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There is a crisis rolling through the United States currently, and it has written over it, “Youth Substance Abuse”. Addiction and substance abuse has made bigger and bigger impacts on this nation’s youth as year has gone by, culminating in what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) have labeled as an, “Epidemic of substance abuse amongst our nation’s youth”. The problem really started to worsen around the turn of the century when heroin and prescription drugs became more available in the nation. This was also the same time that the United States began to get really lax about marijuana too, the nation’s number one gateway drug for young adults.
A factor that is overlooked is the sheer gravity of just how serious the effect of substance abuse is on the educational front of the nation’s youth. Drug and alcohol abuse has a direct effect on school performance for young adults. Drug abuse and alcohol abuse alike make it almost impossible to study and to retain information, and students’ grade averages plummet as a result. It can easily be seen that this is only the tip of the iceberg of the dwindling spiral that a teen or young adults has set himself or herself on if he or she starts abusing drugs or alcohol.
What the NHSDA has to Say About It
One organization and research project, the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, (NHSDA), revealed to the general public that as rates and statistics on and of drug and alcohol use and abuse by students between the ages of 12 and 17 increased, grade point averages decreased. To make matters even more plain and obvious, it was also found that middle school students whose peer groups don’t use alcohol or other drugs score higher on state reading and math tests than those whose peer groups use alcohol or drugs. Obviously, substance abuse really takes a student’s grade point average down a notch.
The Statistics on the Matter: Truth in Facts on Youth Substance Abuse
Declining grades, lack of interest in school subjects, lack of interest in a future career, absenteeism from school and other activities, and increased potential for dropping out of school completely are all major problems associated with adolescent substance abuse in this nation. Hawkins, Catalano, and Miller (1992) cite research indicating that: “A low level of commitment to education and higher truancy rates appear to be related to substance use among adolescents. Cognitive and behavioral problems experienced by alcohol- and drug-using youth may interfere with their academic performance and also present obstacles to learning for their classmates” (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1992).
There is no doubt about it, substance abuse and failure in school go hand in hand, just like substance abuse and failures in all other sectors of life also go hand in hand. The statistics on the issue don’t lie either:
• More teens die from prescription drugs than heroin/cocaine combined.
• In the year 2013, more high school seniors regularly used marijuana than cigarettes as 22.7% smoked pot in the last month, compared to 16.3% who smoked cigarettes.
• Sixty percent of high school seniors don’t see regular marijuana use as harmful, but THC (the active ingredient in the drug that causes addiction) is nearly 5 times stronger than it was 20 years ago.
• About a third of teenagers who live in states with medical marijuana laws get their pot from other people’s prescriptions.
• The United States as a nation represents 5% of the world’s population and 75% of prescription drugs taken. 60% of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them free from friends and relatives.
• Adderall use and abuse, (often prescribed to treat ADHD) has increased among high school seniors from 5.4% in 2009 to 7.5% this year.
• More than fifty percent of high school seniors do not think regular steroid use is harmful, the lowest number since 1980, when the National Institute on Drug Abuse started asking about perception on steroids.
• By the just the 8th grade, 28% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana.
• Teens and young adults who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.
• No less than seven percent of high school seniors smoke pot daily, up from 5.1% five years ago. Meanwhile, less than 20% of 12th graders think occasional use is harmful, while less than 40% see regular use as harmful (lowest numbers since 1983).
• About half of all high school seniors do not think it’s harmful to try crack or cocaine once or twice and 40% believe it’s not harmful to use heroin once or twice.
When it comes to students suffering from substance abuse, it is not just with drugs that they suffer. Students and young adults in general are now suffering with alcohol abuse issues and problems like never before. For example:
• Excessive drinking is responsible for no less than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, and cost the U.S. $24 billion in economic costs in 2010.
• Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is most definitely illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.
• On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers do.
• In 2010, there were no less than a full 189,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.
Looking to the Future: What to Do About Drug and Alcohol Abuse in American Schools
No matter who is addicted to what, no matter how old they are or how badly they are addicted, the answer to addiction always has been and probably always will be rehabilitation. More specifically of course, inpatient, residential, drug and alcohol addiction and dependence treatment centers, detox facilities, rehab programs, and recovery organizations. This is exactly what the nation’s youth needs to conquest against addiction once and for all. Addiction worsens and grows to be more severe as each year goes by, but rehabilitation centers have what it takes to rectify the issue amongst the nation’s youth.
Now that there is awareness on the addiction crisis amongst the nation’s youth, the next step is to actually do something about it. An inpatient rehabilitation center can turn a young adult’s life around, and it is time that these programs be pursued with passion and zeal as an effective way to reverse the dwindling spiral that is this nation’s addicted youth.