Teenagers might enter secondary school as children, but they will leave as young adults. This six-year period is transformational — full of growth, hardships and self-discovery. It’s also an experimental time — and for millions of teens, that means trying drugs and alcohol. Sadly, some teens doing drugs will suffer serious consequences as a result of substance use.

School drug testing is carried out to determine if students or applicants are using drugs. This is a necessary action because drug abuse is on the rise and our life in secondary school determines what we turn out to be in the future.

Drugs have no rightful place anywhere in society; however, they have even less of a place in academic environments where teens are living in their most formative years. The teen drug/alcohol user’s academic performance is severely impaired, along with his or her level of responsibility – such as skipping class, failing to complete assignments, etc.

Drug testing can identify teens who have started using drugs and would be good targets for early intervention, as well as identify those who already have drug problems, so they can be referred for treatment.

The primary purpose of drug testing is not to punish students who use drugs but to prevent drug abuse and to help students already using become drug-free. If a student tests positive for drugs, schools can respond to the individual situation. If a student tests positive for drug use but has not yet progressed to addiction, the school can require counselling and follow-up testing. For students diagnosed with addiction, parents and a school administrator can refer them to effective drug
treatment programs to begin the recovery process.

We at M Toxicology provide a full package which involves both testing and rehabilitation.

Why do teenagers use drugs? There are countless reasons. Many are reacting to peer pressure and believe turning to drugs and alcohol is how to become popular in secondary school.

Common reasons schools implement drug testing are to:

  • Build a productive and sound-minded generation
  • Deter students from abusing alcohol and drugs
  • Prevent admitting students who use illegal drugs
  • Be able to identify early and appropriately refer students who have drug and/or alcohol problems for rehabilitation
  • Provide a safe environment for students
  • Instill parent confidence that students are studying in a safe drug-free environment
  • Demonstrate your social responsibility to the communities around the school
  • Be assured of a safe environment

Problems associated with drug use and/or drug dependency in teens

  • Increase in aggression
  • Decreased Academic excellence
  • Premature death/fatal accidents
  • Theft
  • Risk of overdose
  • Sexual violence e,g, rape
  • Dropping out of School
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Unsafe sex
  • Homosexuality
  • Impairment of brain development
  • Absenteeism
  • Depression
  • Stunted growth
  • After-effects of substance use (e.g. hangover or withdrawal) affecting class and co-curricular performance
  • Poor decision making
  • Involvement in risky behavior like strikes & school burning
  • Increased likelihood of conflicts with classmates and teachers
  • Illegal activities at school including selling illicit drugs to other students

Repeated drug use can also lead to the disease of addiction. Studies show that the earlier a teen begins using drugs, the more likely he or she will develop a substance use disorder or addiction. Conversely, if teens stay away from drugs while in secondary school, they are less likely to develop a substance use disorder later in life.

When should schools conduct drug testing?

  • Periodic: this is scheduled and is typically performed on current students at consistent time periods throughout the year (perhaps once or twice a year).
  • Pre-admission: this is done before one is admitted to a particular school
  • Random: Performed unannounced using a random selection process to get a representation of the population.
  • Reasonable suspicion: this is done on a student that is suspected to abuse drugs following their odd behavior.
  • Post-accident/post-incident: This should be standard practice for most schools. This substantiates whether an accident/incident was due to the influence of drugs or not. This also guides on the actions to take.
  • Return-to-school for previously suspended students: This is carried out when a previously suspended student (for drug abuse) is to return to school.
  • “Follow-up” – applied only to previously suspended students “if” re-admitted: It is recommended that a minimum of 5 follow-up drug tests of the re-admitted students are performed in the first 12 months following re-admission.

How is School Drug Testing done?

All that M Toxicology needs to perform school drug testing is a urine sample.