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Middle School Drug Testing May Be Effective

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
March 8, 2013

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A six-year study finds that random drug testing of middle school students in New Jersey can help prevent substance abuse.

The study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and Fairleigh Dickinson University indicates that drug use by students in grades six thru eight is relatively rare.

F-D-U political science professor Dan Cassino says middle school students who were randomly tested for drugs are less likely to use them in later years.

“We’re seeing a reduction in some cases from about 14 percent likelihood of having used an illicit substances down to about 6 percent likelihood of having used an illicit substance in 11th and 12th grades. So that is a big effect.”

Cassino says the middle school kids who were tested realize drug use can get them in trouble and don’t want to deal with it.

 “We still see a spike around the junior year of high school. Once the kids get a car and get a job all bets are off, and the rates of drug and alcohol use go though the roof, but that spike is much smaller among students who actually were randomly drug tested at some point.”

While random testing might be effective, Cassino says it comes at a cost.

“In order to get big reductions we have to test a lot of students. It’s not cheap to do. You can’t have a school nurse do it. You have to have an outside medial professional with certification and training to do it. It’s up to districts to make that determination. Is it worthwhile?”

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