Can Drug Detox and Rehab Be Avoided Through Drug Testing In Schools?

Can Drug Detox and Rehab Be Avoided Through Drug Testing In Schools?

Random drug testing of students in middle and high schools is gaining in popularity, although its effectiveness as a deterrent to drug abuse is still debated in some circles. But many substance abuse experts, education authorities and even students believe it does reduce alcohol and illicit drug abuse, improves classroom attention and grade scores, and helps prevent addictions that could lead to the need for drug detox and rehab.

Questions about whether random student drug testing really works to keep kids off drugs get different answers depending on who you ask. There is little hard scientific evidence that random drug testing has had any measurable impact on substance abuse. Most published statistics are simple surveys of principals and students about drug use, which can hardly be called scientific. But many of these are positive, showing some reduction in student drug use. Unfortunately, comparative drug detox and rehab or ER admission statistics in school districts that have implemented random drug testing don't seem to be available.

There are some critics who point out that students see drug testing more as a challenge than a deterrent, and that drug use actually increases with testing. There doesn't appear to be any hard data to back that up either, but there are internet forums and teen web sites that cover plenty of ideas for faking drug tests, either by secretly contaminating urine samples or using products that are for sale on the web to "clean up" one's sample. And kids are becoming test-wise about choosing drugs: swapping information about drugs that disappear from your system more quickly than others.

Unfortunately, most information these days about alcohol and drug detox or rehab concerns pop stars and movie stars who are not giving drug detox and rehab the respect it deserves. This is not fair to high school kids who might get the idea that you can always just "go to rehab" so it's cool to play with drugs now. As any addict will attest, the real truth is another, much scarier story. Drug addiction, drug detox, and drug rehab are not a holiday.

Whether drug testing works or not, a few uneasy questions remain. What does it mean to force our youngsters to accept decreasing personal liberties and increasing adversarial relationships with authorities? Are we turning our kids into scheming criminals looking for ways to beat the drug testing system? Now mix those questions up with the confusions about "good" drugs vs. "bad" drugs - why are alcohol and tobacco still legal? Why are destructively addictive prescription drugs legal and so easy to get? These are confusing times for everyone.

On the legal side of things, random school drug testing is affecting our expectations regarding personal freedom, personal privacy, and our 4th Amendment rights. These have been brushed aside by the Supreme Court in all cases that challenged random drug testing in schools. Speaking for the majority in the most recent 2002 decision, Justice Clarence Thomas said, "Because this policy [drug testing] reasonably serves the school district's important interest in detecting and preventing drug use among its students, we hold that it is constitutional."

In other words, the school district's interests are more important than our rights to privacy, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, and the premise that we are innocent until proven guilty. But if testing can save even one person from a life of addiction and despair - really, think about it - is it such a bad idea?

Yes, there are arguments on both sides. And considering the horrifying extent of addiction across America and the destruction of so many young lives, one might be inclined to hang in there until something better than enforced random testing comes along - and maybe it will.

Meanwhile, for the students being tested, maybe it's better to just pee in the cup, stay clean and focus on your goals. And if you've been trying to beat the tests, knock it off and get clean. Someday you'll be glad you did.

Believe me, you do not want to join the ranks of people so messed up by drugs and alcohol and so completely out of touch with themselves that they need weeks or months in drug detox and rehab to recapture the hopes, dreams, and abilities that once defined who they are. Addiction obliterates your identity and your goals. If an occasional drug test will help keep you winning on your chosen path and out of a drug detox program and rehab, then maybe you should just go with it.

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