Drug testing: Nuisance but necessary


Megaphone Staff

Students are most likely familiar with the truck that randomly shows up after the lunch period and sits within the circle, as students believe, waiting to claim its next victim and send him or her straight to Vice Principal for Student Conduct Ms. Kathy Saum’s office. 

What students might not be aware of are the benefits of having this single truck periodically showing up on our doorstep from time to time. Although known to be a location to catch bad behavior among students, the drug truck, as Saum notes, is meant to help kids who may desperately need it. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse writes, “Twenty-one percent of 12th graders say that they’ve used any illicit drug other than marijuana at least once in their lifetime, and about 36 percent reported using marijuana in the last year. Misuse of prescription drugs is also a concern.” 

Students in high school and students in general are faced with several stressful situations whether it be social, academic or family-related and can sometimes make poor decisions. Drug testing these students is not meant to shame them, but rather pick them up from the ground after they have fallen with drugs or alcohol.

Of course, there are some consequences that follow testing positive for drug or alcohol use, but as Saum said, “It’s a lot less consequences than students realize. There’s no big suspension or anything like that.” The consequences are only put in place to make sure that the parents are aware of what the student is doing, so that they can guide the student on a path that will put them back on track. 

If a student is using nonprescription drugs, they will need to be helped immediately. The Recovery Village writes, “Consequences of addiction include brain abnormalities, slowed thinking and impaired learning and memory. It can also deplete the brain of certain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, sending high schoolers into a prolonged depression and leaving them susceptible for more destructive behaviors.” 

The most important action to take is not punishment, because often an addict cannot stop and therefore will not cease illegal use or substance abuse simply following a detention. Instead, professional help is needed in order to ensure students are given the help they need. 

Without drug testing, no one is there to save the student from their decisions that will reflect negatively upon them in the future.

On another note, for most of a student’s lifetime, the idea of drugs and alcohol being terrible substances has been pounded into their brains. Drug testing in schools, although meant to help students who are struggling, is also meant to deter kids from using in the first place. 

Saum believes that the drug truck has done its job, and there is evidence to support the fact that Cathedral has one of the lowest drug use rates compared to other schools in the area. 

Cathedral tests around 115 students per month, which is supposed to remind those who are thinking about taking drugs that there is a possibility that they will be tested sometime soon. Using the truck is a positive decision in that respect when it comes to making kids pause and think for a minute about the implications of their actions.

When it comes to arguments against drug testing, most studies cite costs as a reason for why students should not be tested. They argue that the cost is too high and the money could be put into other projects benefiting the school. Saum stated that an average test costs around $30, which comes out of students’ tuition money. It can be argued that the money of one test multiplied by the amount of students would turn out to become a hefty sum to be added to the budget, but as Saum argues, it is well worth the money if a student’s life is saved. There comes a point in this situation where money should not be calculated because money does not come above the price of a student’s life. The job of the administration is to ensure the safety of each and every student on campus. Not providing drug testing might mean the downfall of a student’s career or potentially even worse consequences.

It is up to the school to continue helping students in any capacity possible. Although the process of drug testing may seem daunting for students, remember the good that comes out of the system.   Think about how you would want the school to help you if you were on the wrong path.