Drug abuse and illegal drug trade have become common vices in society. In the USA, the issue of substance abuse has been a major concern, especially, in high schools. Many individuals have adopted various perspectives on how the drug issue should be handled. For instance, some individuals contend that drug legalization is the only viable tool for handling the war on drugs.
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Thus, in a bid to reduce the social costs associated with the use of illegal drugs, governments usually enforce stringent rules and regulations. Generally, illicit drugs do not have a rightful place in the general public; they have little relevance in the secondary learning institutions. This paper focuses on the effects of alcohol and drugs on high school students.
Causes of Drug Abuse
There was a period when high school students in America were rated as the healthiest and most lively population. Nonetheless, an increase in drug consumption has today tarnished that reputation. Several factors account for the prevalence of drug abuse among students. There is a connection between a family’s financial status and misuse of drugs.
For example, a student from an extremely poor family may engage in drug abuse to nurse his frustrations. On the other hand, a student from a wealthy background may easily access alcohol at home or money to buy it. Today’s society also applies a lot of pressure on young students. This can make some of them to resort to drug abuse as a way of coping with their frustrations.
For example, many parents expect their children to perform well in school even if they are not academically endowed. Worse still, a student interested in nurturing his or her talent may be compelled by his parents to prepare for a conventional employment. Such a leaner can suffer serious depression, which can lead to misuse of drugs.
In high school, “students may abuse drugs so that they can feel grown-up, to fit and belong, to relax and feel good, to take and rebel, or to satisfy curiosity”. Many young students also tend to crave for peer recognition more than academic excellence. Adolescents never want to lose their social groups, and they also seek sociability and recognition from their age mates.
Hence, they can indulge in drug abuse in order to fit into their peer groups. Young adults who lack adequate parental care and affection have high chances of indulging in consumption of illicit drugs. According to Martin, “society also advertises the image of individual and social happiness for alcohol and drug users; this misconception results in the societal decrease of achievement, especially, of high school age students”.
There is a widespread notion in the society that alcohol enhances one’s social life, yet in most cases it has an opposite outcome. This notion can mislead students to misuse alcohol.
Impacts of Drugs
“Alcohol abuse has been a major concern in most schools because of its pernicious effects on the well-being and academic performance of students”. At present, one might contend that misuse of drugs among students has become an epidemic that has permeated many learning institutions. Alcohol is arguably the most commonly available hard-drug on the shelves that is within the reach of many students both at home and in school.
“The link between drug use and not liking school is strong, which is why it should be rationalized as a common factor to academic deficiency”. For example, in the U.S.A, dismal academic performance among some candidates is closely linked to substance abuse. Alcohol consumption impairs the capacity of a learner to concentrate in the learning environment; hence, it retards his or her academic performance.
For instance, a student who wakes up in a trance after a heavy drinking spree can boycott lessons or fail to accomplish and turn in course work assignments on time. Thus, there is a close connection between poor performance in academics and alcohol abuse. “National Bureau of Economics conducted a research in 1994 and revealed that students who consume beer or use marijuana are statistically less likely to graduate from high school than abstainers”.
Apart from poor academic performance, students who consume beer are often rebellious. This best explains why cases of violence are prevalent in many schools today. Unintentional deaths can also be caused by excessive ingestion of alcohol. Drunken students can easily obstruct traffic and cause fatal accidents on busy highways. Unfortunately, many students are oblivious of the impacts of these drugs on them and the society at large.
Besides alcohol, cocaine and marijuana are also commonly abused by students. Cocaine is not only a potent stimulant of the nervous system, but also a suppressant of appetite. In addition, it has the ability to cause anesthetic effects on the users. The most common forms of cocaine include salt cocaine, basic cocaine, and crack cocaine.
Cocaine is an illegal drug in the U.S. and other countries in the world, which means that its commercial production is not allowed. However, it is usually produced under controlled situations for medicinal purposes. The use of cocaine is associated with serious health conditions, such as heart attack. Its use is also associated with the rise in crime among students in various parts of America.
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Research further indicates that students who use a cocktail of hard drugs often stand high chances of suffering long-term brain damage that can be manifested in terms of poor memory and inability to grasp concepts in class. Empirical studies on the causes of crime among students in the U.S. A have found that the use of cocaine has a strong correlation with the increase in crime.
Most students that use cocaine live in the ghettos of American cities and other poor areas, where poverty, unemployment and low standards of living are prevalent. Since cocaine is very addictive, its users usually resort to crime in order to access it, especially, if they lack the money to purchase it. This involves stealing or robbing others in order to obtain the money for purchasing cocaine.
The use of cocaine has led to an increase in the proliferation of illegal guns in American learning institutions. Most of those who sell or use cocaine prefer to arm themselves with guns for self defense. Such weapons are often misused, and sometimes lead to the death of innocent students. As a powerful stimulant, consistent use of cocaine can prompt an individual to engage in violent crime and fighting in school.
Consumption of cocaine is associated with serious health conditions. Such health conditions include the following. First, cocaine has a powerful influence on the central nervous system. “The user normally experiences euphoria, increased energy or motor activity, feelings of competence, as well as, sexuality”. It is this kind of stimulation that prompts cocaine users to engage in acts of violence.
Second, overconsumption of cocaine leads to anxiety and paranoia. In some cases, the user becomes restless, or experiences very high temperature, convulsion and tremors. Apart from affecting the nervous system, the use of cocaine causes serious diseases, such as asthma, lung trauma, shortness of breath, and sore throat. These respiratory diseases are common among those who smoke cocaine.
Excess inhalation of cocaine is also a major cause of heart attack. Severe health conditions such as heart attack, and respiratory diseases are responsible for the rise in death cases among cocaine users. Such deaths have both social and psychological effects on relatives of the deceased. Friends and relatives may experience extreme grief due to the loss of one of their own. In some cases, the deceased relatives develop conditions such as depression which can lead to their death.
Parents who use cocaine in any of its forms are bad examples to their children because they may expose them to the drug, especially, when they keep it in their houses. Consequently, their children can easily access the drug and begin using it without their parent’s knowledge. Like any other drug, cocaine contributes significantly to the development of the subculture of crime.
Cocaine users are normally condemned and isolated by the rest of the society. Thus, cocaine users, especially the youth, tend to congregate and develop norms, which are unique to their lot. Such norms are meant to help them to retaliate for being isolated by the society. The crime subculture not only reinforces the use of cocaine, but also leads to the use of other drugs such as alcohol and marijuana.
The use of Marijuana is also prevalent among students, and it has negative effects on the health of its users. This has to do with the fact that it can cause mental illnesses and complications such as lack of concentration. It can lead to behavior disorders. Finally, its addiction is very difficult to deal with; hence, it is likely to have long-term effects on the users and the society.
Although Marijuana has devastating effects, it may be used on special medical grounds since it has been empirically proved that it has therapeutic effects. Modern research indicates that marijuana can be used to treat “neuropathic pain, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorder”.
Moreover, it can act as an alternative medicine to patients who have developed resistance to other medications commonly prescribed for patients. Nonetheless, students should not abuse it under the pretext of exploiting its medicinal value.
Although students that abuse Marijuana may not easily recognize its detrimental effects, they may slowly develop long-term heath complications. For example, they can suffer mental breakdown that is often manifested in form of unusual anxiety. Irrational fear can also be experienced at some stage in life.
When students begin consuming drugs, they often think that it is only for a season, and that they will eventually stop using them. However, they mostly risk being addicted to drugs which can ruin their future. The outcomes of drug abuse that range from malnutrition to long-term health complications have compelled many secondary learning institutions to incorporate health services.
Averagely, 66 percent of learning institutions across the U.S.A bestow health services that are dispensed by qualified psychologists. Over 80 percent of the states presently enforce drug use sensitization programmes in schools. Provisions of these health services in schools have further strained the already meager learning resources. Even the curriculum designers have had to rework the school programmes by incorporating health related lessons in the curriculum.
Thus, schools have assumed the primary role of educating children on moral issues, which was once handled at a family level. The nature of drug abuse in schools varies considerably from one institution to another. Hence, various schools handle their drug related challenges differently. In some schools, health lessons are mandatory and graded; in others, tutors plead with students to refrain from drugs.
The above analysis shows that hard drugs have pernicious effects on students and the society at large. This is because students that abuse drugs can cause chaos in school by engaging in unlawful acts. In some cases, it may lead to unplanned school dropout. Moreover, “illicit drugs cause health complications such as coma, low blood pressure, malnutrition, heart problems, and permanent destruction of tissue in the body”.
Thus, decisive steps and proper mechanisms should be adopted to handle this menace before it spirals out of control. The school authorities should not be overburdened with handling the challenge of drug abuse among students, but everyone should take responsibility and see to it that students stay away from drugs.
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Fields, Richard. Drugs in Perspective: A Personalized Look at Substance Use and Abuse. Ohio: McGraw-Hill, 2003. Print.
Martin, Robert. HIV, Substance Abuse, and Communication Disorders in Children. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
Richard, Jessor. Longitudinal Research on Drug Use. New York: Wiley, 2001. Print.