IT TOOK A CRISIS TO CREATE A CHANGE

By Roger Morgan, Take Back America Program.

In 1998, De La Salle, a Catholic school in New Orleans, was rumored to
have a drug problem. Some in the city had nicknamed the school “De La
Drugs,” and the problem was eroding the quality of education and
threatening young lives. Fortunately, the school had a Head Mistress and
Principal named Yvonne Gelpi who had the courage, wisdom and will to
deal with the problem head on.

With the assistance of her administration, Ms Gelpi proposed a hair testing
program with a company named Psychemedics. Hair has a 90 day window
of detection and it is difficult, if not impossible, to cheat the test. She
initially met with the faculty, informing them that if students were to be
tested it was only fair that faculty and administration be tested as well.
Next she met with parents in an open forum, expecting 50 parents, and surprised when 250 showed up.

After the session, she got a standing ovation from the parents. Next, she held student assemblies and informed them of the hair testing policy, which would be implemented when they returned to school in the fall after summer vacation. If they were using drugs,
they had fair warning to stop. No harm, no foul. On the first round of tests, out of a student body of 700 students, 33 kids tested positive. The parents were brought in with the student and informed of the result. There was no penalty enforced by the school, only a
reminder that if a second positive occurred any time during their school tenure, they would be asked to leave the school. Counseling was suggested as an option but at the parent’s direction. The second round three months later only produced 3 positives. Today, almost 15 years later, the program still exists, but the drug problem is gone.

Says Ms Gelpi, “…Drug testing changed the school environment overnight. We had a 60% reduction in detentions for fighting; 82% reduction in detentions for disruptive behavior; and drug dealers no longer hung around the outskirts of the campus. The intent was to be as non-punitive as possible; to get drugs out of the school, not the kids.” Ms Gelpi not only enhanced the education at De La Salle, she saved a lot of young lives, not only at her school, but in many others that followed suit.

Private schools have an advantage when it comes to drug testing, as they can make it a criteria for admission. But public schools do not have to be deprived. A 2002 Supreme Court decision (Board of Education vs Earls, No.01-332) allowed random drug testing for sports and extra curricular activities, and suspicion based testing is legal for all students, and highly recommended.

The reason most students experiment with drugs is due to peer pressure. A voluntary program for parents and kids who sign up, backed with suspicion-based testing at school, eliminates this pressure and gives them an excuse not to experiment. Research has shown the biggest reason kids do not use drugs is fear their parents will find out. The accuracy and 90 day window of detection for hair testing has proven to be the best deterrent to keep kids off drugs, and for early identification of kids who have a problem so they can
get help.

If schools establish a policy that they will hair test any child that shows cause for concern they could experience the same overnight result as De La Salle. Test results can be confidential between the schools and parents, with the consequences for the 1st, 2nd and subsequent positive tests well defined so that kids learn to be accountable for their own actions. Parents pay $59 per test, so little or no financial burden for the school. Testing once during a school year on a random basis is normally sufficient to deter drug use.
Academic achievement and discipline aside, teens are 6 times more susceptible to addiction than adults. Screening will improve the school environment while saving many young people from addiction

DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION IS NO LONGER AN OPTION

By Roger Morgan, Take Back America Campaign
Drug abuse is a preventable disease, if we do what works to prevent it. And, prevent it we must, or accept our fate as a nation in decline. Addiction is a health problem, called a pediatric onset disease, because it almost always starts with kids. To prevent society’s drug problem, we must take action to protect kids; to deter the onset of the disease until they reach adulthood and their bodies and brains are less vulnerable.

The annual economic cost of our neglect is over $1 trillion, 600,000 deaths a year and over 23 million Americans enslaved by addiction to drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are the root cause of almost all of our social and economic problems. Observe:

• Law Enforcement – More crime and less resources to fight it. Over 80% of violent crimes are committed under the influence of drugs or alcohol; 70-87% of arrestees test positive for drugs. 66% of prisoners are addicts, 33% mentally ill. America has 5% of the world’s population and consumes 66% of the world’s illicit drugs. We house 25% of the world’s prisoners. We have almost 1,000,000 gang members in America, many affiliated with the drug cartels. On average, addicts commit 100 crimes a year.

• Health Problems – According to CASA (Columbia University) substance abuse accounts for 72 major diseases requiring hospitalization, with a related cost of $700 billion a year. Roughly 3,600 Americans die monthly of drug overdose, almost all of whom started their drug journey with marijuana. Marijuana, being fraudulently touted as medicine, is a major cause of brain damage, birth defects and addiction, aside from numerous other deleterious effects. Marijuana doesn’t kill by overdose, but it is a
gateway leading to the use of other drugs that do, such as heroin, which is on the rise nationally.

• Mental Illness – Drugs and alcohol are a major causal factor in psychosis. Marijuana use during adolescence can cause schizophrenia, paranoia, suicidal depression and PERMANENT brain damage. Mentally ill people in California jails and prisons has grown from 19-25% in 5 years. Since there aren’t adequate beds for them in mental illness facilities, they often remain in jail for 3 to 6 months.

• Education – America has slipped to 24th in the world academically, and in decline. Nationally, one-third of students are high school drop outs. According to UC Santa Barbara research, the average cost of a high school drop out over their life span is $386,000. Drugs and alcohol play a major role in truancy, violence, teen pregnancies sexually transmitted disease and traffic fatalities. Marijuana particularly impairs
one’s ability to absorb and retain knowledge, stifles motivation and retards the maturation process.

• Welfare – Addicts can’t work, or work effectively, so they burden the welfare roles. As addiction further cripples their brains, many end up “permanently disabled” and thereafter become a burden until death on all aspects of public service. Unable to care for their offspring, over 6 million children end up being raised by grandparents or in foster homes.

• Traffic Safety – Drugs alone account for 37% of injury accidents. A 20 year study in New Zealand verified that smoking marijuana doubles the risk of an injury accident. A California study (Crancer) showed that traffic fatalities caused by marijuana impairment doubled from 2004 to 2009 owing to the proliferation of marijuana use.

In California, substance abuse absorbs 20% of the State budget. If we didn’t have to spend $16-$20 billion shoveling up the damage and treating the addicted, we would have more resources for schools, more teachers, less crime, more law enforcement, more firemen, et al, and maybe even a balanced budget without raising taxes. The answer is to prevent the problem where it starts, with kids … average age 13.