Substance use among students becomes normalized

Staff Editorial

The usage of drugs and other illegal substances has escalated at George County High School and has left students and faculty desensitized to these occurrences.

Over the last month, drugs and substances such as THC in vape pods and marijuana have all been found on campus.  Following the discovery of such substances has led to an arrest being made. George County High School has a “No Tolerance” policy meaning that no substances are allowed anywhere on campus at any time. In accordance with the George County High School Handbook, vaping and e-cigarettes are strictly prohibited and result in a Step 5 offense, which leads to a maximum of 5 days in O.S.S (Out of school suspension). Substances like drugs and alcohol are a Step 6 offense that can lead to a maximum of 10
days O.S.S., expulsion or alternative school.

Peer pressure is a large factor in youth substance usage. The pressure that comes with being “cool” and “popular” can drive students to conform to illegal drugs or other forms of addictive contraband. For most individuals drugs, nicotine, and other substances are becoming a “new normal.” The attitude that has developed around the stigma of vaping and using is the “I don’t care mindset.” It has become a joking point for many youths.

Adults influence teens through their actions. The adults in students’ lives need to lead by ex-ample. For example, if students see an officer vaping and the same officer turns around and harps on vaping, they lose trust and respect in the officer. At that point teens ask themselves “Why should I listen to them?”.

A major health concern surrounding vaping or using recreational marijuana is the addiction they can lead to. The more often these drugs and nicotine are used in a body’s system, the harder it becomes to quit. Even if an addict decides to stop, it is never that simple. Withdrawals will occur when users stop giving their bodies the substances it depends on. During withdrawals the body will attempt to shut down. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2017, 19.7 million Americans ranging from 12 and older battled substance use disorder.
Fueling the addiction comes with a hefty price tag. Life tied to a vape can cost users approximately $1,000 annually. For many high school students this lifestyle would be very difficult to maintain.

Substances have become highly accessible through very effective means. Students can access substances through places such as: adults, peers and stores not following the correct protocol. In the community alone there are at least four stores that sell such products.

Companies embellish the image of using e-cigarettes and vapes making them more appealing to consumers, specifically youth. Companies market vaping as “a wonderful experience” and have flavors like blueberry, cotton candy, mango and many other fruity flavors. Companies that sell vape pods are
only looking to make the next buck and are not being conscientious to their constituents.

Working to change the narrative can be implemented at the high school. One way we can improve this is by conducting more non-bias drug searches throughout the school. These searches should happen more regularly and occur randomly throughout the school. The increased presence of officers at the school could help mitigate and catch offenders. An increase in the strictness of the rules would also discourage the use of such substances.

Another solution the high school could offer is a counselor-based program that helps students struggling with substance use problems, allowing them a safe environment to express themselves and receive the help they need. The program would be used specifically for students with substance usage problems that would cater to how exactly they need help. This program could also be used to spread awareness throughout the district about the concerns that substance abuse can cause. If the program could work to address the younger group of students then the problem at the high school level would be less severe in years to come.

Working together to address and solve the problems substance abuse brings should be a priority for George County High School.