Recreational Drug Testing of High School Athletes, Yes or No?

To clarify, this “recreational drug testing” I refer to in my title goes well beyond the illegal performance-enhancing drugs I normally discuss. It would include ALL substances that a good number of teens today use to get high; alcohol, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, prescription and nonprescription drugs, and/or anything else that kids are “using” and can be tested for.

That’s the message in Dr. Keith Ablow’s article Should High School Athletes Be Tested for Drug Use? at published in late October, a piece that makes no mistake regarding Dr. Ablow’s take on the subject.

And the group our doctor singles out first for such testing, high school athletes. Why pick on the athletes? According to Dr. Ablow:

The reason for selecting athletes (to start) is that, in anticipating opposition from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, I believe the case can be made that the potential for head injuries and other injuries in competitive sports argues that athletes comprise a special, at-risk population; athletes on drugs are athletes who can get badly hurt, or hurt others. In addition, participation in such sports is entirely voluntary. Anyone who wishes not to be drug tested would have the option of not participating in them.

He goes on to state:

The benefits are obvious: We would be making a dent in drug use in our public schools. Doctors and parents would be alerted to drug use in their children. Parents could then choose whether to tie further participation in team sports to their kids getting help and getting clean. And we would be making a statement about what it takes to be a team player, do one’s best, respect one’s body and really “show up” to compete.

Oh, and Dr. Ablow does not stop with just athletes as he encourages all coaches working with these young individuals to do the same, making known their test results to the budding competitors under their direction.

And for those of you who believe that the cost of such a program, which should be passed on to the participants (being done at their annual physical), is too much; I would say that not doing so has been far more costly.

Great piece, Doc. Keep up the good work!!!

Leave a comment