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Drug problems need to be addressed

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Students exchange money in the hallway.

Students exchange money in the hallway.

Students exchange money in the hallway.

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As the smell of marijuana permeates through the hall, everyone is looking around and texting their group chats—Who was the dumb person to hotbox in a school bathroom? It was a joke that went around the school for the day, just like every other time. But then, it was never spoken about again. Why? Because our school likes to keep ‘mistakes’ like that under wraps. Because beneath our perfect AP programs and ACT scores, there is a problem bigger than any of us: drugs.

This problem is extremely common in high schools; according to DrugFacts by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “among 12th graders, 6.0 percent continue to report daily use—that’s about 1 in 16 high school seniors. Among all grades, the perception of risk associated with smoking marijuana regularly continues to decline, with only 31.1 percent of 12th graders reporting that regular marijuana use is harmful compared to 58.3 percent in 2000.”

Statistics like that are something we often dismiss. We think that it is not our school they are talking about, that “West is Best.” We think there is no problem. That is just dismissing the issue that is very present at our school. Marijuana may not be the most dangerous drug that people do, but it can serve as a gateway drug. It may not kill you after one use, but it can be extremely dangerous if misused and can lead to addiction.

The stress of the grades makes kids do irrational things. Truth is, if you tested students during finals week, you would find that a surprising amount of kids have a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (more commonly called Adderall) in their systems. In an anonymous survey sent out to sophomores, juniors and seniors, out of 132 responses, 30 students responded saying they knew at least one person who did. Eight of those students said they knew 10 or more people who did. Forty three out of 132 said they had at least heard someone considering it. Seven students admitted to taking it. They buy this prescribed ADHD stimulant in pill form and take it because it is a guarantee to ‘stay up all night studying’ with few symptoms.

It could be classmate, your best friend or even your sibling.”

However, that is not the whole story about Adderall. Adderall has very harmful effects such as panic attacks or increased heart rates. If the person takes antidepressants, the effects can be even worse. According to Desert Hope treatment center, “Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are antidepressants, and the use of MAOIs with Adderall could cause effects that would not usually appear if either drug is taken alone. According to WebMD, the combination of these two types of substances could cause hallucinations, seizures, a faster heartbeat or an increase in blood pressure.”

It could be classmate, your best friend or even your sibling.

Sure, the drug problem is not just at our school, but the main issue I have is no one is talking about it. We have a few weeks of lessons in health class sophomore year that kids blow off. We need stricter policies and more discussion. If kids knew they would lose their privileges or get suspensions, maybe they would quit. Or at the very least, it would scare it off our campus.

I propose that we implement a new program in the district. Start at the middle school, we stop talking about how weed will ruin your life or how tobacco turns your lungs black. I propose instead that we give them an educational experience and then instead of making them research the harmful effects, we talk about how to avoid these experiences and have a good high school life without them. The program we have in place is good, but obviously not enough. I think if we changed it to more of a small group focus, where kids could ask honest questions, it would have more of an impact.

Next, we move to the high school, and create a program during the Common Ground hours, where students are allowed to talk about anything without getting in trouble. People could talk about their experiences, opinions and concerns with a trusted adult. We create a strict policy for drug use that creates severe punishments like loss of driving privilege and suspension. We should also have more regular screenings of lockers and cars. Finally, we should talk to the parents about this issue.

NIH reported that “5.6 percent [of 12th graders using inhalants] reported that they did not know what they were inhaling.” This is a horrifying detriment to our schools, and we need to start talking about it.

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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High
Drug problems need to be addressed