Teen substance abuse: We need to act now


By Zachary Roubideaux

When I think of teenage drug addiction, I think of my older brother when he was in high school. If you were to watch him back then, you would have no idea the struggle he was going through. On the outside he was a popular football player, but on the inside he was just someone struggling with drug addiction.

He was addicted to opioids and many other drugs at the time, so living with him was a scary time. We had no idea when he might snap or if he might overdose.

This is why teenage drug addiction is so important to me. Drugs are invading our teens in and around Spokane. When we talk about addiction, we have to know the drugs used by teenagers: nicotine, marijuana and opioids/painkillers.

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics has identified that 11.11% of teens in Washington State use drugs and that 4,777 Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 die each year from drug overdoses.

Additionally, the number of teenagers who become addicted is quite concerning, with 88.25% of them reporting having used marijuana and 2.55% reporting having abused painkillers. Like my big brother, these drugs end up in the hands of our young people and are misused.

However, this concern does not stop with my brother. I’ve seen close friends become addicted to drugs, and from an outside perspective, it’s sadly easy for that to happen. These teenagers become addicted because of the people they surround themselves with. Many of these children experience peer pressure to try these drugs, which leads to addiction.

One drug that I see students my age becoming addicted to is nicotine, and it has slowly become a problem among our young people over the past few years. It is one of the most popular drugs children become addicted to due to how easily they can get their hands on it. Most young people starting out in college are exposed to nicotine through vapes, mods, and other “nic hitters.”

The problem is an emergency; so we must act now. I propose a need to show children the dangers of drugs and the paths they could take.

As for what our community is doing to help with these issues, there are a handful of programs for our youth. At North Central High School, where I attend, we have a significant number of programs that help drug-addicted children and show them the dangers of drugs and help them get help if they need it. Additionally, our community offers over 35 different treatment centers around Spokane. According to Northpoint Washington, we have “15 free treatment programs, 17 inpatient rehabilitation centers, one outpatient, three luxury residence halls, five drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, and 38 rehabilitation centers.”

Curiously, I came across data that suggested people were almost trying to justify kids doing drugs. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “The school system cares more about good grades than the health of its students. This is relevant because enough stress on the wrong person could overwhelm them and turn them into drugs to help them get away from the stress of a failing grade. I see where they are going with this statement, but I disagree that it does our young people no good by ending the problem. This is one of those issues that you need to find a solution for or else the problem will get worse.

Finally, what I ask is that children, adults, teachers, parents and others become aware of these serious problems. All we need to do is raise awareness of this. We can’t wait for this to become everyone’s big brother before we come together to fight addiction (in) our young people. It will be a challenge but not close to the challenge of watching it at home.


About Author

Comments are closed.