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School Drug Testing

Drug testing is an important activity in schools, hospitals, or workplace to assess drug abuse among the youth, workers, and employees. Drug testing is administered through various different methods to detect a myriad of drugs that are found to be commonly abused by people such as marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, and PCP. There a number of methods in which drug testing can be made possible. Typically it uses different drug testing kits to detect the presence of drug metabolites in the person's body such as the urine test, saliva test, and blood test. These tests are very accurate, although they may not give as much as 100 percent surefire assurance since the result can be deceived through dilutions while some other factors can cause false positive result. In this sense, drug testing is divided into two parts. First an initial drug test is done then a confirmatory drug test comes up next to fairly abide with federal guidelines of drug testing. The cut-off level of drugs in the body is also based to the new federal guidelines approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration or SAMSHA.

How Drug Tests Are Done at Schools

According to research teenagers are the most likely to abuse drugs. They cover almost half of the population of drug abusers with the availability of drugs as the main key factor. Research show that drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana are easily obtained from colleagues at school; otherwise, they are sold furtively in the black-market at affordable prices. They are often mixed with some foods and drinks as disguise which provides easy acquisition for younger people.

At schools, drug testing follows a certain procedures to assess the presence of drug metabolite such as THC in the teenager's body. Firstly, urine samples are obtained from subjects either randomly or announced. Drug test screens for the presence drug metabolites THC using immune assay test in which results above the federal cut off level of 50 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL) is subject into a confirmatory test known as gas chromatography or mass spectroscopy (GS or MS).

Drug testing can also be done using other drug testing kits such as the saliva drug test kits. This non-invasive drug testing method uses oral fluid such as saliva to provide a fast and accurate result. The test typically detects up to six kinds of drugs. Another is also done by collecting hair sample. Using the hair follicles, the drug testing kit is able to detect the smallest amount of drugs present in the subject's body. By testing the hair sample that is nearest to the scalp, this actually evaluates the amount of drug metabolites that is present inside the hair shaft and provides a drug history over a 90-day period.

School Drug Testing Statistics

Drug testing in schools is basically conducted to address substance and drug abuse issues that commonly rise among youths. As per school-based mandatory-random student drug testing (MRSDT) in 2004 to 2005, the approach aimed to hit two goals. First is to identify the students who have been abusing substance and drugs and give them proper counseling and the second is to deter substance and drug abuse among all students. However, some issues regarding the effectiveness of drug testing among students have risen after its results have been determined. Despite its effort to achieve two goals, research show that drug testing does not have any positive effect to slow down the drug abuse among teenagers at schools. The MRSDT showed the non- drug free schools with random drug testing pose 1.69 average risk among teens while non-drug free schools without drug testing showed 1.50. This results to an estimate of 40 percent students abusing drugs in non-drug-free schools 34 percent on non-drug-free schools without drug testing. Basing on the results, it seems that drug testing does not hinder or post alarm to drug abusers as most of them also admit that they are definitely abusing drugs. In fact, study published in 2007 showed that students who have been into drug testing are at high risk for drug abuse in the future.

However, because of the rampant issues of drug abuse at present, schools continue to administer drug testing among the youth. Despite the researches results, schools continue to embrace the benefits of random and mandatory drug testing in catching up students who are abusing illicit drugs as well as the drug dealers. According to records, school counselors are able to determine the students who needed help the most by knowing the identity of abusers. Drug testing results has also helped police investigators handcuffed sources of smuggled drugs through a thorough investigation. Most students who have been diagnosed to be positive drugs were the ones given the chance to be cured from addiction in proper rehabilitation centers. In this way, they become less likely to commit the same errors again.

The following are the noted advantages of drug testing in schools:

  • Identification of the commonly abused drugs
  • Discovery of offenders as well as lead to drug smugglers
  • Pursuance of reach out activities and programs to victims of drug abuse
  • Further protection and safeguard at school
  • Eliminate influence and peer pressure to use drugs
  • Provides manpower to implement a drug-free school
  • Educate and liberate students to live a healthy and productive lifestyle

How Students Beat Drug Testing at Schools

Most students beat drug testing using the method known as detoxification. This involves drinking fluids and other agents that cleanse the presence of drugs in the body so that by the time a drug test is administered at schools, the result would show a negative drug test through a diluted specimen. The availability of specimen dilution products in internet souks and merchants today has also caused teenagers less apprehensive to drug testing. Knowing that they can simply buy some of them before administration of drug test comes; they are less worried and more confident to have a negative result. Some products are even known to have the capabilities of falsifying the results of results of hair and saliva test.

However, the truth is drugs are still detectable though drug testing and little did they know the action can actually take them to further tests. In truth, a drug test showing a dilute specimen means that the subject has undergone some detox to offset the presence of drugs in the body. Some diluted specimen still show metabolites of the products being used, although they may have successfully masked the drugs. This in turn puts a person a candidate for further test to assess accurate and more reliable result. Dilution might be a good idea on saving up oneself from positive drug result; however, drug testing itself also have a thorough process on detecting diluted specimen which makes drug abusers no escape at all.

Pros and Cons of School Drug Testing

Most people usually perceive drug testing as a controversial issue. Despite its primary goal centered on assessing and addressing problems of substance and drug abuse among students at schools opponents claim the opposite result aside from its negative perspective to some ethical issues. With this, below are the common pros and cons of school drug testing. The main purpose of this is to provide balance on the way individuals perceive school drug testing and must not be used as a material to create further controversies. Thus, the following are based on opinions of the public and well supported researches.

On the Efficiency of Drug Testing

Pros Cons
The Drug and Alcohol Testing (DAT) is administered to detect teenagers who are abusing alcohols and drugs and address whatever issue arising as results to drug and alcohol abuse. In an instant, where a kid or teenager is caught to have positive result of drugs and subject to relative liabilities and penalties, the person is less likely to abuse drugs in the future. Several studies show that drug testing in schools has no deterrent effect to reduce the abuse of drugs among teenagers. The availability of drugs in souks and other sources has made drug acquisition fast and easy in a stealth manner that, drug testing is not able to hunt down. Another study on drug testing shows no difference in schools that have drug testing and those that do not. Data collected between 1998 and 2001 showed that drug testing against the use of illicit drugs among 76, 000 athletes and students did not have any impact at all.
Drug testing has served as the lead to discovering the real drug abusers at schools. And before it is too late, a positive drug test can send a student to rehabilitation center without further ado. In this way, although drug test may not be able to detect serious problems, it is able to give out remedies to cure those who are found to be guilty. Drug testing do not detect serious problems regarding drugs though as it only focuses on the detecting presence of drug metabolites in the body that results to positive drug test.
Drug testing involves a series of two tests to ensure accurate and positive result. First is the administration of initial test and then a confirmatory test through gas chromatography or mass spectroscopy (GS or MS). This makes drug testing a more reliable method of determining students who have been involved into drug abuse. False positive result of drug testing is an inevitable error in drug testing. For instance, over-the- counter decongestants can produce a positive result for amphetamine. On the other hand, codeine can also produce positive result for heroin and some other food products that contain poppy seeds, which are taken for some medical reasons, can also produce a positive result for opiates.

Ethics on School Drug Testing

Pros Cons
Drug testing minimizes the possibility of students to get involved into troubles in the future. Meanwhile, teenagers who are assessed with the positive drug test will be given the chance to be admitted in a rehabilitation center before everything could be too late. Drug testing whether mandatory or random has been perceived to violate some ethics. For instance, in a study taken from the Journal of Drug Education (2005), high school students who were required to undergo drug testing before any extracurricular activities were downgraded. As not all students get involved into drugs when doing extracurricular activities, drug testing has been perceived as accusatory living up to the notion that anyone who undergoes any kind of sports uses drugs while leaving just the same perception to the people around.
The result of the drug test, as per subject's request will remain confidential. Despite a positive drug test, the result will remain a secret and will not be announced throughout the class or the public. Neither will the list of students who are found to be positive appear on the media. Random drug testing can invade the privacy of individuals who may be into furtive medications due to certain medical conditions. In this case, when the person is found to be positive using the drug identification testing kits, he or she may be forced to explain the condition to justify drug use. The situation can be awkward and judgmental for the subject.
Drug testing helps up students recover from addiction at the time they are diagnosed to be positive with illicit drugs. In this, way they are given a second chance to live life in a normal way and become productive individuals in the future. School drug testing can be contradictory to the belief of some students at school. Aside that random drug testing is done unannounced; it becomes a disturbing surprise causing many other students to leave more important tasks and meetings. Experts understand that this can build up anger and wrath which can further triggers one to do undesirable things.

Legal Side of School Drug Testing

Pros Cons
School drug testing is legal under federal law and state mandate. Random drug testing at schools is important to cure teenagers form drug and substance abuse and subject those who are notorious into reasonable penalties. A simple positive results of drug testing can lead to further searches in the accused subject even though, it may be not that important at all. Some students get positive drug test even though they are not using drugs at all. For instance, by using the instant drug testing kits, they become positive with marijuana from inhaling secondary smoke from going out with colleagues and classmates who have been smoking recently.
A drug test result is a very good evidence to support cases of drug abuse. In this case, false accusation will less likely to occur, and the right student shall be put into proper actions and other countermeasures to stop using illicit drugs. Students usually claim their right to privacy saying that positive drug test must not be a sole justification to search a student who has had a positive drug test result. In addition, drug testing can lead to the discovery of things which are ought to be kept confidential such rare diseases or severe diseases.


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