Pubdate: Fri,  5 Jul 2002
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2002, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: Nicolas Eyle
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


To the Editor:

It may be constitutional to drug-test kids who want to participate in 
extra-curricular activities. But it's a very bad idea. The one thing proven 
to help kids get through adolescence while minimizing their chances of 
abusing drugs is extra-curricular, after-school programs. A drug-testing 
policy and the zero-tolerance policies that frequently accompany it 
actually work to place our children in harm's way.

Drug testing is really marijuana testing. That is the only drug that stays 
in the body long enough to be regularly detected in a urine test. It is 
also the safest of the illegal drugs. Teens who wish to experiment with 
drugs will simply experiment with the much-harder-to-detect, more-dangerous 
drugs such as meth, cocaine or heroin. Suppose your honor-roll grandchild 
is healthy, happy, well-adjusted and bright. Would you be grateful to learn 
that he or she just got kicked out of the chess club for testing positive 
for cannabis? Would you be grateful to learn that, having been kicked out 
of the chess club, they have switched to cocaine and poker?

Studies show overwhelmingly that the vast majority of teen drug use is 
sporadic, experimental and non-problematic, and that most teens "mature 
out" of their drug-taking phase. Brand them as "druggies," however, kick 
them out of the band or swim team or chess club, and you've stigmatized 
them for years to come, affected their chances of getting into college - 
and you've now opened up all those afternoons for them to hang out and do 

There is absolutely no evidence that drug testing works. We think it 
should, but it doesn't. We should rely on evidence-based programs in our 
schools, not feel-good programs. The painful failure of all those years of 
un-tested, feel-good programs like DARE is obvious. If they worked, why 
would we feel the need to drug test?

The new study from the Centers for Disease Control, "The 2001 Youth Risk 
Behavior Surveillance Report," released last week, shows that marijuana use 
among youth has dropped slightly over the past 10 years, while cocaine use 
has doubled. We all have read about Ecstasy use being off the charts.

As a parent, I cannot make myself look to the same sources that for the 
past 25 years have been giving me wrong information about how to protect my 
child from drugs. Isn't it time for parents to question the so-called 
"experts"? Isn't it time to demand evidence that these programs actually work?

Nicolas Eyle,

Executive Director, ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy, Syracuse, NY
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