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AAP Opposes In School Drug Testing Due to Lack of Evidence

​Drug testing can be useful for pediatricians and other health care providers to assess substance use or mental health disorders in adolescents, but random drug testing in schools is a controversial approach not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

In an updated policy statement and technical report, “Adolescent Drug Testing Policies in Schools,” in the April 2015 Pediatrics (published online March 30), the AAP encourages and supports the efforts of schools to identify and address student substance abuse, but recommends against the use of school-based drug testing programs, often called suspicionless or random drug testing.

Proponents of random drug testing refer to potential advantages such as students avoiding drug use because of the negative consequences associated with having a positive drug test results, while opponents of random drug testing agree that the disadvantages are much greater, and can include deterioration in the student-school relationship, confidentiality of students’ medical records, and mistakes in interpreting drug tests that can result in false-positive results.

The AAP recommends against the use of school-based drug testing programs because of limited evidence of efficacy and potential risks associated with this procedure. Pediatricians support the development of effective substance abuse services in schools, along with appropriate referral policies in place for adolescents struggling with substance abuse disorders.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.