University researchers have concluded that drug tests given in secondary schools nationwide do not deter student drug use.
A study done by the Institute for Social Research revealed that recreational drugs such as marijuana are used as often in testing schools as non-testing schools.
“It suggests that there really isn’t an impact from testing as practiced,” said Lloyd Johnston, a researcher from the ISR.
The study, conducted from 1998 to 2001, was combined with a follow-up study in 2002 that produced identical results. Researchers focused on student athletes, the second most commonly tested group of students behind problem students.
Drug deterrence via drug testing is a policy that 19 percent of schools practice. Ann Arbor area high schools, such as Pioneer, are among the 81 percent that do not require their students, even their athletes, to submit to testing.
Pioneer’s Athletic Director Lorin Cartwright said her department has never considered testing their athletes. “(Recreational drugs) are a concern among the general student population.” She added, “What we do find is that kids who participate in athletics are less likely to use those substances because they are not performance-enhancing types of drugs.”
Cartwright and the PHS athletic department get help from coaches, as well as the athletes themselves in controlling drug use. “It’s respect between the players and yourself and your coach – trust,” PHS junior and women’s soccer player Maria Porta said.
“There is definitely a lot of drug use in high school. If you do it, then you’ll get kicked off the team,” she added.
Teammate and PHS freshman Christie Zelnick said, “With the athletes, as far as the soccer players, it’s not a problem at all. As far as drugs like marijuana, no one really does that, especially during the season.”
Team unity as a drug deterrent is a universal sentiment on Pioneer’s campus, senior and men’s tennis captain John Seyferth said. “I think that in general the only way (recreational drug use) is going to be policed is through your teammates, and what’s going on there in terms of leadership. That will be the true deterrent, not the parents, not the coach.”
Although most secondary schools nationwide do not administer drug tests, former high school athletes at the University voice concern over the relationship between high school student athletes and recreational drug use.
“It was a problem. I’m from Detroit public schools and I don’t think they stressed it as much as they should have,” LSA junior and men’s track team member Rondell Ruff said.
LSA senior and fellow runner from the women’s team Rachel Sturtz added, “Granted I was restricted to running, and with running you can’t smoke anything and try and run, but I think there is always going to be a problem with high school.”
The University does not have the freedom that high schools like Pioneer have when it comes to testing their athletes.
Required testing will continue among University athletes, but Kinesiology sophomore and men’s track athlete Adam Kring believes drugs are not a serious problem.
“Usually, if you’re honestly good enough to be a Division I athlete then you don’t want to tinker in that stuff because you can really wreck your life,” Kring said.
This opinion was echoed by fellow Kinesiology sophomore and ice hockey forward Jeff Tambellini, who believes the required testing by the NCAA is an effective deterrent to recreational drug use among student athletes.
“We are still subject to that random drug test, which really takes away a lot of people’s incentive to go above the water and try and test that,” Tambellini added.