Mandatory Drug Testing in Schools

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated that in 1988, there were over 3 million illicit drug users over the age of 14, of which about 40% of the males and 35% of females reporting that they had tried an illicit drug at least once.1 Corroboration for these high rates of use among school students was also provided in a study conducted by the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria.2 With increased drug use, its harmful effects have become evident, resulting in an increase in drug overdose deaths in certain cases. For example, while there were only 70 recorded drug overdose deaths in 1979 (10.7 per million) while in 1995, the figure had jumped to 550 drug overdose deaths, which works out to 67 deaths per million.3 Drug use also poses other health risks, leading to drug-induced injuries, mental problems and diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV, which are caused by intravenous drug use. Adverse effects also result from drug dependency and addiction, while impacting adversely upon family and school life and leading to an increasingly criminal lifestyle.The economic cost of illicit drug use to society has been estimated to have jumped by 26% in the four year period from 1988 to 1992.4 Drug dependency may result in adolescents resorting to theft and robbery to finance the expensive habit, while those graduating from high school may find their employment prospects adversely affected due to drug-related defective work performance. Drug use affects familial and other relationships adversely, causing increasing isolation of a student who is using drugs or leading to an alarming increase in drug use and related problems among other students as well, as students share drugs and needles. The WHO has recognized four separate classifications of drug use patterns.