BHS drug and alcohol policies: useful or useless?

BHS uses the breathalyzer and drug/alcohol policies to prevent accidents involving substances
BHS uses the breathalyzer and drug/alcohol policies to prevent accidents involving substances
Ella Patel

Should Bernards High School rethink the drug and alcohol protocols and punishments currently in place? Though it may be a controversial opinion amongst the student body, the procedures in place against substance abuse are beneficial in minimizing the usage of drugs and alcohol during school and school related events.

Unlike other high schools, BHS has more advanced protocols against the use of substances. These include breathalyzers at football games, bathroom monitors, vape detectors, and locked bathrooms. 92% of 80 students who were surveyed reported the breathalyzers having a positive impact on decreasing partying before football games.

“Our use of breathalyzers and vape detectors has helped us deter the use of alcohol and nicotine at school and school sponsored events,” said Dr. Neigel, “our goal is to identify students who might need additional help and support with substance use, and to help them get the appropriate level of support.”

BHS takes the extra measures necessary to ensure the safety and well being of the students. Brooke Meyers, a senior at Somerville High School, mentions that drug testings only apply to sports teams and that is only if a player is caught in possession of substances. Meyers also mentions how students do not get breathalyzed at sporting events, but do still have vape detectors in the bathrooms.

With that being said, some modifications could be made to the system. About half of the students surveyed said that even with the vape detectors being installed, they have still seen vaping in the bathrooms. “I don’t think that they work all the time but when they do I’d say they’re good,” said Erik Annette ‘26. Many students commented similarly, addressing their skepticism about the detectors being effective.

“The district should utilize some of its efforts targeting drug use for assistance rather than punishment,” said Aiden Kinsley ‘25, “I know individuals who may not otherwise have the medical or financial resources to recover from addiction but can’t or won’t go to the administration out of fear of discipline.”

Students feel as though the administration should make a greater effort to stress the protocols in place to help, rather than the punishment that comes with being in possession of substances. Some students may want to seek help but are worried about facing disciplinary action such as suspension or being benched from sports.

If a student participates in a sport or club, they are placed in the pool for the random drug and alcohol screening. Random drug testing may be effective in figuring out who abuses substances, but there should be a better system that limits the amount of times a student can be screened while consistently testing negative.

“I don’t think it was intentional, but it was impractical. When I got called [to participate in random drug testing] for the 3rd time, I didn’t see the point in being tested again,” said Emma Swope ‘24.

Swope tested negative for all of the drug tests she participated in, but was still drawn 3 separate times. She was drawn once in her sophomore year and twice in her junior year. Though the names are drawn randomly, it does not make sense for the same person, who has not shown any prior evidence of substance abuse, to be drawn 3 times, twice in 1 year.

Many students are frustrated with the fact that most of the bathrooms are locked. “I think the bathrooms, especially the ones that are commonly used, shouldn’t be locked because it is time consuming to walk all the way to the other side of the school just to go to the bathroom,” said Elizabeth Chen ‘26, “it’s annoying that the bathrooms are locked because some people in our school vape.”

It is an annoyance to have to hike halfway across the school in order to find an open bathroom; Of course, vaping is still a cause for why the bathroom remains locked, but it is not the only reason. Another significant reason for the bathrooms being locked is due to loitering and vandalization.

Dr. Neigel said, “most high schools do not unlock all bathrooms during the school day as they experience similar issues,” going to show that the choices for locking bathrooms are also made at other schools, not solely Bernards High School.

Although the bathrooms are locked for a rational reason, it is still impractical for there to only be two bathrooms that are consistently unlocked for the majority of the day; a third bathroom unlocked for the duration of the lunch period.

The drug and alcohol policies are implemented to help students, but some procedures could be amended.

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