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Drug Abuse in High Schools

Drug Abuse in High SchoolsOne of the most common causes of drug abuse among high school students is peer pressure and the need for social acceptance. Partying has become a way of life for many students, especially 12th graders. With almost every type of drug abused within high school settings, 12th graders are consistently the majority abusers. High school students commonly abuse different types of substances, each of which have varying levels of popularity. According to the University of Michigan, the following are trends of drug abuse among high school students:

  • The common substance of choice among 12th grade drug abusers is alcohol, with over 28 percent participation.
  • Almost 23 percent of 12th graders abuse marijuana.
  • 6.5 percent of 12th graders use marijuana every day.
  • 10th graders tend to prefer marijuana more than alcohol, with 17 percent marijuana abuse and 14.5 percent alcohol abuse.
  • More than 36 percent of 12th graders abuse marijuana.
  • Over 11 percent of 12th graders abuse synthetic marijuana.
  • About 7.6 percent of 12th graders abuse pharmaceutical drugs like Adderall or Vicodin.
  • Approximately 5 percent of 12th graders use tranquilizers and hallucinogens.
  • Almost 15 percent of 12th graders have used a prescription drug non-medically within the past year.
  • 14.5 percent of 10th graders consume alcohol.
  • Almost 24 percent of 12th graders engage in binge drinking where they consume 5 or more drinks at one time.

Marijuana abuse among high school students continues to rise as their perceived risk of using continues to decrease. Marijuana use among high school students is more common than cigarette or other forms of tobacco use. There are many contributing factors to the high levels of drug abuse among high school students, including the following:

  • The need to fit in with social groups and feel accepted
  • Decriminalization of marijuana in some states
  • Increased parental acceptance of children’s drug abuse
  • Parents allowing their children and friends to drink within the home
  • General social acceptance of underage alcohol use
  • Children with a difficult or abusive family life using drugs to cope
  • Prevalence of gangs and drug trafficking within inner city schools

Schools within different areas with different socioeconomic populations have varying trends of drug abuse. Schools in rural areas typically have lower crime rates, which can often mean a smaller police force. Rural areas also tend to have more consistent levels of low-income families and poor education. Many students in these areas can be prone to drug use because they may feel as though they have a lower chance of being caught. Boredom, absence of drug education, and a general lack of healthy activities can also play a significant role in drug abuse among high school students in rural areas. Students in highly populated areas with high levels of crime are prone to drug abuse as well due to many factors, including gang activity and peer pressure. Wealthier areas tend to make it easier for teens to obtain drugs without having to explain to their parents where their money is going. Drug abuse in high schools is seemingly an increasing problem.

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