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AAP Opposes Random Drug Testing in Schools

Helping students avoid substance problems is preferred approach

MONDAY, March 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — In a new report, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirms its stance against random drug testing in schools. The group suggests schools redirect their limited resources toward helping students avoid or overcome drug problems. The report was published online March 30 in Pediatrics.

Teen alcohol and drug use is a big problem, the group says, and subjecting adolescents to random drug tests might sound like a strong deterrent. But scientific research shows otherwise. “The evidence is just really weak,” coauthor Sharon Levy, M.D., M.P.H., of Boston Children’s Hospital, told HealthDay.

For one thing, Levy said, the tests are unlikely to catch adolescents who use drugs sporadically, rather than heavily. “And with kids, it’s mainly sporadic use that you’re trying to detect,” she added.

Other issues include the risk of false-positive results. Some medications, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder drugs, or even certain foods can generate a positive result, Levy said. And then there’s cost. Levy’s team said a single drug test is about $24. But since random testing catches so few students on drugs, it costs around $3,000 to get one positive test result.

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