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The drug abuse issue at PHS

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Have you ever had a drink, smoked, or even tried something a bit stronger like marijuana? Then you might or might not be surprised to learn that it’s common for students to fall victim to the usage of drugs. For many years, students here at Pasco High School have had to deal with the growing epidemic of drug abuse and it has not been easy. With all the social pressure placed on students to do one of these drugs, it becomes more difficult to reject them as the school’s culture becomes more accepting of drugs and less accepting of those who refuse to do them. 

Vaping is on the rise, especially with younger people. An article on Education Week says ‘’ More than one of every 10 high school students is vaping, according to newly released federal data’. This number may not seem huge, but it is and over time it will only grow. Some of the reasons why people like vaping are because of the look. Vapes are designed to look like an everyday item. This makes students feel like vaping isn’t as dangerous as regular cigarettes. Vapes also come in different flavors. So instead of the regular smoking smell you can pick a strawberry-scented vape instead. This also tricks younger people into believing that vapes aren’t as dangerous. An article on Verkada said ‘’ Some e-cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Others look like everyday items such as pens or USB memory sticks. Some are designed to resemble common household items, like highlighters or even key fobs’. The article also said ‘’Unlike regular tobacco products, which have one distinct taste, e-cigarettes come in hundreds of fun flavors, like cotton candy, mango, or mint. This makes them more attractive to the 800,00 young people who tried them for the first time in 2022 alone’. Vaping can also lead to addiction to other drugs such as nicotine. The article on Verkada explained ‘’In addition to the health risks associated with the harmful chemicals in vape juice, nicotine is highly addictive. Young adults who vape are at a greater risk of developing a nicotine addiction than those who don’t. When users inhale nicotine, it quickly enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain’. Vaping itself may not seem like a big deal but it will lead to addiction that will harm you in the future. 

Marijuana is a dangerous drug that seems to have students in a chokehold. An argument that many people may have for this drug is that since it’s natural it’s not dangerous. But that couldn’t be any less wrong. Using it can and will lead to serious consequences—an article on AACAP.org said ‘’marijuana can cause serious problems with learning, feelings, and health. Short-term use of marijuana can lead to: School difficulties’. Another article on cdc.gov explained ‘’In 2019, 37% of US high school students reported lifetime use of marijuana and 22% reported use in the past 30 days’. Weed is also common among students which is incredibly dangerous as using this drug can lead to severe sicknesses. An article on kids’ health said ‘’Cough more, get more lung infections, and get lung scarring. Be more likely to get depressed, be anxious, or have thoughts of suicide. Become dependent on marijuana and develop cannabis use disorder. This means they can’t stop using marijuana even when it causes health, social, and school problems’. Remember that using weed right now may not seem like a huge deal but later in life It will come back to bite you in the butt.  

Another popular drug not taken seriously is alcohol. An article on American addiction center.org said ‘’ Although it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, findings show that people between the ages of 12-20 consume more than 1/10 of all alcohol consumed in the United States. High school students in the United States abuse alcohol more than any other drug. By the 12th grade, more than 2/3 of students have tried alcohol’. Alcohol is one of the biggest used drugs among high school students. Many already know about the bad things that happen such as mental issues, bad physical health, and car crashes. But something students do seem to understand is the legal you could get into. An article on Washington State Liquor and Cannabis board.gov said ‘’ The maximum penalty is one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. If you are between the ages of 13 and 17, any alcohol or firearm offense could result in the loss of your driver’s license for one year, or until you are 17, whichever is longer. This includes Minor in Possession (MIP) and/or Consumption of Alcohol (MIC)’. It’s important to know that when using drugs such as alcohol not only are you risking your health but potentially your freedom as well. 

To see how bad the drug abuse issue is at PHS I asked 5 students 3 different questions. The first question I asked was had you consumed some sort of drug in the past 2 weeks. 4 said yes and 1 said no. This wasn’t a surprise to me knowing that many of the people I know here have already consumed something at least once. The second question I asked was do you have a family member at home who consistently consumes alcohol. 3 said yes and 2 said no. The number isn’t as high as the other, but it still isn’t unexpected since a common way that many students get into drugs is because of influence in the house. Not always but sometimes. The third question I asked was are you planning on taking some sort of drug in the next month. 4 said yes and 1 said no. This shows not just how common but scary it is knowing how many students naively consume drugs on a regular basis. 

The drug abuse at Pasco high school is growing at a scary rate. The core of the problem seems to come from students’ inability to see the damage they’re doing to themselves. Drugs will destroy you physically and mentally. Even if it’s not now it will happen. It’s important to stand against peer pressure and to reject anybody’s offer whenever it does come up. 

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