Study: Student Drug Testing Programs Linked To Spikes In ‘Hard’ Drug Use

Schools that institute student drug testing programs are likely to experience a rise in students’ consumption of ‘hard’ drugs, according to observational trial data published this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research analyzed the impact of student drug testing programs in some 250,000 high-school and middle-school students over a 14 year period. Investigators reported that random drug testing programs of the student body and programs specifically targeting student athletes were associated with “moderately lower marijuana use,” but cautioned that drug testing programs overall were “associated with increased use of illicit drugs other than marijuana.”

An estimated 14 percent of middle school students and 28 per cent of US high school students are now subject to some form of drug testing.

Urinalysis, the most common form of student drug testing, screens for the presence of inert drug metabolites (breakdown products), not the actual parent drug. Because marijuana’s primary metabolite, carboxy-THC, is fat soluble, it may be present in urine for days, weeks, or in some cases even months after past use. By contrast, most other illicit drug metabolites are water soluble and will exit the body within a matter of hours. Authors of the study speculated that students subjected to drug screens were switching from cannabis to other illicit drugs which possessed shorter detection times.

“Random SDT (student drug testing) among the general high school student population, as well as middle and high school subgroups targeted for testing, was associated with moderately lower marijuana use; however, most forms of testing were associated with moderately higher use of other illicit drugs, particularly in high school,” the authors concluded. “These findings raise the question of whether SDT is worth this apparent tradeoff.”

Commenting on the findings, the study’s lead author affirmed, “It is clear that drug testing is not providing the solution for substance-use prevention that its advocates claim.”

Previous assessments of student drug testing programs have reported that those subjected to such programs are no less likely to report consuming illicit drugs, tobacco, or alcohol than their peers.

The abstract of the study, “Middle and High School Drug Testing and Student Illicit Drug Use: A National Study 1998–2011,” is available online here.

26 thoughts

  1. It could start with simple thing’s,like;’ carbohydrates’,,and then much more-sinister–like ‘protein”and then what????

    you sick bastards,,,,left to you’re imaginations….?

  2. “Investigators reported that random drug testing programs of the student body and programs specifically targeting student athletes were associated with “moderately lower marijuana use,” but cautioned that drug testing programs overall were “associated with increased use of illicit drugs other than marijuana.”


    No doubt.

    In some of the situations, scenarios, and life settings I have found myself – I have seen this to be as well. It is rather common knowledge, among soldiers, athletes, and persons who find themselves on probation, that marijuana METABOLITES stay in the system far longer than evidence of other drugs.

    This is because cannabis is virtually harmless, whereas meth and MDMA (ecstasy) and other drugs are akin to toxins which the body purges as rapidly as possible.

    It is another example of counter-productive machinations of our school and legal systems.
    That drive people, (who are going to do whatever anyway), away from TRACKABLE harmless, to less trackable harmful chemicals.

    Brilliant work.

    Now its time to farking fix it.

  3. Is this REALLY surprising???

    Metabolite-based urinalysis drug testing
    causes DECREASED usage of the relatively
    LEAST HARMFUL compound, (cannabis), but
    INCREASES consumption of the MORE DANGEROUS
    yet less-detectable / undetectable ones,
    (such as alcohol, opiates, inhalants, OTC “meds,” amphetamines, tranquilizers, “spice,” “bath salts,” synthetic “research” chemicals, anabolic steroids…).

    “Preventative” drug-testing
    creating a worse, far deadlier “problem”

    Oh, the IRONY!!!

  4. I have been beating this drum for a long time. The problem that I continue to face is that people are less susceptible to listen to the common person with some/new controversial evidence. We Have DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)which within itself sounds like a decent program but when the word gets out about the truth of certain medicinal, spiritual, plants then Pandora’s box has been opened.. So then what you have is a group of young people feeling let astray believing very little of what your trying to promote as truth.. Why is it that we are told that cannabis is harmful but they refuse to allow any evidence that promotes cannabis and other medicinal,spiritual plants..I want evidence. The REAL truth not the story to fit the mold which suits your agenda.

  5. The days when they can spin this info to dupe Congress into increase funding yet again for their asinine, counterproductive war are numbered.

    But you all already knew that didn’t you?

  6. As a former h/s athlete (2009-2012) I was forced to take random drug tests. Whenever I had to submit to a urine test my anxiety increased because of the amount of pressure that the testers as well as all the other students whom are waiting for your urine sample (safe toilette syndrom.) This is absolutely ridiculous that we put pressure on our youth to test them mostly for cannabis usage. I did not partake of any herb substance until college years but wish I would have because after playing for my football team (started bothways) I would feel like absolute dookie and now I know that cannabis would have made me feel soo much better. Forget this system its time for anarchy.

  7. We were talking about the idiocy of this effect in the 70’s and it’s just now being supported by statistics? Ahh, the other idiocy: making it near impossible to test theories in the first place…the stigma, you know.

  8. Of all “alternatives” cannabis is the most dangerous to the Nicotine $igarette Empire, so the Drug Testing fad is clearly designed in the interest of Big 2WackGo. Double jeopardy– not only might millions decide on a policy of “Marijuana Instead of Tobacco”, but further millions might decide to Vape Instead of Smoke, i.e. the high-profit 700-mg $igarette format replaced by 25-mg single tokes in a one-hitter or Vaporizer (an E-Cigarette is a liquid-formula-based vaporizer). Bye bye profits in the $igarette industry, time to Bail Out Philip Morris.

    Another thing they particularly hate about cannabis is the way it fertilizes the imagination– challenges a person to try something new– when after all the basis of the high profit $igarette format is to train the suckers to trudge along doing the same thing 200* times a day, year after year.
    *based on ten puffs x 20 fags per day (pack-a-day habit)

    Think– one way to get around “drug testing” is ENTREPRENEURISM– invent your own product, teach yourself how to make and sell, OUTGROW wanting the “security” of a yes-man job relationship, abject loyalty to a vengeful jealous employer etc.

  9. Your tax dollars at work again. Supporting Ameriatox drug testing company. They have made billions off of Medicare testing pain patients. They were sued for giving false readings that stated there was not high enough levels in the urine to state a patient was properly taking their meds. They lost the law suit, no fine, they just can’t say levels are too low for everybody since everybody has different metabolite system. They still came out a winner though, the doctors make patients submit more drug urine test, resulting in more money for Ameriatox and the doctors.

  10. Everyone is acting like prohibitionists want kids not to be on hard drugs! What do you think the point of the drug war is? To encourage drug use! Think this is too cynical? Look at the ads the gov’t put out in the early Ninties in response to the cannabis use rate going down. They got in trouble because they were running commercials talking about how cool it was to smoke weed and other things. That’s the whole point!

  11. For years, I do not believe Mary Jane encourages users going for harder dope. It is the Uncle Sam (Prohibition) himself encourages society move up to harder dope. History already proved during the alcohol prohibition ERA.

    Everybody knows that Mary Jane likes to live in somebody’s body much longer than any other stuff, and in order to hide during drug test while maintain nice high so the option is obviously, move up harder one to prevent being detected.

    Finally, it is no brainer and too bad Richard Nixon was real an idiot to begin with!

    420 crusader

  12. I wonder if those doing the testing are tested. Prob not, they can go home every night to their private stash without worry. Has to stop.

  13. Ok class, if anybody here has parents who are on drugs and you fell uncomefortable about it you can tell us and we will help your parents get clean. Dare stinks.

  14. Welcome to Prison America, where everyone is considered to be a criminal. When I was a kid, the idea of police breaking down someone’s door and shooting their pets and throwing them around, just to find out that they have the wrong address, would have started a civil war. Now, we have been lulled into thinking that this is a normal way to live. Innocent people are killed more than we’d like to think. Why isn’t it a crime to murder innocent life in the quest to ‘regulate’ the illegal drug industry ?

  15. Drug testing is a violation of the 4th amendment and is a chemical loyalty oath in which a human being is judged on their bodily fluids and their obedience to the corporate masters. This system of testing has taken the human out of human being.

  16. I think the commenters here are hitting the key point that this article fails to have written in words. Is there any reason why? The title should read “Children choosing harder drugs in an attempt to beat drug test detection”..

  17. Ya’ll dont remember that America is a corperation? This is where people from all over the world come to work. but now jobs are being sent overseas, so… i dunno anymore

    out with numb dumb, in with the genius crew

  18. It’s time to dismantle this system of corporate domination over our bodies. First we need weed legal in as many places / states as possible. This will help the population to start to understand what the masters intend. The courts are already siding with patients in some states. MI courts just recently gave MMJ patients the right to drive with THC/Coo in their systems stating that they need to show impairment before they can be arrested.

  19. What about employee drug testing, that shit needs to be stopped ASAP , ban urine testing , marijuana is so common now. It’s rediculus that marijuana is legal here in WA and CO, still hard to get a job, the people that came up with the bill should of thought that through.

  20. “Are drug tests reliable?
    No. The drug screens used by most companies are not reliable. These tests yield false positive results at least 10 percent, and possibly as much as 30 percent, of the time. Experts concede that the tests are unreliable. At a recent conference, 120 forensic scientists, including some who worked for manufacturers of drug tests, were asked, “Is there anybody who would submit urine for drug testing if his career, reputation, freedom or livelihood depended on it?” Not a single hand was raised. ”

    -ACLU Briefing

    Found in the ‘lectric Law files, listed on the first post in the archive of my anti-drug war blog that has a focus on drug testing in particular, I’ve been compiling a list of online resources to help people make others aware of this Drug War profiteering scam. The time is ripe now, because once MJ is legalized they’ll lose 98% of their numbers.

    If anyone has any pro-legalization, anti-drug war and especially anti-drug testing sentiments–news, personal stories or observations, etc–I’m willing to post them.

    @xboxrrod: You’re absolutely right, and the first thing that I heard came up on that subject in CO was “can an employer fire someone for testing positive for MJ now?” The answer was “yes, because the federal law still declares it to be a ‘dangerous narcotic’ and illegal”. That’s the only reason. And I’ve been seeing evidence that medical mj legalization is at least undermining drug testing in those states–unfortunately they’ve been making up their lost ill-gotten dollars by ramping it up in hellholes like Ohio that are either only decriminalized or worse. Legalization has a momentum they can no longer stop now, medical marijuana is hitting the halfway point in the states, and once we have enough states on board….well, the federal law is not going to last for long, and they know it, and that is the ONLY thing still saving the scam drug testing industry. It’s the last thread on which they hang, just waiting for the fall. I have no sympathy for them whatsoever.

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