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Friday, March 8, 2013

Testing Middle School Students for Drugs and Alcohol

Preventing drug and alcohol use and abuse amongst teenagers is of the utmost importance. One of the most challenging aspects of teenage drug abuse is that no parent wants to believe that their child may be engaging in risky behavior; in turn, teenagers often go unchecked throughout their formative years. A new study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and Fairleigh Dickinson University has found that random drug testing of middle-school students may help prevent substance abuse.

Those students who were randomly tested for drugs were found to be less likely to use them later on in life, according to the study.

Only about 1 percent of 8th graders say they have ever used illicit drugs, and only about 14 percent said that they have ever had alcohol, other than times when it was permitted by family members, such as religious ceremonies. Among those tested for drugs and alcohol, 6 percent said they had ever consumed alcohol.

Dan Cassino, the lead researcher in the study, said that when middle-school students are tested for drugs, they realize drug use can get them in trouble. “We still see a spike around the junior year of high school,” Cassino said.

“Once the kids get a car and get a job, all bets are off, and the rates of drug and alcohol use go through the roof; but that spike is much smaller among students who actually were randomly drug tested at some point.”

“These results show that student drug testing changes the environment of the school community and show they serve as an effective prevention strategy for the abuse of drugs and alcohol in their future,” Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said in a news release. “This study proves random drug testing in New Jersey middle schools helps prevent substance abuse.”
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