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Keywords:

  • Adolescents;
  • drug tests;
  • prevention;
  • school-based programs;
  • students

Abstract

Aim

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.

Method

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.

Findings

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.

Conclusions

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.