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Is Random Drug Testing a Good Approach?

Is Random Drug Testing a Good Approach?

Random Drug Testing to Start at a Middle School

Middle schoolers in Lacey Twp, New Jersey, will be asked to submit to random drug tests starting in January 2017. Superintendent Craig Wigley said he expects that about 700 of the school’s 1,000 students are expected to participate in the program.

This initiative is noteworthy, since these types of efforts are not usually directed at such young people. Parents must enroll their seventh and eighth graders in the program, which is voluntary.

Consequences for Failing Drug Tests

The consequence for failing a random drug test would be removal from sports and extracurricular activities for 10 days. Failing a test a second time would mean a 45-day suspension from these activities. Failing a test a third time would mean a longer suspension.

Students who fail a drug test would be sent for counseling. Parents would be informed, and they would be given additional drug tests.

New Jersey Drug Death Statistics

The idea for having students undergo drug testing stems from a desire to curb the epidemic of drug use affecting the country. Since 2012, Ocean County, drug death rate has more than tripled. Approximately 180 people have died in the county in 2016 due to drug overdoses. The pattern has repeated itself across The Garden State, where deaths attributed to drug overdoses have increased by 16 percent between 2014-2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The program will be modeled after a similar drug testing program used in Lacey Township High School. In it, students who would like to participate in extracurricular activities, attend dances, play sports or park on school property must agree to undergo random drug testing.

The drug testing will be conducted by School Safe Testing Service. The Powell, Ohio, company has already billed Lacey Township School District more than $10,000.00 since January 2016 for its services.

AAP Against Drug Testing on Adolescents

It is unclear if this will be a thorough deterrent or form of intervention. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has gone on record against random drug testing in schools. The Academy has stated that there is a lack of evidence that these programs work and that there are few positive test results found among students. The Academy has questioned whether drug testing is wise, given the limited amount of funds available for school resources. It felt that a better use of available money would be to provide counseling and support to students identified as having drug problems.

Economic Interventions Needed to Reduce Substance Abuse

Economic Interventions Needed to Reduce Substance Abuse

Transitioning from teenager to young adult has always been tricky. Gone are the days where the biggest concerns were friends and school. Young adults are expected to work, save money, pay bills and make adult decisions. However, the current climate in the United States has made it difficult for young adults to flourish and transition into adulthood. The economy has not quite recovered and millions of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed. This unemployment problem has contributed to more young adults to commit crimes, develop substance abuse problems and enter into the prison system.

“These young people are missing key educational and employment experiences and are at increased risk for a host of negative outcomes: long spells of unemployment, poverty, criminal behavior, substance abuse, and incarceration,” explained a recent report released by the Brookings Institute.

This research seems to be at odds with the fact that there are more teenagers graduating from high school and more young adults graduating from college than ever before. However, when they are unable to secure reliable employment, temptations like drugs and alcohol, become harder to stay away from, and various forms of interventions are needed. These interventions aren’t just for those who become addicted, but also to help prevent others from getting addicted. Having more responsibilities in life and feeling more self-worth due to meaningful contribution helps to remove some of the stressors and triggers for possible substance abuse.

Often times drug abuse and alcohol abuse stem from experimentation. Experts agree that this experimentation can either be avoided or minimized with increased responsibilities. However, young adults who are unable to find jobs do not have that added responsibility and often spend their days being idle. It has long been understood in the addiction treatment and prevention field that boredom is a major factor in early drug use.

In order to conduct the study, researchers poured over data gathered from the Census Bureau. Information from 2008 – 2014 showed that youths were more likely to be unemployed in the future if they do not receive important educational and work experiences. One way to avoid future substance abuse problems, unemployment and criminal activity is to ensure that children and teenagers are given ample opportunity to acquire more life skills.

Despite the difficulty many face, there seems to be more actual opportunity, just not in the traditional sense. There are more ways than ever for people to be self-employed and earn a nice living through online mediums, for example. Skills to survive in today’s economy would be a much-needed intervention for life as a whole, because there are fewer jobs available today that have pensions or other retirement plans than those of just a couple generations ago.