Random Drug Testing- a Blight or a Blessing?

Casey Barrett, Opinion Writer

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Random drug testing: it’s one of Kingsway’s most discussed topics, but the main question still remains to be settled: is it a good or bad idea?

Here are some facts to consider:

According to www.projectknow.com, New Jersey was third on the list of states with the highest binge drinking rates among high school students, with 23% of NJ high school students cited as binge drinking in the last thirty days. According to www.newportacademy.com, 61% of high school students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school, and 46% of seniors have been drunk at least once in their life. Trust for America recorded a drug overdose death rate that has more than doubled in the last ten years for people aged ten to twenty-five in their most recent health report. Also according to www.projectknow.com, the use of drugs or alcohol early in one’s life leads to a far greater risk of developing substance dependence. To further that point, a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that 74% of adults participating in a substance abuse program started using alcohol or drugs before the age of seventeen.

Obviously, substance abuse is a problem in today’s teens- and not one that will go away easily. According to www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (D.A.R.E) is used in 80% of US school systems, yet studies have shown these programs to be ineffective in reducing substance abuse.

So what is to be done about the increasing use of drugs and alcohol in today’s adolescents? Adolescence is an age where developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol is very likely to have life-changing effects- definitely not something to be taken lightly.

Teenagers know the consequences of their actions, but it is hard for them to see them at an age where peer pressure and the thrill of a high seem to outweigh the consequences that will follow such an early exposure to addiction. The only way to get teens to see that the good does not, in this case, outweigh the bad is to introduce new consequences- and random drug testing is the way to go. It may not be able to immediately curb the addictions of the most drug or alcohol-dependent teen, but it will certainly cause many students who otherwise would have gotten hooked on these substances without a second thought to stop and think about their actions. Once it is implemented, the system of random drug testing will also lead those stubborn teenage substance abusers to the path to recovery.

The biggest difference between random drug testing and substance abuse education is that while programs such as D.A.R.E. seek to educate, random drug testing will act. While both education and action are necessary for today’s addicted youth, random drug testing introduces a threat to Kingsway’s students- the negative consequences of uncovered underage drug and alcohol abuse are revoked privileges, such as suspension from extracurriculars and the denial of the right to a previously available parking space.

The school, however, also seeks to change the ways of the abusers it uncovers. It sets them on the right path that they otherwise would not have been led to and attempts to do so in ways that will not harm students into the future- no mention of a positive drug test is documented in any academic record or discipline file.

While there are many valid arguments against random drug testing; some say it’s an invasion of privacy.  Others say it’s not something for the school to do, but the parents to do. Ultimately, however, random drug testing cannot lead students anywhere but toward a better future and a more promising tomorrow.