The Downsides Of Random Drug Testing In Schools
According to Terry-McElrath, Yvonne M. , Patrick M. O’Malley, and Lloyd D. Johnston on The Journal of Adolescent Health, 14% of middle school and 28% of high school students, or about 80 middle schoolers and 180 high schoolers, are put in a pool for random drug testing per small school and even more when it comes to larger schools. The problem is, more than half these students won’t be deterred from taking drugs and they may take them later on in life (Drug Testing, 2016). These tests aren’t a good barrier and schools show no real force through these tests. Some of the students who are taking drugs might not even be tested (Terry-McElrath, 2017). Even though drug testing could deter students from taking drugs, schools shouldn’t have school drug testing due to its expensive needs and inaccurate readings.
The tests being costly is an understatement. Each test can cost up to $30 dollars each which means that if 1,000 students are tested it will cost $30,000 (Ryoko Yamaguchi, 2003). This cost doesn’t even account for steroid tests which cost $100 each or very accurate tests that cost $200 each (Ryoko Yamaguchi, 2003). The schools would need to hire trained personnel, as well, which most schools do not have the budget for (Ryoko Yamaguchi, 2003). This means that for schools to be able to pay for these tests, they would have either test fewer students or use less accurate tests. These less accurate tests also mean more false positives will show up. False positives can be a real problem for some students. Antidepressants, sleep aids, pain medications, diabetes medication, ADHD meds, and other prescriptions have a chance of showing positive on the test as a more serious drug like Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) or Methamphetamine (Orange, 2016). This could deter pupils from taking their vital medications or injured athletes from taking pain prescriptions when they dread a drug test might be coming up. Even students that have trouble falling asleep have a chance of being positive for PCP (phencyclidine; Angel Dust) (Orange, 2016). Some less serious over-the-counter medicines like cough and congestion medicines can show up as opiates, methamphetamine, and amphetamine (Orange, 2016). Even some foods can cause a false positive (How Accurate, 2017). Some students even know that some foods medicines can come up as a false positive and use this information to lie through a drug test. Since students can easily lie their way out of a drug test, they can continue to take methamphetamine or PCP and say they took some pain medication or a sleep aid and these medicines don’t require a doctor’s prescription to get. Marijuana and cigarette use has gone down in school campuses ever since the drug tests were put in place, but simultaneously more illegal drugs have been showing up more (Terry-McElrath, 2017).
Drug testing also won’t deter students later in their life when they don’t have a drug test to worry about (Terry-McElrath, 2017). Should this testing still be in place if it has no proof of being effective for the more serious drugs?If we want to deal with the more serious drugs circling around our campuses, education about these drugs has been shown to have more of an effect than tests. Proper education doesn’t cost nearly as much as drug testing does and won’t cause a massive hole to be found in a school’s wallet. Students who need certain drugs also won’t have to stress over being found positive during a drug test. While we can’t be completely sure that education will deter all students, studies have shown that it is a much better solution than schools making scholars go through these expensive and imprecise tests.
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