By Zachary Roubideaux
When I think about drug addiction with teens, I think about my older brother when he was in high school. If you were to look at him at the time, 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 a person 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 could overdose.
This is the reason drug addiction among teens is so important to me. Drugs are sweeping through our teens in Spokane and surrounding areas. When one speaks about addiction, one must know the drugs that teens are taking: nicotine, marijuana, and opioids/painkillers.
The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics identified that 11.11% of teens in Washington state use drugs, and 4,777 Americans from the ages 15 to 24 die from drug overdoses a year.
Additionally, the sheer number of teens who are getting addicted is quite worrisome, with 88.25% of them reported to have used marijuana and 2.55% reporting that they have misused pain relievers. Like my big brother, these drugs are getting in the hands of our youths and are getting misused.
However, this concern does not stop at my brother. I have seen close friends get addicted to drugs, and from an outside perspective, it is easy for this to happen, unfortunately. These teens are getting addicted because of the people they are surrounding themselves with. A lot of these kids get peer-pressured into trying these drugs, which leads to addiction.
One drug that I see students around my age getting addicted to is nicotine, and it slowly has become an issue among our youths in the past few years. This is one of the most popular drugs that kids get addicted to because of how easy it is to get their hands on. Most youths starting in middle school get exposed to nicotine via vapes, mods, and other “nic hitters.”
The issue is an emergency; thus, we need to act now. I propose a need to show kids the dangers of drugs and the paths they could lead them down.
When it comes to what our community is doing to help with these issues there are a handful of programs they have for our youths. At North Central High School, where I attend, we have a sizable number of programs that help kids with addiction and show them the dangers of drugs and help them get help if they need it. In addition, our community offers over 35 different treatment centers around Spokane. According to Northpoint Washington, we have “15 free treatment programs, 17 inpatient rehab centers, one outpatient, three luxury residential, five drug & alcohol addiction detox centers, and 38 rehab centers.”
Oddly, I stumbled upon data that suggested that people were trying to almost justify kids doing drugs. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “The school system cares more about good grades than their student’s health. This is relevant because enough stress on the wrong person could overwhelm them and turn them to drugs to help them get away from the stress of a failing grade.” I see where they are coming from with this statement, but I disagree saying this is not doing any good for our youths by stopping the problem. This is one of those issues that you must find a solution for or else the issue will become worse.
Finally, what I am asking is that kids, adults, teachers, parents, and others realize these grave issues. All we need to do is bring awareness to this. We cannot wait till this becomes everyone’s big brother before we stand together to fight addiction (among) our youths. It will be a challenge but not near the challenge of watching it in your own home.