifically targeting student athletes were associated with “moderately lower marijuana use,” but cautioned that drug testing programs overall were “associated with increased use of illicit drugs other than marijuana.”

    An estimated 14 percent of middle school students and 28 per cent of US high school students are now subject to some form of drug testing.

    Urinalysis, the most common form of student drug testing, screens for the presence of inert drug metabolites (breakdown products), not the actual parent drug. Because marijuana’s primary metabolite, carboxy-THC, is fat soluble, it may be present in urine for days, weeks, or in some cases even months after past use. By contrast, most other illicit drug metabolites are water soluble and will exit the body within a matter of hours. Authors of the study speculated that students subjected to drug screens were switching from cannabis to other illicit drugs which possessed shorter detection times.

    “Random SDT (student drug testing) among the general high school student population, as well as middle and high school subgroups targeted for testing, was associated with moderately lower marijuana use; however, most forms of testing were associated with moderately higher use of other illicit drugs, particularly in high school,” the authors concluded. “These findings raise the question of whether SDT is worth this apparent tradeoff.”

    Commenting on the findings, the study’s lead author affirmed, “It is clear that drug testing is not providing the solution for substance-use prevention that its advocates claim.”

    Previous assessments of student drug testing programs have reported that those subjected to such programs are no less likely to report consuming illicit drugs, tobacco, or alcohol than their peers.

    The abstract of the study, “Middle and High School Drug Testing and Student Illicit Drug Use: A National Study 1998–2011,” is available online here.

    26 Responses to “Study: Student Drug Testing Programs Linked To Spikes In ‘Hard’ Drug Use”

    1. Demonhype says:

      “Are drug tests reliable?
      No. The drug screens used by most companies are not reliable. These tests yield false positive results at least 10 percent, and possibly as much as 30 percent, of the time. Experts concede that the tests are unreliable. At a recent conference, 120 forensic scientists, including some who worked for manufacturers of drug tests, were asked, “Is there anybody who would submit urine for drug testing if his career, reputation, freedom or livelihood depended on it?” Not a single hand was raised. ”

      -ACLU Briefing

      Found in the ‘lectric Law files, listed on the first post in the archive of my anti-drug war blog that has a focus on drug testing in particular, enddrugtesting.blogspot.com. I’ve been compiling a list of online resources to help people make others aware of this Drug War profiteering scam. The time is ripe now, because once MJ is legalized they’ll lose 98% of their numbers.

      If anyone has any pro-legalization, anti-drug war and especially anti-drug testing sentiments–news, personal stories or observations, etc–I’m willing to post them.

      @xboxrrod: You’re absolutely right, and the first thing that I heard came up on that subject in CO was “can an employer fire someone for testing positive for MJ now?” The answer was “yes, because the federal law still declares it to be a ‘dangerous narcotic’ and illegal”. That’s the only reason. And I’ve been seeing evidence that medical mj legalization is at least undermining drug testing in those states–unfortunately they’ve been making up their lost ill-gotten dollars by ramping it up in hellholes like Ohio that are either only decriminalized or worse. Legalization has a momentum they can no longer stop now, medical marijuana is hitting the halfway point in the states, and once we have enough states on board….well, the federal law is not going to last for long, and they know it, and that is the ONLY thing still saving the scam drug testing industry. It’s the last thread on which they hang, just waiting for the fall. I have no sympathy for them whatsoever.

    2. Xboxrrod says:

      What about employee drug testing, that shit needs to be stopped ASAP , ban urine testing , marijuana is so common now. It’s rediculus that marijuana is legal here in WA and CO, still hard to get a job, the people that came up with the bill should of thought that through.

    3. bud says:

      It’s time to dismantle this system of corporate domination over our bodies. First we need weed legal in as many places / states as possible. This will help the population to start to understand what the masters intend. The courts are already siding with patients in some states. MI courts just recently gave MMJ patients the right to drive with THC/Coo in their systems stating that they need to show impairment before they can be arrested.

    4. J. Krixx says:

      Ya’ll dont remember that America is a corperation? This is where people from all over the world come to work. but now jobs are being sent overseas, so… i dunno anymore

      out with numb dumb, in with the genius crew

    5. Voice of the Resistance says:

      Guilt and fear are the tools of an extortionist.

    6. Commenter420 says:

      I think the commenters here are hitting the key point that this article fails to have written in words. Is there any reason why? The title should read “Children choosing harder drugs in an attempt to beat drug test detection”..

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