Date of Conferral







Kathleen Brewer


The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study was to examine recovering substance

abusers' perceptions about the usefulness of mandatory drug testing in schools for adolescent substance abuse. Illegal substance abuse has reached epidemic proportions as more than half of U.S. adolescents, aged 12 to 17 years, have engaged in illicit drug use. Substance abuse information has been a part of school health education programs since the United States Drug Free Schools and Communities Act of 1986. Despite substance abuse education and school programs about the effects of drug use, many high school students abuse illicit drugs. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 17 recovering substance abusers between the ages of 24 to 58 years who were at least 3 years substance free. Participants were voluntarily recruited from Narcotics Anonymous locations in Central Pennsylvania using purposeful sampling techniques. Guided by Pender's health promotion model, data were analyzed by coding techniques using direct quotations from the participants to identify common themes. A majority of the participants reported initiating illicit substances during adolescence. Also, participants stated that mandatory drug testing in school would have prevented or postponed their substance use. Most of the participants reported mandatory drug testing in school as an effective drug prevention method, or in combination with other methods. These findings may inform school districts and health care providers about the effects of mandatory drug testing and additional substance abuse prevention methods in schools for adolescents in Central Pennsylvania. The results can also be used to influence state and national school substance abuse policies in Pennsylvania and across the United States.