Random student drug testing as a school-based drug prevention strategy


Correspondence to: Robert L. DuPont, Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc., 6191 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852, USA. E-mail: bobdupont@aol.com



This paper describes the goals and current practice of school-based random student drug testing (RSDT) as part of an overall drug prevention strategy, briefly explores the available literature evaluating its effectiveness and discusses the controversies related to RSDT.


The authors describe the rationale for RSDT programs and the prevalence of RSDT and other drug testing programs in schools. Eight major criticisms and controversies in RSDT are discussed, including those related to acceptance of RSDT, program effectiveness, costs, legality and effects of drug testing on students. The limitations of the current literature are explored.


Although there is limited empirical evidence to support or refute the efficacy of RSDT in schools, there remains substantial opposition to such programs, which may contribute to the paucity of empirical studies of RSDT.


Rigorous long-term evaluations are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of various versions of RSDT programs to prevent drug use and identify students in need of assistance to become and stay drug-free.