Student Drug Testing Fails To Reduce Teens’ Self-Reported Substance Use

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 23, 2011

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media alerts and legislative advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up here. To watch NORML’s weekly video summary of the week’s top stories, click here.]

    Students subjected to student drug testing programs in school are no less likely to report consuming illicit drugs, tobacco, or alcohol than their peers, according to survey data published online in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

    An international team of researchers from the United States, Israel, and Australia assessed the impact of school drug testing programs on a nationally representative sample of 943 high school students.

    Investigators reported that the imposition of such programs had no positive impact on males’ self-reported drug use. Student drug screening programs were associated with minor reductions in females’ self-reported drug history, but only among women who attended schools with ‘positive’ environments. By contrast, investigators found that the enactment of drug testing programs in ‘negative’ school environments were most likely to be associated with “harmful effects on female youth.”

    Authors reported, “[C]onsistent with previous research, students in schools that conduct drug testing do not report less substance use. … In total, the results indicate that, to the extent drug testing is effective, it is primarily for female students in schools with positive climates.”

    They concluded: “The current research expands on previous findings indicating that school drug testing does not in and of itself deter substance use. Indeed, drug testing appears to be particularly ineffective for female students in negative climate schools, which tend to have higher substance use rates and thus are in most need of effective substance prevention programs. Interventions that improve school climate may have much greater efficacy. Thus, our findings indicate that drug testing should not be undertaken as a stand-alone substance prevention effort and that improvements in school climate should be considered before implementing drug testing.”

    Previous studies assessing the impact of student drug screening programs, including a 2010 study by US Department of Education, have similarly failed to report that drug testing deterred student drug use.

    More than one-fifth of US high schools impose some form of student drug testing, according to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control.

    NORML’s fact-sheet, ‘Just Say No to Random Student Drug Testing,’ is available here.

    28 responses to “Student Drug Testing Fails To Reduce Teens’ Self-Reported Substance Use”

    1. somedood says:

      I am sure student drug testing is really only separating someones kids from someone with more influences kids class. Hence testing positive for weed will get them the worst schooling around.

    2. moldy says:

      These indications of drug testing failures makes little to no difference. The money talks here and our system will make sure those drug testing companies remain profitable regardless of positive or negative outcomes. “What about the children” only means “what about our stock holders” while people are dropping like flies from Oxy they’re more interested in the indoctrination of our youth. So schools can afford drug testing but they can’t afford to pay teachers a decent wage?

    3. Jackflash says:

      It’s all about power and control.

    4. […] NORML Blog Share and Enjoy: TAGS: Australia, NORML, United States, […]

    5. Little Gypsy says:

      Stop all student drug testing. Apply that money to teachers salaries or lowering the property tax.

    6. Calcual7ed says:

      All the more reason to regulate. We can’t be honest with others when we’re unwilling to be honest with ourselves. EDUCATE don’t INDOCTRINATE. The basic forms of life are in no way such and to treat them as so will force us into a future society that is immoral and filled with insecurity.

    7. Ray DiPasquale says:

      Drug testing is in reality a self incrimination chemical loyalty oath in which the quality of ones’ bodily fluids is based to gauge the future quality of ones’ life.
      Ray DiPasquale

    8. TheOracle says:

      No kidding. Like they’re going to be any more truthful or lie any more than they already are.

      You are ought to mend the fence with Dr. Paul Krugman in order to get him to write about legalizing marijuana in his nationally syndicated column. I mean, specifically, the way you report the arrest statistics. I might suggest that you first get Dr. Krugman to write his perspective in a short article for NORML, and post it here for feedback, or have one of your people interview him on it by email questionnaire or on the phone or in person, and then write an article summarizing it. Then after this sort of dry run, Dr. Krugman might be willing to put something in his nationally syndicated column(s).

      Remove the air of disingenuousness that some critics at worst are claiming, or lack of specificity and dumbing down of the statistics into a broad generalization as others seem to be claiming.

      I’m not getting stuck in the middle of this thing or criticizing NORML. I am a cancer survivor, and I just want to see marijuana legalized across the board for medical and recreational use.

      Read more about Nobel Prize winner Dr.Paul Krugman’s view on legalizing marijuana at the website of The Burning Platform dot com.