Drug Abuse in High-Schools

Posted in Drug Addiction

In the public health campaign against drug abuse, one of the most important places to succeed may be high schools. The choices made and experiences gained in adolescence can set patterns which persist for a lifetime. Unfortunately, many young people in Atlanta spend much of this crucial time surrounded by drug abuse.

The High School Drug Scene

Some of the drugs which are commonly abused in high schools today might be familiar to students’ parents while others might be completely unknown. Preferences and availability of specific substances change over time.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia) conducts an annual survey of students to better understand their abuse of and contact with drugs. Marijuana, a preferred drug for decades, was found to be the most popular. In past year, 22.9% of seniors had used the drug. Nearly 7% of seniors reported that they used marijuana every day. These percentages, reported in the 2012 Back To School survey, have been increasing since 2007.

A synthetic form of marijuana, virtually unknown when parents of today’s high school students were themselves in high school, had been used by 11.4% of high school seniors in the last year. Prescription painkillers like Vicodin and prescription stimulants like Adderall are common but less popular. Use of Ecstasy, inhalants, and alcohol appears to be declining.

And students are not keeping their habits at home. Almost 17% say they use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco during the school day. Forty-four percent say they know someone who sells drugs at school.

The Influence of High Schools

Going to a high school in Atlanta where drug abuse is common does not guarantee an individual will abuse drugs himself. But influences from school do appear to be a risk for drug use. First, the availability of drugs at school make them much easier to acquire. Second, keeping school friends who abuse drugs can change the perception of their danger and make them appear more desirable.

Tracing Cause and Effect

Some aspects of high schools and drug abuse have relationships where cause and effect can be difficult to separate. For example, high schools with gang activity are more likely to have a drug problem. Criminal gangs may bring additional drug activity, but schools can have drugs without gangs as well.

Schools with high dropout rates and low academic achievement are more likely to have widespread problems with drugs. The academic problems may have drug abuse at their roots or the lack of educational engagement leave students vulnerable to the temptation of drug abuse.

Your Class Standing

If you or someone you care about attends a high school  in Atlanta with a drug problem, call our 24 hour helpline to learn more about a school’s influence on drug abuse. The call is toll free.