Drug Test Us All
In 1997, Mollala, Oregon became famous for free drug-testing of kids suspected by their parents of illegal drug use. Now, according to an Associated Press story (12-8-99), Oregon police organizations want to expand the free drug screen to ten additional cities.
Well, why not? I’m not opposed to drug tests—I want more of ‘em. I would like to see drug tests be administered to researchers, teachers, administrators, lawyers, judges and newspaper editors. In fact, I contend that it would be far more useful to direct drug prevention resources toward these and other special adult populations at high risk for alcohol and drug abuse.
Adult groups at risk include physicians, nurses, members of Congress, hot-shot pilots and astronauts, law enforcement officers, business executives and athletes. Despite abundant evidence showing these groups to be substance abuse prone, there is a conspiracy of silence about directing efforts toward preventing or minimizing alcohol and drug problems in these groups. Somehow it has become bad form and indelicate to articulate the obvious.
Physicians are, among professionals, especially vulnerable to alcohol and drug problems. This extraordinary susceptibility of physicians has been attributed to easy access to drugs and to pressures of the job.
The alcoholic excesses of Congressmen are legendary. Their public drunkenness is accepted as an occupational hazard. Esteemed senators and representatives have to be poured into their planes coming back from "fact-finding" junkets.
President Thomas Jefferson was painfully aware of this sort of problem.
Today Jefferson might also require every candidate for public office to pee in a bottle.
The business environment encourages all kinds of alcohol and drug abuse. Everywhere business executives go they are faced with the prospect of having to engage in ritualistic drinking or drug use as an anthropological display of cordiality and fellowship. In Portland, I once opened the menu of a motel restaurant catering to business conventions. The menu recommended, "Try a Beefeater Martini for breakfast".
Preoccupied with the specter of potential drug abuse in kids, we pussyfoot around the addiction-prone powerful and prestigious. What to do with adults at risk?
Shall we educate them? Shall we focus on their self–esteem? Shall we teach them coping skills? Shall we have another DARE program — DARE for members of powerful and prestigious adult high risk groups?
I have a better suggestion: Drug test us all.
If a case can be made that drug tests deter substance abuse in youth, then it is only logical to assume that drug testing will likewise prevent adult alcohol and drug abuse. Clearly we should direct our prevention efforts towards identifiable, influential adult groups at risk.
For example, physicians and nurses could be randomly tested for urinary drug metabolites either prior to an operation or following surgery. Medical personnel could also be required to take breathalyzer tests prior to going on duty in a hospital or clinic.
Judges should be required to take UAs before passing judgments. Probation officers and all city and state employees, including top administrative staff — governor and mayors included — should be tested routinely for drugs. (Please, I am not making any accusations, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.)
Legislators and city council members should take periodic UAs, and certainly take breath tests prior to voting. Legislation and ordinances are far too serious to be acted upon by lawmakers under the influence.
Some will object that these suggestions are not merely assaults on individual freedoms, but they are insulting. Exactly. But think about it. A gall bladder operation by a drug-free medical team or a sober vote on a property development would be just as important as, say, the shot put, the broad jump, or 100 yard dash.
Drug test us all! Only thus will we make significant inroads on adult alcohol and drug abuse.
And only thus can we avoid the flagrant continuation of adult hypocrisy and minimize the indiscriminate harassment of the young.
|Mark Worden has been involved
with alcohol and drug treatment issues since 1973. He has been published
in professional journals and has co-authored 6 books on recovery,
including Of Course You’re Angry. Taming
Your Turbulent Past is free on the the web.
Mark Worden lives in Roseburg OR. He will pee in a bottle if you will.
(Dr. Quark's NPL (Nuclear Powered Liver)