The National School Boards Assn. urged schools Wednesday to take a more active role in identifying alcohol and drug abusers and in developing programs to help those students.
In a 60-page report, the association suggested that schools designate at least one person--such as the school nurse or a specially hired drug counselor--to serve as an adviser and liaison among students, teachers, parents and outside treatment programs.
It also recommended that schools develop policies on substance abuse and teach students, beginning in kindergarten, about the effects of drugs and alcohol and how to avoid peer pressure to use them.
The association said education programs should start with simple explanations in early grades and get more detailed in later grades.
"While this problem of drug and alcohol abuse shouldn't be imposed on school systems--schools weren't created to deal with social problems--this problem does affect education," association President Leonard Rovins said.
Rovins said substance abuse can affect students' ability to learn and can cause problems ranging from chronic truancy and falling grades to family violence and suicide.