School drug policy isolates students

The school's policy on suspending substance abusers sequesters students who need a community.

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The school's policy on suspending substance abusers sequesters students who need a community.

Alec Roberson, Contributing Writer

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There is a fundamental problem with the way which our school attempts to combat drug use. Namely, the school attacks drug use on the individual scale with ineffective and harsh  consequences that do not rehabilitate the students who are caught using drugs. This may push students into situations where they are more likely to use, thus failing the students who need help.

Rule 1.2 of the Student Handbook highlights the school’s zero tolerance policy for the use, possession and distribution of alcohol and controlled substances during school or school-sponsored events. The school’s three-day minimum suspension policy makes drug users feel isolated.

The school might argue that giving drug users time to reflect helps to rehabilitate them, however, I would strongly disagree.

Many are aware of Bruce Alexander’s study on the effect of isolation and rats’ tendency to use opiates, and many have shown how these behaviors apply to humans. Generally, isolated people are more likely to turn to drugs. Instead of separating someone from the student body, an effective strategy would be to surround them with a community that could help to rehabilitate them.

Our school doesn’t only fail to help drug users but it may turn rehabilitated individuals back towards drugs.

Let us say there is a person who was caught using drugs in the past but this person no longer uses, even in a party situation. The school should want to reward this person for promoting a healthy attitude, but instead the rules end up punishing them because of one clause in our handbook that outlines the “Chemical  Health Policy” (II D. Section 1, Rule 1.2, The Policy).

The clause states that anyone caught outside of school in the presence of substances must attend counseling and face suspension from sports and performing arts. What is worse if that rehabilitated users or students with previous offenses, receive much more serious consequences, such as a disciplinary hearing with the headmaster.

This hypothetical person may serve as a perfect role model for the rest of the student body through the school’s eyes, but the student has now been banned from a vast amount of social events throughout high school.

Should the school really be making it harder for rehabilitated students to have a social life? To tie back to Alexander’s experiment, this rule actually ends up isolating the rehabilitated student, making it harder for them to resist drugs and alcohol, thus achieving the opposite of the school’s goal.

However, we must also call into question the quality of the school’s community and its ability to effectively rehabilitate a student.

As most students are probably aware, our student body promotes the unhealthy and excessive use of substances, which may compromise the ability for a student to stop using substances. Here you must ask the question: which is preferable, a community that may encourage the use of drugs or no community at all?

These, in my eyes, are some of the biggest problems facing our school in how the administration addresses drug use and abuse and how they try to combat it on the individual scale.

I do not have any perfect answers for the questions I have raised, but I do think that the rehabilitation of drug users should focus much more heavily on community instead of singling out the individual. When individuals are using drugs, it is not an individual problem. It is symptomatic of a larger problem in how we have shaped the community to approve of this behavior, which is something that we as students should work on changing.

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