Adult workers have been exposed to random drug tests ever since the 80s, but now there's a growing trend to also test high school students. Students may either be picked at random or when a school suspects a student of using illicit drugs. The aim of this is to detect drug use early on and refer affected students for treatment before the long-term effects of addiction can kick in.
Here's a quick guide to random school drug tests.
Is High School Drug Testing Legal?
The answer is both yes and no. Historically, only student athletes could be tested for drug use. In 2002, however, the US Supreme Court voted to allow random drug tests for all middle and high school students involved in competitive extracurricular activities, extending testing to many more students.
On the other hand, those not involved in any competitive extracurricular activities cannot be drug tested. This falls under the protection against "unreasonable searches and seizures" provided by the fourth amendment, at least for now.
Note that individual states may also have their own laws about drug testing, subject to the US Constitution.
What Form Do Random School Drug Tests Take?
The type of drug test is decided locally, with school boards deciding based on factors such as cost and convenience. Most use urine tests, with saliva tests being used by some to a lesser degree.
What Drugs Do Schools Test for?
Again, this will depend on the tests chosen by the school board. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among high school students, so this will always be tested for.
Many school boards will probably go for 5-panel urine testing kits, because they're relatively cheap and cover the five major drug groups: Weed, Coke, Opiates, Amphetamines, and PCP. However, if they're willing to spend the extra cash, they may go for extended tests that also cover commonly abused prescription drugs.
If a student fails a screening, another sample is usually tested in a lab using methods that are more accurate.
Alcohol abuse is also a concern for many schools, but testing can be problematic. Alcohol tests can only detect consumption within a few hours, so it's generally regarded as a waste of time and money. However, teenagers with alcohol problems often use one or more other drugs, so they're often caught with the standard drug test.
Can Students Beat Drug Tests?
Many people will say they can't, but you just need to read a few discussion forums to see how many people successfully cheat drug tests.
Random school drug tests may not always use the best methods, which opens up possibilities to cheat them. There are various home remedies, but many of these simply dilute the urine.
Another method is to use detox drinks, which serve to flush drug residues out of the bladder. With carefully timed use, a student could successfully pass a drug test.