Pubdate: Mon, 04 Jan 2016
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2016 The Boston Herald, Inc
Note: Prints only very short LTEs.


Lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Baker will have a devil of a time 
negotiating a final bill to address the state's opiate addiction 
crisis, given that there are now three competing bills that 
contemplate varying levels of government intervention. One idea they 
shouldn't waste time with is the Senate proposal to require schools 
to screen kids as young as 12 about their drug use.

As we noted back in October, there is scant evidence to support the 
claim that having school officials interview adolescents about their 
drug use would reduce opiate addiction - which should be the goal of 
any bill. But it would add to the burden of local school districts.

The Senate version of the bill included a requirement that schools 
screen kids through a yet-to-be-developed "verbal screening tool." 
Results would be reported to the Department of Public Health (without 
identifying information).

But the legislation doesn't contemplate how DPH would use the data, 
which would be of questionable reliability.

And it offers no guidance to school officials about what to do if 
they run across a kid they suspect has a drug problem.

Those practicalities aside, there is no research to support the claim 
that mandating adolescent drug screening in schools would have an 
impact on the growing addiction and overdose problem in the commonwealth.

Bills offered by Baker and the House do not include the school 
screening measure. Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster), who backed 
the idea and fought for it on the floor of the Senate, suggested to 
the State House News Service last week that it could be added during debate.

But with all due respect it is feel-good filler. And with the crisis 
expanding the state simply can't afford to waste any time.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom