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The Rider Online | Legacy HS Student Media

Covering the Bronco Nation.

The Rider Online | Legacy HS Student Media

Covering the Bronco Nation.

The Rider Online | Legacy HS Student Media

Drugs, Substance Abuse Becomes a Growing Issue in Teens

Substance+abuse+in+teens+usually+begins+as+vaping%2C+then+escalates+to+THC+or+other+toxic+substances.+Photo+by+Vaping360.
Photo by Vaping360
Substance abuse in teens usually begins as vaping, then escalates to THC or other toxic substances. Photo by Vaping360.

Whether it’s on Snapchat or YouTube, most students have seen the various anti-vape commercials released by The Real Cost, one of many tactics used to prevent substance abuse. As the numbers of substance abusers in schools rise, drug prevention in teens becomes increasingly important. Officer John Godwin and other school resource officers at Legacy typically encounter at least one drug-related issue per day. 

“They’re starting off with vaping, and vaping mostly leads to THC,” Officer Godwin said. “It’s very sad to see the transition of where these students are going.”

It’s likely the increase in drug use directly relates to an increase in behavioral issues. Marijuana typically causes mood swings and hostile behaviors, which affects how students act in school. 

“You can always tell if someone is acting abnormal and is not the same,” Officer Godwin said. “Most people who are intoxicated with some form of illegal substance always change their attitude as far as dealing with staff members or peers.” 

When a student is caught with a vape containing THC, the consequences will be a three-day suspension followed by 30 days in an alternative school. The school then comes up with a plan for counseling and ways the student can succeed academically. Assistant Principal John Contreras believes that drug use shouldn’t cause concern for other students. 

“I feel, and the students feel, that it’s a safe school,” Mr. Contreras said. “I just feel that they’re safe when they’re here, and they know that if any issues arise, the administrators and police and teachers will react, and we will protect the students that are here on campus.”

[Drugs] can ruin your life depending on what you have. It’s not worth risking a lot of opportunities from school or sports.

— High School Student

Many users try drugs, specifically THC, as a way to relieve stress. Although that is possibly true for low doses of the drug, the amount of THC needed to produce their desired high can result in increased levels of anxiety.

“It could be that they have a lot of personal problems and they just want to escape. They could have a lot of peer pressure and stress in their lives,” Mr. Contreras said. “The idea of wanting to belong with their group of friends and not say no may contribute to some of those students that start taking drugs.” 

Although students can turn to drugs for a variety of reasons, many students do it for short-term relief from anxiety and stress. Reports show that 53% of drug users also suffer from a mental illness. However, many users fail to realize that drugs such as marijuana can alter your brain and make you more likely to develop more or worsen mental health problems. 

“A lot of people today think that marijuana can help calm them and help medicate them through whatever anxiety or depression they may be dealing with,” Officer Godwin said. “What they don’t understand is they’re probably hurting their situation more than helping.”

A student who wished to remain anonymous started smoking weed and doing nicotine in their freshman year as a way to cope with school-related stress. They would only do the drugs once or twice a week, but they noticed a small effect on their lungs.

“It was just to try and calm me down, and it’s easy access,” the student said. “But I need my lungs to play sports.”

In addition to pressure to stop from friends, the student plays four sports, so they stopped taking drugs in their sophomore year. Marijuana can lower an athlete’s endurance and coordination, potentially leading to a permanent effect on athletic performance

People don’t realize the long-term effect. We really don’t know, medically, the long-term effect from using vapes other than cases where kids have developed popcorn lungs. I think I have a statistic that close to 75% to 85% of students in and out of high school will try vaping, and that’s a sad statistic.

— Officer John Godwin

“[Drugs] can ruin your life depending on what you have,” the student said. “It’s not worth risking a lot of opportunities from school or sports.”

This year to reduce the number of drug users, the officers and administration are working to educate students not only on the consequences of doing drugs but on how they can help stop the problem. Crime Stoppers allows students to call or text anonymously and leave a tip. If the information results in an arrest, the student can get paid. 

“If more students know about that and are educated about what Crime Stoppers truly does in and through the school, I think they’d be impressed to see that that program really works,” Officer Godwin said. “It works very well.”

The school’s majority of drug users vape THC or nicotine. Some vapes use toxic chemicals such as diacetyl, and they’re becoming a more common cause of a condition known as Popcorn Lung (Bronchiolitis Obliterans). It affects the airways in the lungs, which is irreversible once contracted. 

“People don’t realize the long-term effect. We really don’t know, medically, the long-term effect from using vapes other than cases where kids have developed popcorn lungs,” Officer Godwin said. “I think I have a statistic that close to 75% to 85% of students in and out of high school will try vaping, and that’s a sad statistic.”

The officers, teachers and administrators work to help eliminate drug use in schools through counseling, rehab and involvement. Doing so could create a better learning environment and increase chances of success for the students. 

“I take pride in where I work, I take pride in what school I represent,” Officer Godwin said. “I think that should be the same with the students that go to Legacy High School.”

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Abigail Morris, Assistant Editor
I need a Dr. Pepper, a nap, and a bag of ONLY the orange skittles.
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