Posts Tagged teen marijuana abuse
A recent survey made at Wood County is showing the extent of substance abuse among kids, specifically from the fifth to the twelfth grades. Back in February, students from the Wood County public schools district participated in the study and what they revealed should be a wake-up call for all concerned authorities.
Results of the survey confirmed that there are about 15.2% of twelfth graders who smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days prior to the survey. What was surprising and alarming was the fact that more kids are smoking pot than cigarettes, with 19.9% of the participants admitting to marijuana use. Just last year, 15.6% of seniors from schools in the district said they had used weed more than ten times.
Project director for the Safe Schools Healthy Student Initiative and the Wood County Educational Service Center, Kyle Clark, said that marijuana use among teens is increasing in other parts of the country as well. Clark added that the legalization of marijuana has sent confusing messages to kids which might have triggered for statistics to rise.
As the debate on medical marijuana continues, students could get the wrong idea that the substance is safe. Clark calls for school authorities and anti-substance abuse groups to focus on the prevention methods to discourage kids from using marijuana.
Results also revealed that there is a continuing drop on the use of cigarettes among 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. Even alcohol use dropped, giving Wood County its lowest rate ever since the annual survey started in 2004.
“Well over 60 percent of our kids have not taken a drink; have not smoked a cigarette ever. And those are good statistics to have.”
Also included in the report was the issue of bullying with almost 33% of Wood County students falling victims to these kinds of situations, which could increase their risks for substance abuse.
There’s another reason for parents to be alarmed with regards to teen marijuana use. Aside from the increasing number of kids hooked on pot, “heavy” marijuana use is also on the rise.
According to the report from the 23rd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study or PATS, adolescents who heavily take marijuana has reached 80% in the last few years after a steady decline within 10 years from 1998 to 2008.
Most of the increase in marijuana use was recorded among the boys and some minorities. On the average, about 10% of teenagers all over the country admit to smoking weed at least 20 times in the last month. This equates to more or less 1.5 million kids in America that light up marijuana.
Steve Pasierb, president of the Drugfree.org, explained that marijuana use is generally the starting point for kids that get into more dangerous substance abuse situations. “Ninety percent of all adult addicts started drug use in their teen years,” he said.
Thus the role of parents in the prevention of substance abuse is once again emphasized. Experts say that kids who learn about the dangers of substance abuse at home decrease their chances of drug use by as much as 50%.
Pasierb also reminded parents that despite the many who say marijuana use is a safer alternative to illicit drug use, there really isn’t any safe ground as far as substance abuse is concerned.
The existence of medical dispensaries may have somehow contributed to the increase in marijuana use among teens especially in California. This is why medical marijuana facilities are advised to dispense marijuana if, and only if, there is a valid medical condition that can only be addressed with the use of pot.
In California, patients are required to get their prescriptions for medical marijuana from legitimate doctors who will evaluate their condition.
While the use of cocaine and methamphetamine among teens may have stabilized in the last few years, pot use is on the rise. In a new study released by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, one in every ten kids is smoking marijuana at least 20 times within a month. Students between the 9th and 12th grades are also experimenting with prescription drugs.
The situation elevated due to the fact that most parents think that weed is just weed, no cause for alarm. Yet Partnership President Steve Pasierb said that parents should not take the issue of marijuana for granted. “Parents are talking about cocaine and heroin, things that scare them. Parents are not talking about prescription drugs and marijuana. They can’t wink and nod. They need to be stressing the message that this behavior is unhealthy.”
The report showed that marijuana use has increased from only 19% in 2008 to about 27% in 2011. Teens who smoked pot at least 20 times in a month also climbed from 5% in 2008 to last year’s 9%. That’s about 1.5 million teens who regularly light up marijuana.
Previous researches made also had parallel results, like that of a recent survey made by a team from the University of Michigan. The initiative was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that claimed marijuana use is again on the rise after a decline in the last decade.
Results of the study have linked the use of pot and other drugs. It was suggested that teens who regularly use marijuana were also twice more likely to take cocaine or ecstasy.
The study also tackled the issue of pain medications abuse, putting Vicodin and Oxycontin as the drug of choice among teens. It was also noted that ecstasy or cocaine use is highest among Hispanic teens (almost 50%). African American teens followed suit with almost 42% hooked on prescription medications while that of Caucasian teens reached 39%.
A free public panel discussion was organized by the Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to address the growing problem of marijuana use in Northwest Ottawa County especially among teens. The discussion held at the Grand Haven 9 Theater was attended by about 60 parents and educators from Muskegon, Holland, and Tri-Cities.
Panelists during the forum included police officials, school authorities, parents, and students that were all determined to help put a stop to drug abuse problems in their area. Sgt. Glenn Bo from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety was joined by Deputy Sara Fillman of the Sheriff’s Office in Ottawa County, Cynthia Spielmaker from tha 20th Circuit Court/Juvenile Services, Karen Miedema of the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office, and some parents and students who volunteered to share their experiences with drug abuse.
Stephanie VanDerKooi from the Ottawa County Health Department said that kids today have easy access to dangerous drugs. From the latest survey made, they listed alcohol as the top choice of drug among high school students. Marijuana came in at second while synthetic marijuana (K2 or Spice) climbed at the third place. Completing the top five from the list are tobacco at fourth and prescription drugs at fifth place.
From the list of prescribed medications, Adderall, Ritalin, and Vicodin have been favored by citizens in Northwest Ottawa County.
“The big problem is, it’s (drugs) more potent than ever — but kids are looking at it like it’s no big deal,” Miedema said. “And it’s getting expensive — but, somehow, kids are getting the money.”
It is an unfortunate but very real scenario: the presence of buying and selling of drugs in high schools throughout the United States. One such case in a high school in Illinois provides a picture of how things are in our high schools.
An investigation regarding drug sales at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, resulted in the charging of two students, and the recovery of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
The investigation uncovered text messages from students’ cell phones, which showed that marijuana transactions were being arranged during the school day. The actual transactions, however – when marijuana really exchanged hands – happened outside the school premises.
Barrington Police Chief Jerry Libit shared: “That kind of thing probably goes on in every high school in America… We’ve certainly had our share of kids using pot or buying pot or selling pot. It’s a horrible situation when it happens in the high school. That’s why they have enhanced penalties for it and everything.”
Steve Williams, principal of Barrington High School, concurred that when drugs invade the school environment, it is a serious matter: “We will go to whatever degree the law will allow to address transactions on school property… I know that it’s happened, but it doesn’t happen very often. (Drugs have) been an issue at high schools since high schools were opened. We just have to help educate students to make good decisions.”
Police and school officials agree that education is a useful tool in the fight against drug abuse among teens, and that efforts towards making teens aware of the risks of marijuana and other drugs should be continued.
A Colorado teen who spent time in juvenile detention for dealing pot speaks about his own experience and how teens in the Roaring Fork Valley area are getting their hands on marijuana.
Charles, 15, agreed to be interviewed for as long as his last name was not revealed. A sophomore in Roaring Fork High School, he had only been smoking and selling pot for about half a year when his activities were discovered: “A kid told on me… His parents found the marijuana and they asked where he got it, and he told them it was me. Three days later, I was getting in a car and police cars pulled up and said, ‘Come with us.’”
Charles’ source for the pot he was selling was the older brother of a friend. Charles met him a week after trying his first joint at a party, and was presented with the proposition to earn money selling pot. The source, a guy in his 40s, had been selling pot for decades; nowadays, however, he is exclusively selling medical marijuana after he was able to get a marijuana registry card for back pain.
Charles commented: “They’re really easy to get them around here… you can get them for headaches.”
Lori Mueller, program director of Youth Zone, a diversion system for young offenders, shared that teen attitudes towards pot is changing: “Marijuana is no big deal to them… And it’s very hard to work with kids who truly believe — or whose parents believe — that marijuana is medicine. If it’s medicine, how can it be wrong? When they see a medical marijuana shop on every other block, and they have friends or parents of friends who have medical marijuana cards, it doesn’t feel to them like there’s anything to worry or be nervous about.”
Charles has since gone back to school, and hopes to join the military after high school. He intends to use that goal as a motivating factor to stay clean, knowing that having a drug conviction will flush that dream down the drain.