A High Schooler's Opinion on Drug and Alcohol Use in High School This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

February 13, 2013
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Drugs and alcohol are seen as such terrible things – things that ruin lives and turn model students into dropouts, and sure, sometimes that’s true, and sometimes people OD, and sometimes people die. Yes. But that’s by no means the norm, and there’s nothing really wrong with a little recreational experimentation. These horror stories about high school druggies are just that – meant to scare us and turn us away from recreational drug use. The problems really come with peer pressure and when recreational drug use blurs with addiction. Pressure to do drugs is almost inescapable in high school, and the blurred line between addiction and using drugs for fun is often blurred during high school experimentation as well. These dangers cause problems for high school students who use drugs, because it makes doing drugs more risky, and cause many adults and educators to be against drugs, despite the general harmlessness of high school experimentation with drugs and alcohol.

The major problem with experimentation is that it’s possible for experimentation to lead to addiction or confusion about whether or not one is addicted. Webster’s Dictionary defines addiction as “the condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit,” but where is the line drawn for abnormality? Is “abnormal dependence” as simple as wanting something all the time, or is it more complex, like, is there a certain threshold of ‘wanting’ above which one is addicted and below which one is not addicted? And can one really be “normally dependent” on a habit, especially when it comes to drugs? I have a friend who insists she’s not addicted to drugs or alcohol, but this is the same girl who parties every weekend, drinking and shooting up. She mixes drugs, smokes weed, and saves up her ADD medication to get high on later. Is she addicted? Could she stop anytime she wanted? It’s hard to know if she doesn’t try. And I know she doesn’t try. She can be smart when she wants to be, and yet every other week she walks into fifth period making grand claims of swearing off drinking, or sex, or hard drugs, but comes in the next day talking about her newest exploit. What keeps her going back? Is it really addiction, or is she just trying to have fun?

That’s the real question, for most teenagers: Where is the line drawn between enjoyment and addiction? I don’t doubt that doing drugs is an enjoyable experience, at least for some people. Although I’ve never had more than a sip of wine at Passover, I’ve heard many stories about good experiences with drugs from people whom I trust. Stories about getting a lot of work done, or just having a lot of fun. So, I can definitely see the draw, and I have to admit that it’s tempting to try out some of the drugs with starred reviews, but I never have. This isn’t true of many people. Many succumb to the overwhelming peer pressure dominating the high school social life, and experiment with things, like drugs, that they aren’t completely comfortable with. The problem with drugs in high school is not the fact that drugs are a big part of social life, but the fact that there is no escape. If a person does not want to do drugs or associate with people who do drugs, it’s hard to get away from that culture. This is because, as drugs become more acceptable with the legalization of drugs like marijuana, drug culture has transformed from a subverted subculture to a prevalent, major culture, especially in high school. For this reason, it’s difficult to stay sober. About 50% of teens use drugs at some point in their teenage lives, and, according to Developmental Psychology, teens take about 50% more risks in the presence of peers, meaning that people are more likely to try something they’re not comfortable with around their peers. Because many of a teenager’s peers are using drugs these days, it is far more likely that teens will use drugs when pressured by their peers, even if this pressure is not obvious or purposeful. This implicit pressure is the most dangerous kind of pressure, and is one of the factors making teenage drug and alcohol use so dangerous.

The dangers of teenage drug use do not come from the drugs themselves. Although lack of drug education means that teens are often subject to overdose, this is far less common than the dangers of addiction and peer pressure relating to teens. Addiction to drugs is, unfortunately, quite common in teenagers, because teens often don’t realize that they are addicted to drugs or alcohol until it is too late to go back. Another major problem is peer pressure; sometimes, teens don’t want to try drugs, but are encouraged to by their friends, leading to unhappy, obliging use of drugs or drinking. Almost half of teens experiment with drugs or alcohol, but we need to know that these teens are doing so safely and of their own accord. There’s nothing wrong with recreational drug use, but if teens are doing so unsafely, or under duress, it is necessary to fix that problem.

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have_a_heart This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 28, 2013 at 12:12 am
Uh, wow. That other comment was completely harsh, and if there is anything Teenink needs to stop publishing, it's ignorant comments like those. I completely agree with you, Lebayum. 
lebayum replied...
Feb. 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm
Thank you. I would not have had a problem with that comment if it had been constructive, rather than inflammatory. However, it was simply an angry commenter offended that someone had an opinion unlike theirs.
Bavina said...
Feb. 26, 2013 at 10:42 pm
THIS is ridiculous!!! TEEN INK needs to stop accepting articles that are bad influences or otherwise complete and utter garbage. Lebayum, you should be ashamed that you even dared to write this. "There is nothing wrong with experimentation"? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???! There are laws to prevent this. Sure you are right that education is bad but the fact is drugs have terrible effects and really shouldn't be used. You had some ok points but the fact that you condone usage is terrifying. ... (more »)
lebayum replied...
Feb. 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm
Excuse me, but although I don't personally use drugs, I think people have the right to use if they see fit. Maybe you've had bad experiences, but not everyone has, and not everyone will. Please try to know what you're talking about before you post.
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