The ultimate goal of parenting is to raise your child to live a successful and healthy love filled life. Our parents are here to protect us from the harm of others and the harm of ourselves. However, protecting our children too much can have a very negative impact on our lives especially when it comes to drug abuse. A lot of parents are against drug education because they want to believe that drugs will never be an issue in their child’s life. If we don’t expose our children to the unfavorable consequences of drug abuse, the more naïve our society becomes.
Have you ever been affected by someone who was addicted to drugs? Maybe you have even found yourself to be addicted at one time, or maybe you are addicted right at this moment to a substance that you just can’t kick. Sometimes the world puts us between a rock and a hard spot and leaves us feeling hopeless with no one to turn to. The effects of drug abuse should be brought to the attention of teenagers on a regular basis. Do you remember in grade school the little drug abuse resistance and education spill we got from a local law enforcement official? This is not enough education to guide us all the way through high school. Roger Tompson, in the periodical Teen Drug Addiction, conveys that teenage drug addictions run in long chains, so the teenage years are the best time to either break or stop the chain from happening. The only way for America to fight off drug addiction is to make it mandatory for all high school students to continually take drug abuse classes each year.
To fully understand why high schools need drug prevention curriculum is to understand the reasons why teenagers are using drugs. Peer pressure is one reason why a young adult who probably would never try drugs does. Using drugs as a teenager is almost a ritual. Once you hit your teenage years, you are at high risk of being exposed to drugs. Peer pressure is a large contributor to experimenting with drugs. Especially for the teenagers that are desperately trying to fit in. Going to parties and experimenting with drugs could be the only way a teenager feels socially excepted. The classroom is the best place to learn that there is more to life than fitting in with a group that is sabotaging their own futures. There is a way to get down to the root of this evil problem in America. The kids need to be protected through education. Drug abuse prevention education would allow these children to understand that being peered pressured into doing drugs can lead to addiction.
Another large contributor to teenage drug addiction is the actual house environment kids grow up in. Children who grow up in homes with parents who are addicted to drugs are more susceptible to follow in their lead. According to MD and PhD Howard Markel, 13% of children under 18 who live in a household where a parent is using drugs will also become addicted (Medscape Today). These kids are using because it is heredity and part of their everyday environment. Parents who are substance abusers should be pushing for a mandatory drug education class throughout high school more than anyone else. They can stop the cycle of addiction through their children.
Peer pressure and environment are only two reasons why drugs can become a problem in a teenager’s life. Teenagers may use drugs for numerous reasons. For example, stress, boredom and curiosity are other examples of the reasons why teenagers do drugs. There are no definite reasons behind drug use for teens because every teenager is unique. For that reason, all angles of drug abuse should be covered in studies. The curriculum could give students other ways to fill the gap of stress, boredom and curiosity.
Most importantly, high school students need to be aware of the consequences of drug addiction. The NARCONON Drug education curriculum for high school students states, “For many youths, substance abuse precedes academic and health problems including lower grades, higher truancy, drop out decisions, delayed or damaged cognitive or emotional development, or a variety of other costly consequences”.(Lennox and Cecchini) These problems can be avoided with the right educational tools. For starters, we need high schools to recognize the desperate need to elaborate on severe consequences of drug addictions. As a teenager, it is a little difficult to look past the weekend. All you are concerned with is the moment and socializing with your friends. If not careful, teenagers can go down the wrong path of using. They start to slack off and their grades fall behind dramatically. After a while they could even be expelled from school. The sad part of this is that if the teenager is smart enough to grow out of the phase of drug using, the young adult is now set back in their studies. This can impact their life significantly. They will have to redo classes and make up for failing grades. Years of their life will be spent making up for their mistakes. This can be avoided if drug education is presented before they decide to let drugs set them back. High school kids need a repetitive message that drug abuse will set them back in time.
High school is the best time of child’s life to reinforce the consequences of drug abuse. High school students have more of an opportunity to use drugs because of the freedom granted. Most high schools allow the students to leave campus for lunch. Educating the students will give some relief to parents who are worried their child might be getting into trouble at lunch time. Also, in high school you are going to have more classmates than you did before in early grades, so there is a lot more exposure. A high school student’s addiction may actually cause teenagers to break the law because they will commit crimes in order to get to the drug. What this student needs to know is that the government will not grant student’s financial help if they have committed drug related offenses. This is very serious matter. Education is the key to success. Therefore, a student who made a mistake is high school may never accomplish educational goals because of lack of financial help.
It isn’t oblivious to the American society that addiction studies education is necessary for high schools. The Narconon drug abuse prevention curriculum for high school students was written in 2007 by Lennox and Cecchini. The creators of this program used scientific and drug abuse prevention literature to come up with a solution to prevent or delay drug abuse in high school age children.(Lennox and Cecchini). Currently the program consists of 8 sessions and is only used in southern California schools (Lennox and Cecchini). Researchers studied students who received the 8 sessions and a group of students who did not (Lennox and Cecchini). The education was proven to be effective in reducing the amount of future drug use (Lennox and Cecchini). The educated students also proved through surveys that they understood the harms of drug abuse significantly higher than the group who did not receive the 8 week session (Lennonz and Cecchni). There were some downfalls for this program. For instance, the program is only 8 sessions and is only available to a certain population. However, this is a start to getting addiction studies incorporated into the high school curriculum. Can you imagine the positive effect it would have on society if all schools in America received drug abuse prevention education on a continuous basis?
High school children know exactly what the harms of drugs can do to their classmates because they are physically there to witness and experience the consequences. In an interview with Amanda Martinez, an 18 year old senior from Mckinleyville High in California, I asked her if she has ever seen drugs affect her fellow classmates. Amanda answered, “Yes definitely, it is kind of odd because it happens in trends. You will see a group of kids at the beginning of school, and then you see them less and less throughout the school year. Amanda continues, “You know the reason for their absences is because they care about drugs more than they do about school.” Mandating a drug addiction curriculum may be able to get through to these children before they become addicted. Once a person has decided that drugs are going to be the most important aspect of their life, it gets harder to stir them away. I also asked Amanda if she ever received any education on the harms of drug addiction. Amanda responded, “Ya, freshmen year in health class, we had a chapter.” However, she then started to explain to me about a 2 day program she was about to endure on the negative impacts of alcohol. The program is called every 15 minutes and is very intense. Selected teenagers have to pretend they drove drunk and died. The program gets very emotional because the kids have to write their own obituaries and place fake tombstones on school grounds (Martinez). Drugs and alcohol go hand in hand together and this is why there needs to be a program addressing drug addiction. Basically, drug abuse prevention is not being taught in high schools. The kids receive a very brief lecture and then are left to teach themselves. I asked Amanda what she remembered from her drug prevention studies in health class. Amanda simply responded by stating, “It was so long ago, but I think we watched a movie” (Martinez). If drug prevention classes were continual, the answer to this question would be vivid concepts and consequences of drug abuse. What are the real reasons behind the lack of existence of drug abuse prevention curriculum? Awareness is the key here in America. Let’s not pretend ignoring the issue of drug addictions will make it go away.
We want to think that our children are invisible to the scene of drugs. However, they are going to come across them no matter what we may think or want. If they can’t resist peer pressure or their abusive environment, then maybe they can come to understand that the effects of drugs can cause their brain to become dysfunctional. Besides the lapse of mental capacity, drugs can cause someone a life of struggle. Addicted teenagers are not only hurting themselves but are hurting the family and friends that surround them. The article Drug Addiction and Drug Abuse states, “Drug-related crime can disrupt neighborhoods due to violence among drug dealers, threats to residents, and the crimes of the addicts themselves (Encyclopedia). Individuals who are addicted to drugs will take any measure needed to obtain their drug of choice. It is very painful to watch someone you care about deeply destroying themselves. Drug abuse prevention curriculum will reduce the negative impact of drugs. Furthermore, we must remember that today’s teenagers will be tomorrow’s adults. The more teenagers’ that grow up knowing that drug addictions can be very brutal can ultimately pass down the message to their children. If educating teenagers can help save lives, then why not pursue it?
Martinez, Amanda. Personal Interview 1 April 2011.
Markel, Howard, “Parents and Substance Abuse” Medscape today, 2005.Web 7April.2011. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/503855
Lennox ,Richard and Marie Cecchini. “The NARCONON Drug education curriculum for high school students: A non- randomized controlled prevention trial substance abuse, treatment and prevention policy,” Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy. 19 March. 2008.
Thompson Roger, “Teen Drug Addiction.” Health Care Community Industry 14 Dec. 2007