Teenage Drug Abuse Reveals the Inadequacy of Drug Education Outreach

teen smoking marijuana in a pipe

There are some signs of improvement in recent surveys of teenage drug abuse, but those improvements are offset by areas in which the situation is worse. When the situation is viewed as a whole, what is obvious is that our young people are not getting the message that drug use is destructive.

For example, alcohol abuse by teens is down. But marijuana and ecstasy abuse are higher, in fact, marijuana use has been increasing for the last four years straight.

The latest news shows one specific teenage drug abuse statistic that is even more shocking. A new survey has found that nearly one in ten teenagers in the US is a heavy marijuana smoker, meaning that the person uses the drug on 20 or more occasions each month. Earlier surveys on this subject showed far fewer teens being heavy users.

It is just possible that teens are affected by the medicalization of marijuana that has swept across sixteen states. Does the average teenager decide that marijuana must be harmless because doctors prescribe it for sick people? For teenage drug abuse to be based on this conclusion would not be surprising.

What is a problem is that teens understand so little about the effects of abusing marijuana. This can only mean that there is not enough education for teens on the actual effects they can suffer if they use this or any other drug.

For example, with marijuana, young people can lose the ability to think clearly or to focus on the task at hand, to learn or to remember what was learned. It can cause short-term memory loss and depression. At the time of their lives they should be learning and setting goals to achieve, teens may instead be short-changing themselves.

Other Survey Shows that Prescription Drug Abuse Holds Steady

It might be possible to spin steady prescription drug abuse statistics as good news but in fact, it means that too many young people are abusing prescription drugs. Drugs like OxyContin, hydrocodone, Xanax and Valium have the ability to cause overdose deaths or withdrawal symptoms like life-threatening seizures.

In all, half of high school seniors have tried an illicit drug by the time they graduate. In college, entirely new challenges present themselves. College campuses are fertile grounds for substance abuse. Fraternities and sororities still have alcohol-fueled parties, despite the number of colleges that try to regulate or outlaw the practice, and prescription stimulants are widely used on many campuses as enhancements to the ability to stay awake long hours and cram for tests.

But every one of the drugs mentioned so far is addictive and can land a person in a drug rehab center. Even marijuana, thought by some to not be addictive, sends more than a hundred thousand youth between the ages of 12 and 17 to rehab each year. More than 200,000 are 25 or younger.

Narconon Drug and Alcohol treatment Can Help Correct the Trend

Around the world, there are dozens of Narconon drug rehab centers that help those who have gotten on the wrong track come all the way back. The Narconon program is a long-term residential program that addresses all aspects of addiction.

In most centers, there are also drug educators who go out to schools, clubs and civic groups in their areas and educate young people on the real results of drug abuse. Giving kids the facts has proven effective in helping them make up their own minds to stay sober.


Resources:

http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/state_data/US09.pdf

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57425725/study-teen-marijuana-use-on-the-rise/

AUTHOR

Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.