The Necessity of Drug Testing for High School Extracurricular Activities

Drug trafficking from foreign countries has been a major issue since even before the 40s. However, today’s world, especially teenagers, is heavily influenced by surrounding cartels around the globe. This issue has facilitated access to an endless list of illegal and lethal drugs which are commonly used by high school students. Oftentimes, high school athletes get away with drug use since many schools don’t bother to issue drug tests. As a result, many athletes gain an advantage over others by discreetly using performance-enhancing drugs without running the risk of being caught. Since some schools opt out of drug testing their students, the drug usage rate evidently increases dramatically because there is no punishment and a lack of attention to the issue. In order to avoid unjust advantages and improve the health of many students, drug tests on high school athletes should be a mandatory requirement.

Some high schoolers may believe that their requirement to submit to drug tests is overrated and rather unnecessary and time-consuming. However, the abstinence of testing for drug use in high schools is unquestionably harmful to the well-being of students since it fails to establish a sense of consequence to their wrongful actions and allows high school students to continue using drugs without punishment. In addition, there have been numerous amount of cases where the families of high school students suffer great losses due to the common issue of drug abuse. According to Karolina Karjalainen, most drivers driving under the influence of any drug is either killed in an accident or kill other innocent bystanders in one but nevertheless, drivers under the influence have some of the highest mortality rates. Whether it’s driving home drunk from a party, making unwise decisions while under the influence of hallucinogens or any other type of drug, or even simply being mentally absent; drugs take a toll on many high school lives. However, these unfortunate consequences can be avoided. If by law, high schools were required to issue out drug tests to their students involved in extracurricular activities, the majority of these students would steer clear of drug use. The mandatory drug testing would require the students to choose between being in the activity they have a passion for and having a so-called “good time”. This pressured ultimatum would force students to restrain themselves from drugs thus preventing unfortunate circumstances and even avoiding death.

Every school strives to ensure the safety and health of their students. Some even go to the extent of dedicating time to promote being drug-free and educating their students on the effects these drugs may have with “Be Drug-Free” campaigns. Without actually exercising drug abstinence and ensuring their students are truly “saying no to drugs”; however, these actions have a limited impact on high school students. In addition, drug testing high school students decrease the probability of being peer pressured into taking drugs since it serves as a motive to be “validly” excused to opt-out on drug use. A study conducted on a couple of tenth graders proved that their actions and behavior were heavily influenced by the behavior of the student’s peers in such a way that the peers’ background, or “street culture” as Anderson mentioned, such as drug use and alcohol consumption was evidently shown by the student. Furthermore, teenagers, often times athletes or members of an organization, fall into the temptation of wanting to impress their friends to “seem cool” and commonly end up under the influence of alcohol or start smoking. This issue can be easily resolved by issuing drug tests since it creates a window to resist the pressure other students apply on one another and excuses them to abstain from committing regretful actions.

Not only does drug testing high school students fulfill the schools’ responsibility in promoting safe and healthy environments, but it also many serious drug addictions start at a young age which is typical as a teenager. Consequently, the early detection of drug use can avoid future problems such as physical and mental addictions by providing time to intervene and aid the students with possible problems. Therefore, drug testing high schoolers play an enormous role on the paths of many students in leading them to a better and successful, drug-free, future. According to C. H. Ashton, studies have shown that heavy chronic cannabis users have a high probability of developing an amotivational syndrome and negatively affects their academic performance along with slower cognitive abilities and other symptoms to those of a benzodiazepine user. It is definitely far from rare to see high school students smoking cannabis, or marijuana typically to seemingly relieve stress. These students, however, run the risk of failing miserably. As mentioned by Ashton, cannabis slows down brain functionality which affects the students’ comprehension and academic learning. As a result, these students fail to have a variety of job opportunities regardless of their efforts to be employed and live an unsuccessful life when it could have been prematurely avoided by a simple high school drug test requirement.

Despite being a crucial benefactor, issuing drug tests can be expensive for some schools. Some parents and community members oppose issuing drug tests since they have to pay for legitimate doctors outside of school staff in order to avoid bias and have an honest drug test. Although the school board committees from multiple districts argue that drug tests for high school students in extracurricular activities are unnecessary and complain about the waste of funds the district would be undergoing to test their students, most schools have more than enough to afford the funding to issue drug tests. Statistics show that the vast majority of high schools are provided with an estimated $25,000 or more for sports and other extracurricular activities depending on the school size, yet most are spent on two or three sports while the schools can be focusing on the students’ welfare and ensuring their health. Despite the high levels of ignorance some stingy school districts have, many other school communities are benevolent enough to focus and prioritize the assurance of the health their high schoolers have. In addition, just like schools fundraise for trips and other events, fundraising for drug tests and the student's well-being is no different.

Although some schools find drug testing unnecessary, if drug testing for high school students were mandatory, the common issue bigger-sized schools face with athletes and performance-enhancing drugs would parish. It might not be noticeable in smaller schools such as 3A or 4A schools, except in 5A and 6A schools, where the level of each sport intensifies, it is common for sports players to try and have any possible advantage over the other team even if it means resulting in the consumption of steroids. The use of steroids in the high school level is alarming for two reasons: the athletes under the influence of steroids are proven to perform better than those competitors without steroids in their system; therefore creating a huge advantage point illegally, and because some college scouts are mistakenly drafting the wrong players since the performance enhancer elevates them to a higher performance level. In addition, not only does the use of steroids create discrepancies in the results at a competition or tournament, but also jeopardizes the student’s health and emotional stability. As Jerry F. Husak and Duncan J. Irschick mentioned in their article, some students may be unintentionally subjected into hormonal instability. Hormonal instability creates changes in sexual performance and negatively affects younger users by creating various uncomfortable mood swings and boosting the circulating levels of aggression, especially in men. Consequently, the aggression levels and unstable mind are unfortunately permanent for some teenage users if used too frequently. Not only does steroid consumption create emotional unstableness, but can also cause permanent health problems to some vital organs and even organ failure. An article from the Science News Letter mentions that one’s peptic ulcers, adrenal glands, and weight are heavily impacted by an overdose of steroids. These unthought-of circumstances were impulsively decided by immature high school teenagers who more than likely face personal problems as a result of their uncontrollable aggression. However, there is a simple solution to protect the health of students and avoid the extensive risks performance-enhancing drugs may have: mandatory drug testing. If these schools had a requirement to a drug test before participating in any extracurricular activities, students would likely avoid steroid consumption and steer clear of any chance they had of either overdosing or spinning in a mentally unstable environment.

In summation, Should mandatory drug testing be permitted for high school extracurricular activities? It is evident that mandatory drug testing for high school extracurricular programs should undoubtedly be permitted. In fact, due to the important roles, it plays in the lives of high school families and those surrounding them, mandatory drug testing should be enforced and even promoted by high school officials globally. Whether it may be as small as an excuse to opt-out drug usage or as big as determining the cuts for future college athletes and living a healthier lifestyle, drug testing is a crucial benefactor that should be enforced by high schools.

Works Cited

  1. Ashton, C. H. “Cannabis: Dangers And Possible Uses.” British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition), vol. 294, no. 6565, 1987, pp. 141–142. JSTOR,
  2. Gaviria, Alejandro, and Steven Raphael. “School-Based Peer Effects and Juvenile Behavior.” The Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 83, no. 2, 2001, pp. 257–268. JSTOR,
  3. Husak, Jerry F., and Duncan J. Irschick. “Steroid Use and Human Performance: Lessons for Integrative Biologists.” Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 49, no. 4, 2009, pp. 354–364. JSTOR,
  4. Jolley, L. F. “An Accounting System for High-School Organizations.” The School Review, vol. 31, no. 2, 1923, pp. 136–142. JSTOR,
  5. Karjalainen, Karolina, et al. “Mortality and Causes of Death among Drugged Drivers.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (1979-), vol. 64, no. 6, 2010, pp. 506–512. JSTOR,
07 July 2022
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