-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Jan. 13, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- School drug tests
don't deter teens from smoking marijuana, but creating a positive
school environment might be effective, a new study suggests.
About 20 percent of U.S. high schools have drug testing, but
this approach is controversial because there's little evidence that
it works, the study authors said.
Of the 361 students in the new study, one-third went to schools
that had a drug-testing policy. The researchers followed the
students for a year and found that those in schools with drug
testing were no less likely than other students to try marijuana,
cigarettes or alcohol.
The findings are published in the January issue of the
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
"Even though drug testing sounds good, based on the science, it's not working," study author Daniel Romer, of the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center, said in a journal news release.
The students in the study were also asked about their school
environment. Schools considered to have a positive environment had
clear rules, and teachers and students treated each other with
respect, the investigators found.
During the year of follow-up, students in schools with positive
environments were about 20 percent less likely to try marijuana and
15 percent less likely to smoke cigarettes, compared to students in
However, a positive school environment did not seem to reduce
the risk of student drinking. This may be due to the fact that
drinking is considered more normal than drug use or smoking, Romer
"The whole culture uses alcohol," he said in the news release. "And you're fighting something that has widespread marketing behind it."
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about
drug testing in schools.
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