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Overview Drug Testing Works Program Development



Scientists have discovered that the brain is not fully developed in early childhood, as was once believed, but is in fact still growing even in adolescence. Introducing chemical changes in the brain through the use of illegal drugs can therefore have far more serious adverse effects on adolescents than on adults.

Thanks to advances in medical technology, researchers are now able to capture pictures of the human brain under the influence of drugs. These images clearly show that the pleasurable sensations produced by some drugs are due to actual physical changes in the brain. These changes are long-lasting, and some are irreversible. Even so-called soft drugs can take a heavy toll. Marijuana’s effects, for example, are not confined to the “high;” the drug can also cause serious problems with memory and learning, as well as difficulty in thinking and problem solving. Use of methamphetamine or Ecstasy (MDMA) may cause long-lasting damage to brain areas that are critical for thought and memory. In animal studies, researchers found that four days of exposure to Ecstasy caused damage that persisted for as long as six or seven years.

How do we help school-age children to steer clear from drugs? Frequent and open conversations at home or in school about the harmful consequences of drug use send a clear message to children that drug use is not healthy, exciting, or accepted. Supporting these messages with a prevention program that can help deter drug initiation and prevent drug use from progressing to abuse or addiction is important.


Random student drug testing satisfies two important public health goals: prevention and treatment of substance abuse. Student drug-testing programs are non-punitive and are designed to 1) deter students from initiating drug use, 2) help identify students who have just begun to use drugs before a dependency begins, and 3) help identify students with a dependency so that they may be referred to appropriate treatment.

Testing gives young people a compelling reason to say "no" to drugs. The expectation that they may be randomly tested is enough to make some students stop using drugs—or never start in the first place. And by helping to identify kids who are using drugs, a random testing program can alert parents to the problem and allow them to take appropriate steps before their children become addicted.

As the President pointed out, the goal of drug testing is not to punish students who use drugs. It is to deter use and guide those who test positive into counseling or treatment. Academic consequences should never be imposed because of a positive drug test. Moreover, the results of drug tests may not be shared with law enforcement and do not become part of a student's file.

Used as a component in a broader, comprehensive substance abuse prevention program, testing can help stop students from initiating this destructive behavior and help those already using drugs to find appropriate treatment.

Statement of purpose

Drug testing offers great promise for our schools and communities. This website is a resource for learning more about student drug testing, offering information for different levels of awareness and engagement for parents, administrators, and students. It is designed to provide quick and easy access to accurate materials on student drug testing from court decisions to program guidance. Announcements of important events, such as the location and dates of summits, will keep users abreast of important developments in the field of student drug testing. A comprehensive one-stop-shop for information about a powerful substance abuse prevention tool, this website will be updated at regular intervals to ensure accuracy of content.