05:46pm Thursday 02 July 2020

Youth Drug Use in America

Depending on the person it could be joy, fear, disgust, etc.

Furthermore, the topic of drugs exists in our political arenas, as debates raise over how to control the flow of drugs, how to stop drug-related crime, and keep children and other youths from starting to use. Middle and high school students are at their most impressionable age. With the existence of these issues in both our current events and entertainment options, we must worry about the issue of youth drug use.

Fortunately, a recent study done in 2014 has shown the number of drug users from 8th through 12th grades is declining in most areas. The study took into account a multitude of drugs and ages of users, looking at legal and illegal drugs used by middle and high schoolers.

Legal Drug Use:

Youth drug use isn’t just about the use of illegal drugs, but also the use of drugs that can be obtained legally by someone of the correct age.  The most popular legal drug for youths in America is Alcohol. The percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders drinking alcohol was shown at 9 percent, 23.5 percent, and 37.4 percent, respectively.

While those numbers might seem high, they were a steady decline from the numbers in 2009 which were 14.9 percent, 30.4 percent, and 43.5 percent. In addition, binge drinking has also shown an issue for the high school seniors, which is consuming five or more drinks two weeks in a row. Only 19.4 percent of high school seniors are binge drinking, compared to about 30 percent at its peak.

Tobacco use is also at an all-time low among youths of all ages. All ages are under 10 percent that smoke every day. The most fortunate statistic is that the number of high school seniors that smoke daily sits at only 6.7 percent, which is down 2 percent from the previous year. This could be attributed to national stop smoking initiatives that have been implemented through the public school system.

Illegal Drug Use:

As far as illegal drug use goes, it is relatively low in middle schools, which is to be expected. However, for 8th graders that reported last year drug use, 11 percent of them had used marijuana. Most other drugs fall at around 1 or 2 percent.

However, drug use increases as children grow form middle schoolers into high school seniors. Marijuana is still the most popular illicit drug for seniors, but the number spikes up to about 35 percent who used in the last year. Also, the number of steady marijuana users remains steady at about 20 percent of high school seniors.

 Additionally, Adderall is being used for both studying purposes, and to stay up later on the weekends. 6 percent of seniors reported using this drug, as it is more popular on college campuses. While this is legal, it is many times being used to youths who do not have a prescription.

Other popular drugs for America’s youth are MDMA (ecstasy or “molly”) and Cocaine. While there is use of these drugs in youths, it remains relatively low in high school seniors. Additionally, the availability of these drugs also seems to be on the decline, with many claiming they wouldn’t even know where to get them.

Effects on Youth:

This is such an important issue because youths are the most impressionable they will ever be, and drugs show up everywhere in our culture. Youths that fall victim to regular drug use and abuse, can experience serious issues.

First, mental development could be stunted, as the use of drugs effectively kills brain cells and causes changes in mood and attitude. Youths that use drugs can develop disinterested personalities, leadings to declines in school performance, and decreased interests in activities besides drugs.

In addition to the negative effects while the youth is using, there are also dangers once a youth either gives up or can’t find anymore drugs. Drug and alcohol withdrawal causes serious mood swings, as well as possible physical side effects. Youths in withdrawal cause stress on both family and friends, and can do damage to their social lives, as well as their own health.

Fortunately, facilities exist to help deal with the effects of abuse and withdrawal. Additionally, most insurance plans cover drug treatment in some capacity, and can help offset the cost.

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