Vaping among teenagers has been a topic nation-wide recently, but people seem to have forgotten about the other, more dangerous drugs teens use. The high school itself is a decent example of this. Kids have been known to consume drugs such as marijuana, acid, alcohol, etc., and the classic “don’t do drugs” sentiment is proclaimed by administration, but we rarely delve into the topic on a deeper level. It’s rarely discussed why teenagers might be drawn to illegal substances.
We as a staff recognize that any prevalence of harder drugs, such as marijuana and acid, is incredibly harmful.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the effects of marijuana on the developing brain, under 25, are very detrimental, often causing lower testing scores and even impaired social functioning. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the long-time effects of acid are Persistent Psychosis and Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD), which can lead to the possibility of a stroke later on. These drugs shouldn’t be in our school, and we as a community need to discover the underlying reasons of why students use these drugs, in order to effectively stop them from affecting more of our peers.
A prominent reason that teenagers turn to drugs is the mass amounts of stress put on their shoulders. Especially in Lewis Center, it’s almost expected that students take multiple AP’s and get into a good college. Not to mention, the pressure that’s often put on students by parents amplifies this problem tenfold. If one doesn’t get almost all A’s, it can not only be a let-down of oneself, but a let-down of one’s parents, school, and academic environment. Students are put in a place where they’re taught that everything they do now will determine how their life turns out in the future. This causes extreme amounts of stress for students, and takes away the whole aspect of actually being a kid. In our minds as a staff, this can easily result in the use of substances that students feel will help calm them. When students are put in these high stress environments and they are given any drugs, it can be extremely hard to quit. As a community, students, parents and school staff need to find manageable ways for kids to handle stress.
Another reason why kids have turned to drugs is because of self-medication for mental disorders. Some of the students at our school that have been diagnosed with mental disorders aren’t treated properly, because some of their parents don’t think that medication is good for the students, or they don’t realize the reality of mental health issues. The stigma that mental health is not as important as physical health is truly detrimental to the entire young population, and especially the high school population. Just because a struggle isn’t plainly visible to the eye, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
The issue of drug use by teens is a complex problem, and it isn’t solvable by simply telling kids not to consume illegal substances. It’s imperative that the reasons behind drug-use are managed, so that teenagers don’t ever feel that drugs would be a reasonable solution to the issues they’re facing.