Under the Influence


Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/countries-with-the-harshest-drug-penalties-in-the-world-a7425851.html

Over time, teens have become less sensitive to the topic of drugs and the effect they can have on the human mind. This has led many to glorify the abuse of substances such as lean, weed, and Xanax. Whether it is the idolization of rappers endorsing the lifestyle of drugs, social media, stress, or peer pressure, many believe drug use is a normal human experience.


Teens talk about drugs

Many students have heard others talk about drugs. Senior Angela Perez said, “Drugs, to them, is pretty much the answer to having a good time wherever they go, whether it’s a party or a simple hangout.”

A junior male that chose to stay anonymous said, “They usually speak of it in a ‘Hey look what happened this day while I was on X drugs,’ mainly to show off to their friends.”

Senior Johnathan Rodriguez said, “They talk about it in a casual way. It’s mainly used as some sort of stress relief for them.” Similarly, an anonymous female junior said, “They mention it like they need it to be accepted or like it’s needed to feel right.”

“They always talk about how much weed they smoke or how much lean they drink,” said junior Jeremyah Thompson. “Other times it’s the dealers bragging about making so much money.”


No to Drugs

Some students, however, are against the use of drugs. Angela Perez feels as if people don’t understand how drugs can badly affect you in the long run, especially when people involve themselves with drugs just because of who they hang out with. “Although drugs can make you feel a certain way that’s ‘relaxing and cool’ or make you put your problems aside, they will become addictive at some point,” she said.

A female sophomore that wished to stay anonymous said, “Drugs takes control of people’s lives and not for the better. I have seen many people I have had as friends in the past go downhill because of it.”

“Most of the students who are influenced by drugs are extremely troubled and tend to not make good decisions in life,” said junior Lucy Severo. “Drugs are disgusting.”


Let them do as they wish

Meanwhile, other students do not mind the use of drugs. An anonymous male junior said drugs don’t hold any meaning to him because he has been exposed to it a lot in his life. “In the end, I’m just happy I’m not resorting to drugs as a form of escapism whenever I’m feeling stressed or upset. Although I joke about it saying I need weed, I don’t have anything like a wax pen at my disposal,” he said.

Senior Valentina Figuera thinks people should have the freedom to do whatever drugs they want to do since it’s a decision they’re making. “Of course, drugs are super harmful. I admit I wouldn’t be too happy to find out if my friends were doing it, so I would try to convince them to stop. If not, I can’t really do anything about it,” she said.

A sophomore male that chose to remain anonymous said, “There is a very clear line, and I think it’s simply when drug abuse becomes dangerous to yourself and others. If it becomes a dependency or a way to cope, then by all means, it should be considered a negative. Yet if it’s simply for fun and it doesn’t affect the stability of your life, then enjoy yourself.”


Real life stories

Some students have had firsthand experience with drugs. An anonymous junior male said, “I have done weed before to relieve some built-up stress, mainly because it was available and there’s nothing negative that comes with smoking weed in my eyes.”

Another anonymous male junior said, “I’ve smoked weed before. I did it out of curiosity. No peer pressure or anything. I’ve talked about smoking weed before with my dad, and he says he doesn’t mind because he did it when he was younger.”

An anonymous male sophomore said, “I’ve smoked weed, I’ve tried an edible, and I’ve bought my own personal pen. I do it simply to add spice to my life. Food tastes better, music sounds better, moments are more genuine, and bonds seem to become more prevalent because weed makes everyone more vulnerable even if it’s just physically, but mostly mentally. Many of my friends and I have gotten emotional and went on a journey of emotions. Personally, when I smoke, I become more of who I am. I become someone who I hide, I say what’s on my mind and live my life how I want. I don’t conform to what people expect from me. And I think that’s beautiful. Weed has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve had the courage to face horrors I live with on a day-to-day basis. Before I smoke, I always say, ‘Let’s go on an adventure,’ because that’s what it does. It makes me an explorer of a world I’m still new to, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”


Why they do it

Drug use is influenced by many factors. “I think a part of it is the pressure of fitting in with their friends,” said junior Emma Alonso. “Some kids may fall into pressure of doing it just so they can have friends or keep their friends. Or so they can brag that they managed to do something ‘so cool’ to their friends.”

Tenth grade counselor Ms. Gottlieb said that students who do not have the tools to deal with stressful situations such as depression or anxiety influences are vulnerable to turn to drug use.

A female senior that chose to remain anonymous said, “Social media for sure. A lot of rappers promote this lifestyle of drugs and money, which makes people think doing these things will make them more like the people they idolize.”

SPED counselor Ms. Wilcox said, “Peer influences and media are the two main factors of kids going to drugs out of their curiosity because of the way it is talked about in their surroundings and how it is promoted out in the media.”


5 Facts about Teenage Drug Abuse

  • 5% of high school seniors smoke pot daily, up from 5.1% five years ago. (Source: www.justice.gov )
  • By the 8th grade, 28% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana. (Source: childtrends.org )
  • 60% of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them free from friends and relatives. (Source: bustle.com )
  • 60% of high school seniors don’t see regular marijuana use as harmful, but THC (the active ingredient in the drug that causes addiction) is nearly 5 times stronger than it was 20 years ago. (Source: cnn.com )
  • About 50% of high school seniors do not think it’s harmful to try crack or cocaine once or twice and 40% believe it’s not harmful to use heroin once or twice. (Source: nih.gov )