Drug testing strategies are failing

Anti-drug campaigns such as the one above have no done enough to stop drug use.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Anti-drug campaigns such as the one above have no done enough to stop drug use.

by Ann Butler, Staff Writer

In the past few years, our school rating has gone down as reported drug use has gone up. There have been somewhere from 20-40 accusations of drug use in school this year, which is an unprecedented number for Glen Rock. Because of this, the pressure has been on everyone — administration, teachers and students — to curb this before it spins any farther out of control.

This is scary for a number of reasons. Administration has an obvious responsibility to maintain a drug-free campus because, aside from the impact it has on the learning environment, the drug use being talked about is, like, so illegal.

That being said, as a student who is uninvolved with drug use, I am frustrated by the environment in school of late created by how this drug situation has been dealt with. I, like many students, have no involvement in or insider knowledge of this drug use, so while I understand the sentiment the buzz phrase “drug use impacts all of us,” my contemporaries and I should not be punished for the illicit actions of the few.

In an effort to control the smoking and vaping in the bathrooms, they are locked randomly and without warning. The issue with this is pretty obvious. When someone wants to use the bathroom as a bathroom instead of as a hotbox, it can take a while to locate one that’s unlocked. In the classes that don’t normally allow students to use the bathroom, every minute counts to avoid being reprimanded in front of the class. The teachers are right in this case though, because they don’t know whether their student took a walk to get out of class or if the bathroom was locked.

Locking bathrooms hardly stops drug use. If someone wants to smoke in the bathroom, he or she can still go to any unlocked bathroom. If, as it has been alluded to, the intention is to concentrate the foot traffic in the bathrooms to raise the likelihood of use being reported, that puts undue pressure on the clean students to sacrifice social standing in favor of helping administration.

The fact of the matter is this: if students have to choose between their classmates and the administration, by and large, they will side with their classmates. An easy way to prevent that rift between administration and the student body is to not ask the “good kids” to make that choice. Distrust in administration is very high, and now more than ever, they can’t afford to lose the confidence of any more of the student body.

Of course drug use is difficult to monitor outside of the standard guess-and-check style testing that has been put into place recently, but this too is not the way to handle this situation. Teachers now are feeling so much pressure to be vigilant that many students have been falsely accused for their routine behaviors. A student with a breath mint was accused of smelling like alcohol, and a student who fell asleep in class has been accused several times of being under the influence of marijuana. Things like these are normal, but, with the new environment teachers are made to work in, drug control has turned into a witch hunt.

Reporting students because of suspicion, of course, opens up the door to profiling and personal bias, but if any part of this quagmire is unavoidable, perhaps it’s that. Something that would certainly help with accuracy would be real training for teachers to pick out drug use. Currently, teachers have to take an online seminar before teaching The program goes through warning signs such as pupil dilation and irregular behavior. While this helps teachers have a better idea of what drug use looks like, the program relies on personal knowledge of real world things like smell. This is an unreliable way to watch for use because many reports made are based on smell.

The bottom line is that students are unresponsive to the current strategies of policing drugs. We know the risks and consequences, but every threat made by administration just feels like another scare tactic. Here’s the problem: we aren’t afraid anymore.