By Nina Claudia Soukhanovskii (‘20)
As teens enter high school and take one step closer towards the adult world, they begin to encounter many ideas and activities that they may not have considered in middle school. One of these more controversial ideas is drugs, and whether drug use can be considered “good” or “bad”.
On one hand, teens know that many drugs are used medicinally and can help cure diseases. But on the other hand, some drugs are addictive and can be easily abused by teens who do not know how certain drugs can have negative effects on their bodies.
School nurse Ms. Donna Moreen said, “Drugs affect the brain. Especially at this age, teens’ brains are not developed yet and drugs can put teens at risk later in life. Drugs especially affect teens’ mental health, including the lowering of IQs. There is also a higher chance of development of anxiety and/or depression, as well as risky behavior such as unsafe sex and accidents.”
An article by The Recovery Village, an organization aiding in rehabilitation, discusses why teens entering high school question would feel the need to use drugs in their lives. The reasons are many depending on the situation, and many of these reasons are things parents often miss or cannot help with.
“Many [teens] are reacting to peer pressure and believe turning to drugs is how to become popular in high school,” the article stated.
Additionally, the article mentioned that painful feelings caused by repeated bullying, emotional instability, and/or peer pressure can cause teens to look for a relief in drugs. Study-aid drugs like Adderall and/or Ritalin are also used because of the belief that they help students raise their grades. Finally, simple curiosity can lead teens to get into these situations because they may not know the effects of drugs yet.
“Different drugs react differently in everyone's body. If taken properly, they can be beneficial. If they are abused, they take control of a person's brain,” said junior Isha Patel, “Teens [must be careful not to] get lured into drugs they are unaware of to always stay safe.”
Patel is also an officer in the Students for Public Health Club, which helps educate the community about various health issues, primarily focusing on mental health.
The most important thing that teens need to understand is that drugs are not the answer most of the time, and there is often a better way to fix a situation than to allow a substance to create an illusion that only makes things worse in the end. And as for curiosity, experts say it’s better to stay safe than sorry.
“[At SBHS], there are many things that we offer that help teens who have any questions or who are struggling with an addiction. If a teen goes on their own to our student assistance counselor, then it’s completely confidential. However, teachers are educated for signs of teens that are under the influence, and they can refer students to the administration to be tested.” Nurse Moreen said.
SBHS also believes in equity for all students, meaning that every student has a right to seek the help and information that they deserve. Since teens are still learning about the real world, it’s the right thing for them to do to seek help now than to be sorry later.
“It’s important for SBHS to raise drug awareness because if students are more aware of the consequences, they will be more inclined to stay away from drugs,” said junior Jyotsna Suresh.
Finally, SBHS offers mandatory health classes in which students are taught a few important facts about common drugs through notes, textbook work, presentations, and other activities. This class is beneficial because it introduces teens to the subject so that they are at least aware of it.
As Patel said, “[teens today] have been exposed to many drugs” and being careful and knowledgeable is one’s best protection.