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. Anonymous says:

      Its bullshit kids are being tested for drugs to begin with.

    2. Anonymous says:

      It could start with simple thing’s,like;’ carbohydrates’,,and then much more-sinister–like ‘protein”and then what????

      you sick bastards,,,,left to you’re imaginations….?

    3. Ben says:

      “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.”


      No doubt.

      In some of the situations, scenarios, and life settings I have found myself – I have seen this to be as well. It is rather common knowledge, among soldiers, athletes, and persons who find themselves on probation, that marijuana METABOLITES stay in the system far longer than evidence of other drugs.

      This is because cannabis is virtually harmless, whereas meth and MDMA (ecstasy) and other drugs are akin to toxins which the body purges as rapidly as possible.

      It is another example of counter-productive machinations of our school and legal systems.
      That drive people, (who are going to do whatever anyway), away from TRACKABLE harmless, to less trackable harmful chemicals.

      Brilliant work.

      Now its time to farking fix it.

    4. Gone2PotLESSness says:

      Is this REALLY surprising???

      Metabolite-based urinalysis drug testing
      causes DECREASED usage of the relatively
      LEAST HARMFUL compound, (cannabis), but
      INCREASES consumption of the MORE DANGEROUS
      yet less-detectable / undetectable ones,
      (such as alcohol, opiates, inhalants, OTC “meds,” amphetamines, tranquilizers, “spice,” “bath salts,” synthetic “research” chemicals, anabolic steroids…).

      “Preventative” drug-testing
      creating a worse, far deadlier “problem”

      Oh, the IRONY!!!

    5. Somedood says:

      Ban the use of backpacks. That will do it. Yep.

    6. Anonymous says:

      LEAVE our kids alone you controlling bastards..

    7. Young Smoker says:

      I have been beating this drum for a long time. The problem that I continue to face is that people are less susceptible to listen to the common person with some/new controversial evidence. We Have DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)which within itself sounds like a decent program but when the word gets out about the truth of certain medicinal, spiritual, plants then Pandora’s box has been opened.. So then what you have is a group of young people feeling let astray believing very little of what your trying to promote as truth.. Why is it that we are told that cannabis is harmful but they refuse to allow any evidence that promotes cannabis and other medicinal,spiritual plants..I want evidence. The REAL truth not the story to fit the mold which suits your agenda.

    8. Galileo Galilei says:

      The days when they can spin this info to dupe Congress into increase funding yet again for their asinine, counterproductive war are numbered.

      But you all already knew that didn’t you?

    9. Former Highschool Athlete says:

      As a former h/s athlete (2009-2012) I was forced to take random drug tests. Whenever I had to submit to a urine test my anxiety increased because of the amount of pressure that the testers as well as all the other students whom are waiting for your urine sample (safe toilette syndrom.) This is absolutely ridiculous that we put pressure on our youth to test them mostly for cannabis usage. I did not partake of any herb substance until college years but wish I would have because after playing for my football team (started bothways) I would feel like absolute dookie and now I know that cannabis would have made me feel soo much better. Forget this system its time for anarchy.

    10. TLC says:

      We were talking about the idiocy of this effect in the 70’s and it’s just now being supported by statistics? Ahh, the other idiocy: making it near impossible to test theories in the first place…the stigma, you know.