Teen Drug Use 'Worse' Than Ten Years Ago

Teen Drug Use 'Worse' Than Ten Years Ago
Posted by FoM on September 05, 1999 at 13:45:28 PT
By Jeff Stevens, Staff Writer
Source: Digital Basin
Almost 20 years after Nancy Reagan launched the “War on Drugs,” the most consistent casualties have been America’s children.
It would appear that Midland children are no less immune to the attack of substance abuse than their peers across the nation.The Midland Independent School District recently released a report that shows some 51 percent of last year’s graduating seniors have experimented with marijuana at least once and 86 percent have tried alcohol at least once.“Absolutely, it’s worse now than it was 10 years ago,” said Midland High School Principal Neil Richmond, who has been an educator for 28 years. “It’s because it’s (the availability of drugs and alcohol) more abundant.”The survey was released by guidance and counseling services at MISD, which is directed by Glenn Woods. Woods said the survey of sixth, eighth, tenth and 12th grade students is conducted randomly each year by Texas A & M. According to Woods, A & M randomly selects the students to be surveyed collates the data and reports the result to the district.Compared to previous years, the number of students experimenting with different substances increased slightly. In 1997-98, 33.8 percent of seniors had never experimented with tobacco compared to 31.5 never having tried tobacco in 1998-99. Alcohol usage declined slightly from 87.4 percent to 86.3 percent in 1998-99. Marijuana usage increased from 47.8 percent to 51 percent in 1998-99. Use of inhalants has remained at 21.9 percent for two years and cocaine usage decreased slightly from 23.8 percent to 23.2 percent in 1998-99.Woods pointed out that the survey doesn’t necessarily indicate that Midland students are a group of drug-crazed addicts. The survey only asked whether a student had tried (even one time) a particular substance.Either way, substance use is a problem of which the school district is well convinced, while being equally convinced that it’s a problem occurring primarily off campus. According to Richmond, drug-sniffing dogs randomly patrol the MHS campus. Just recently, the dogs were set loose on cars parked at the campus and only came up with one violation.A group of some 15 MHS students generally agreed with the principal’s assessment that most substance use occurs elsewhere.“I hear people talking about what they did on the weekend — how they got drunk or high,” said Kristina Rivera, a MHS junior.“I’ve known some people that have brought it (marijuana) to school,” said senior Kim Shields. Senior Mason Manulik interjected, however, that such an occurrence was rare and that he had never personally seen proof that his peers have brought alcohol or drugs to school.“Nobody’s got their trunk open selling drugs out of their car,” Manulik said, adding that he had never tried any substances. The students also agreed with Woods assessment that a one-time experiment did not an addict make.“I tried a cigarette once,” said Ms. Rivera. “It was disgusting.”She added that she had not tried any other substances, despite pressure from several friends to do so. “They ask me, ‘Do you want to go drink with us or get high?’ and I’m like, ‘NO.’”Other students agreed that they had drank and even experimented with marijuana, but wished that their parents not read such information in the newspaper.Eleventh grade student Trechia Smith said she had tried alcohol but didn’t like the taste of it and wouldn’t be trying it again.Senior Rachel Herro had similar comments. “I tried alcohol once but I vowed never to drink it again in my life. I would never advocate anything that could harm a person’s life like that.”In fact, a majority of students interviewed by the Reporter-Telegram said they had tried alcohol or some other substance, despite knowing the potential effects.“I think they do it just so they can look cool,” said Ms. Smith.“They don’t think it’s going to happen to them. Those are just statistics,” said Jay Ebbert, a senior.Junior Laura Koch said she’s heard her peers say they won’t get addicted or that the substances won’t effect them negatively. Which leaves the final question: “What can the district do to address the problem?”“I wish I knew what the answer was,” said Richmond.Richmond said part of the problem is the wide-spread availability of some substances and his students agreed.“If you want it bad enough, you can get it,” said Alicia Bradley, an MHS junior.“Everybody knows somebody who can hook them up with something, even if you don’t do that kind of stuff,” added Ms. Shields.The students also said that the illegality of drugs did little to keep the problem in check. They even said that alcohol could be bought by minors through bootleg operations.“There are some people that sell alcohol out of their homes,” said Ms. Smith.In the meantime, the district does what it can to curb the problem. Possession of tobacco on school property or at district sanctioned events and activities earns students a class “C” misdemeanor. More egregious violations such as possession of alcohol, illegal drugs or firearms falls under the district’s zero tolerance policy.According to Ricardo Torres, executive director of secondary education, students caught with such material will be automatically expelled for a minimum of 18 weeks for the first offense.The district also tries to combat the problem with truly random drug inspections with dogs, “Even I don’t know when they’re coming,” said Richmond. DARE and D-FY-IT are also anti-substance abuse programs the district sponsors.“I don’t think there is any question that drug and alcohol use is a problem across the country,” said Superintendent Joseph Baressi Jr. “And the school district and the school board is concerned about the illegal use of drugs.”Pubdate: September 5, 1999Digital Basin
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on September 06, 1999 at 13:41:43 PT:
Can't give up hope!
It does seem that way but we must believe that we will win. Everytime they get too haughty we get something better to counter it I think! Keep on hoping!Peace, FoM!
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Comment #1 posted by AFH on September 05, 1999 at 22:38:30 PT
Police we come.
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