There are a lot of stereotypes that exist about teen drug use and, more specifically, abuse, whether in college, before or after it, or all of the above. Many people make assumptions about this demographic, but like most assumptions, they are founded on hearsay and fear rather than the facts. It’s important to know the truth of a situation to better understand it, particularly when there is both good and bad news.
The Ups and Downs of Recent Teen Drug Use
Substance use in high school may be a disturbing thought to some, but it hasn’t been uncommon in the past. Thankfully, there has been a downtrend in the teen drug use numbers: “According to the 2015 [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Monitoring the Future] survey, which queried close to 45,000 students in eighth, 10th and12th grades, drug use is either down or stable virtually across the board, tobacco use is plummeting, and underage drinking continues its decline.” So, what has contributed to this decline? How can it continue downward?
In part, the responsible party is education. Though many high schoolers may roll their eyes during what they view as lectures, they seem to be gaining a more solid understanding of how these substances are able to change their developing minds and bodies for the worse. Because it is being impressed upon young people more and more that they are “uniquely vulnerable,” teen drug use is beginning to appear more detrimental than appealing.
Many (at lest semi-) affluent adults in America are a part of a different, disturbing trend in which opiate use is spiking upward. Teenagers aren’t in this demographic, thankfully, and in fact the numbers for them are dropping, almost inversely proportionate to their older counterparts. Though the decline has been slow and steady, these small numbers have been adding up to make teen drug use, as it relates to opioids, at an encouraging new low. Hopefully, the older generation which is abusing these substances more than ever will follow suit.
Another positive note is the drop in use of “synthetic marijuana,” also known as a sometimes-dangerous combination of chemicals that are “easy to find” but potentially toxic. The facts report that there has been a “drop almost by half, from 8% in 2012 to 4.2% in 2015. The numbers are even more dramatic among high school seniors, going from 11.4% in 2011 to 5.2% in 2015.” Though each substance comes with its own threatening components, this particular choice is unpredictable because of its largely unknown content and it’s therefore a relief to see it less appealing re: teen drug use.
Unfortunately, there is always some bad to go with the good. In this case, one of the most prominent concerns revolves around the “trendy” e-cigarettes whose contents, like synthetic marijuana, are widely varied. High schoolers may not be smoking the traditional cigarette, but these vaporizers, which can still contain nicotine, are drawing in a larger crowd. While they may initially be attracted to the innocuous flavors that are offered, e-cigarettes “are currently unregulated,” which makes it difficult to say what exactly is being inhaled. One of the biggest problems with teen drug use is that the kids don’t actually know what it is they’re putting into their systems, and this is definitely the case with vaping. As if this wasn’t all enough to deal with, other complications include e-cigarettes leading teens to real cigarette use and even to other drugs or alcohol abuse.
The ignorance of the effects of these substances is perhaps the biggest danger to young people at present. For example, though marijuana use dropped last year, there have been reports that more teenagers actually believed it to be harmless. The reality is that there is a higher potential of risk for this demographic (“about 17% of users as opposed to 9% for the general population”) and, of course, marijuana can cause physical and mental damage in these people who are still growing.
It’s difficult to say what the “answer” is to the issue of teen drug use and abuse when it’s such a complicated situation. The optimism isn’t unfounded, however, and there are a lot of reasons to be hopeful. The best defense is continued education about the dangers of various substances, particularly about how they affect young people. Since this has been shown to work lately, it should be continued and improved upon as time goes on.
For more information about the facts of teen drug use or to get help for someone you care about, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
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About The Bergand Group:
At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehabilitation and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]