Increasing concern about the widespread use of psychoactive drugs has been accompanied by an increase in drug screening. Concerns about the potential harms of drug use are compounded in the pediatric population because of the diminished capacity of minors to make informed, autonomous decisions and the added possibilities of long-term effects in a developing person. The purpose of this statement is to clarify the issues and state the Academy's position on screening programs.
The abuse of psychoactive drugs among both adolescents and adults has been an issue of increasing national interest. Concerns have focused not only on the physiologic and behavioral impact of drug use upon the developing adolescent but also on the public health hazard that drug abusers may pose to others in the population.
In this statement the topic of illegal drugs (such as marijuana, cocaine, and narcotics) used for socalled "recreational" purposes, and some prescribed drugs (such as barbiturates and amphetamines) used for illicit purposes, is addressed. The focus of this statement is not on drug use in children and adolescents, which the Academy strenuously opposes but on proposals for involuntary screening for drug use, whether in schools, athletic programs, or the physician's office.
INVOLUNTARY VS VOLUNTARY SCREENING
True voluntary screening is an ambiguous concept in a population that is considered incompetent to consent. Therefore, there can only be voluntary screening among young people considered competent, such as many olden adolescents. However, it is not clear why such individuals would volunteer to be screened, because those who are using drugs will know who they are and presumably decline to be screened. Truly voluntary screening, therefore, is likely to miss detection of most drug users.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics