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Research Findings

Research on Random Student Drug Testing

Reports from schools receiving Federal grants for drug testing programs give encouraging indications that this strategy can be valuable in the effort to curb student drug use. Its effectiveness as a deterrent has also been shown in other areas where drug testing is performed, such as the U.S. Military and in the workplace. In the more than 25 years since the Department of Defense began testing service members for drugs, positive use rates have dropped from nearly 30 percent to less than 2 percent. And according to the Division of Workplace Programs, drug-use positives in the U.S. Workforce have plunged from 18 percent in 1987 to 4 percent in 2006.

Examples such as these lend strong support to the argument that drug testing is a useful and powerful drug-prevention tool. Common sense provides still further support. For example, a student naturally is going to think twice about using marijuana on Saturday night if there's a chance he or she may be randomly selected for a drug test on Monday.

Drug testing in schools shows great promise as a way to fight student substance abuse. And yet, however obvious the deterrent effect may appear, the fact remains that drug testing is still in its infancy, having been made available to all schools only within the past few years. More time and more data will show that the perceived benefits of testing are real and verifiable. Anecdotal evidence may suggest a link between drug testing and reduced drug use, but rigorous, carefully designed studies that look at testing programs among large target populations over the span of many years will provide the proof.

Below are links to important studies that have been done to date. Their number is sure to grow as more schools adopt drug testing and researchers continue to examine the results. When new findings become available, they will be posted on this site.

Supporting Research

The Effectiveness and Legality of Random Student Drug Testing Programs Revisited (PDF)
A follow-up study of high schools in Indiana offers further evidence of something educators and substance-abuse experts have known for years: drug testing works.

Elements of a Successful School-Based Student Drug Testing Program (PDF)
A 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Education describes random drug-testing programs at nine high schools across the country. Prepared by the Institute for Behavior and Health, the report provides highlights of variations found in the schools' experiences.

SATURN study
A survey of student athletes in Oregon underscores the preventative power of drug testing. As part of the Student Athlete Testing Using Random Notification (SATURN) study, researchers compared rates of drug use among student athletes at one Oregon high school with those at another Oregon school that did not have a testing policy. Note: This study is only available to subscribers of Pubmed Medline.