The role of schools in combating illicit substance abuse

Barbara Frankowski, Rani Gereige, Linda Grant, Daniel Hyman, Harold Magalnick, Cynthia J. Mears, George Monteverdi, Robert D. Murray, Evan Pattishall, Michelle Roland, Thomas L. Young, Howard Taras, Spencer Su Li, Alain Joffe, Marylou Behnke, John R. Knight, Patricia Kokotailo, Tammy Harris Sims, Janet F. Williams, Ed JacobsKaren Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Disturbingly high levels of illicit drug use remain a problem among American teenagers. As the physical, social, and psychological "home away from home" for most youth, schools naturally assume a primary role in substance abuse education, prevention, and early identification. However, the use of random drug testing on students as a component of drug prevention programs requires additional, more rigorous scientific evaluation. Widespread implementation should await the result of ongoing studies to address the effectiveness of testing and evaluate possible inadvertent harm. If drug testing on students is conducted, it should never be implemented in isolation. A comprehensive assessment and therapeutic management program for the student who tests positive should be in place before any testing is performed. Schools have the opportunity to work with parents, health care professionals, and community officials to use programs with proven effectiveness, to identify students who show behavioral risks for drug-related problems, and to make referrals to a student's medical home. When use of an illicit substance is detected, schools can foster relationships with established health care experts to assist them. A student undergoing individualized intervention for using illicit substances merits privacy. This requires that awareness of the student's situation be limited to parents, the student's physician, and only those designated school health officials with a need to know. For the purposes of this statement, alcohol, tobacco, and inhalants are not addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1379-1384
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Drug
  • Drug screens
  • School health
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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