Studies and Stats

To make the decision to implement next year’s Random Drug Testing program, the leadership team consulted many data-based studies done by federal and independent organizations.
One joint study performed by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance took seven years to survey 36 high schools in the South and surveyed 4,723 9th through 12th grade students. The scientists conducting the surveys were most interested in preventing drug use in high school. They found that the most effective way to do so was to combine RDT with continuing education.
When schools that had RDT were compared with control group schools, 16% of students subject to RDT reported using substances covered by their school’s RDT policy in the past 30 days, compared with 22% of comparable students in schools without RDT. While not a total deterrent, RDT does seem to make students, especially those involved in athletics and other extracurriculars, avoid drug use in high school.
The studies also suggest that student awareness of the possibility of RDT made a difference in student choices with 84% of students in schools with RDT programs stating that they were aware of the policy.
However, the studies acknowledged that 34% of students subject to RDT reported that they “definitely will” or “probably will” use substances in the next 12 months, compared with 33 percent of comparable students in schools without RDT.

Both this joint study and one commissioned by the National Institute of Health emphasized the implementation of other substance use prevention strategies.

The programs most recommended by NIH focus on three main skills, known as Life Skills Training: 1) Drug Resistance Skills enable young people to recognize and challenge common misconceptions about substance use, as well as deal with peer and media pressure to engage in substance use; 2) Personal Self-Management Skills help students to examine their self-image and its effects on behavior, set goals and keep track of personal progress, identify everyday decisions and how they may be influenced by others, analyze problem situations, and consider the consequences of alternative solutions before making decisions; and 3) General Social Skills give students the necessary skills to recognize that they have choices other than aggression or passivity when faced with tough situations.
According to NIH, one long-term study followed a cohort of predominantly White suburban students from seventh grade to the end of high school. Students who received LST were compared to controls six years after the intervention, and findings revealed these students had significantly lower rates than controls for use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and multiple drugs.
NIH also encouraged schools to practice normative education, helping teens understand that the overestimation of the prevalence of smoking, drinking, and the use of certain drugs, which can make substance use seem to be normative behavior is just that– an overestimation often facilitated by Instagram or Snapchat. Educating youth about actual rates of use, which are almost always lower than the perceived rates of use, can reduce perceptions regarding the social acceptability of drug use.