Study: Teen drug use at school getting worse

Filed under: Teens, Alcohol & Drugs, Day Care & Education

Back when I was in high school, drug use at my school was common. We had a school-sanctioned smoking area for students, located in a courtyard between two wings of the school. Few students were actually old enough to legally smoke, yet hundreds gathered in this area between classes each day for a quick nicotine fix. But they weren't just smoking cigarettes out there - amid the smells of tobacco, the odor of marijuana was unmistakable. Teachers routinely walked through this area and said and did nothing about it. Even then, I thought it was crazy that they allowed this to happen.

According to a new survey by Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, things haven't changed all that much in American high schools. I doubt schools offer smoking areas these days, but kids are still doing drugs at school. 61 percent of teens say they attend high schools with drug problems and four out of five say they have actually witnessed the use, sale or possession of illegal drugs or seen someone drunk or high at school.

What has changed since my high school days is that drug use seems to be connected to popularity now. The survey found that students who consider themselves to be popular were more likely to use drugs, drink or smoke than those who didn't see themselves as popular. Back in my day, the drug users were outcasts, derisively referred to as 'heads'.

What's worse is the finding that six out of ten parents of kids who attend schools with a drug problem believe the goal of making their school drug-free is impossible. Ellie is beginning her first year in public school next week and this sort of news disturbs me. If, as the researchers say, "drug use at school has become a commonplace experience for teens" and that parents have effectively given up, what can possibly be done about it?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.