Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Drug Testing in Schools

Could random drug testing lead to a higher rate of inhalant abuse? We'd love to hear your thoughts/concerns!

At its meeting Monday night, District 308 School Board members voted unanimously in favor of a program that would provide random testing of students who have a parking pass, or who participate in extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs.

The move makes the school the sixth Mid-Illini Conference high school to put a random drug-testing program into place — leaving only Pekin and Limestone. However, we think such a policy in unfair and unnecessary. And it might even put students’ safety in jeopardy.

Alcohol and hard drugs such as cocaine, Ecstasy, meth, heroin, PCP and LSD metabolize much faster than marijuana, and are therefore in one’s system for a far shorter time than pot — ranging from a few hours to a few days, whereas cannabis can be detected even weeks after use. 

So a teen who is aware that drug testing is a possibility may decide it is less risky to do some coke on a Friday night, knowing he has a much better shot at passing a drug test than he would if he smoked a joint. 
Similarly, the policy won’t prohibit drinking on the weekend — even though, in many ways, marijuana is considered less harmful than alcohol.

In the U.S. News & World Report article “5 Ways Teens Might Cheat on Drug Tests — and How to Catch Them,” Sharon Levy, a pediatrician and director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, said teens may also opt for dangerous drugs that are virtually undetectable on drug tests, such as inhalants. 

“You don’t excrete [inhalants] in your urine,” she said, but “inhaling is acutely more dangerous than marijuana.”

In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that otherwise healthy youth can fall victim to a deadly heart problem called “sudden sniffing death” as a result of inhalant use. 

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