teenage drug abuse

Teenage Drug Abuse in High School

High school is tough for many teenagers.  There’s the pressure of trying to fit in (or at least not stand out); there’s the challenge of trying to juggle sports, clubs, and academics with spending time with friends and family; and there’s the ever-looming question all high school students eventually hear, “Are you going on to college and, if so, where?” And, if not, “What will you do?”

That’s a lot to think about when you’re a teen.

Throw into that mix all the emotional and physical changes that happen during the teenager years and eventually the stress, pressure and expectations from peers, family and self are just too much for some teens to handle alone. What’s the result? Many high school students choose to experiment with drugs to temporarily numb their feelings, blur their thoughts and quiet their common sense.

While teens are still experimenting with drugs as they have for decades, the difference is – there’s a profound rise of drug use among today’s high school students.


As precarious and deadly as this narcotic is, heroin use among high schoolers is at an all-time high.  Why? It’s inexpensive; in many neighborhoods, heroin costs less than a 6-pack of beer. Next, it’s easily accessible. In all communities with all demographics, heroin is available. High schoolers no longer have to drive down to their city’s version of skid row or the projects to buy heroin from a dealer on the corner. Today it’s available right in the suburbs. Another reason there’s a rise in the use of heroin today among high school students is the same reason it was prevalent back in the 60s – the instant high obtained from smoking it or injecting it. Whether they’re accessing it from a local dealer on the streets or from a neighbor’s basement, heroin’s purity and potency can never be counted on to be consistent. With this increase in use and decrease in consistent ingredients, the increase of deaths by overdose is rising as well. In fact, deaths by a heroin overdose are more prevalent today than violent crime or auto crashes.


Perhaps because it’s both legal for those of drinking age and readily–accessible in home kitchen cabinets, many high school students today opt to experiment freely with alcohol. From mixing hard liquor with juices and soft drinks to drinking beer from kegs and coolers, it is not uncommon to find alcohol in some form at most high school parties today.  Often times the addiction for alcohol starts at an early age when young teens experiment with mouthwash or cough syrup.


With more states legalizing medical marijuana and others legalizing recreational marijuana consumption, many high school students today see no harm in using this drug. Of course, the biggest controversial issue with the rise in the use of this drug is that a teenager’s brain is not fully developed yet and marijuana use causes long-term, detrimental effects on the child’s brain. In a 2013 study, it was found that heavy cannabis use starting in the teen years and continued after high school causes a decline in the user’s IQ.

From tobacco, ecstasy, designer drugs, bath salts and acid, to cocaine, oxycontin, meth and everything in between, there’s lots of different street, prescription, man-made and naturally-grown drugs that teens experiment with, abuse and often become addicted to. However, these three drugs in particular, are on the rise among high school users today. Combine the factors of affordability, accessibility and their naturally-addictive components and it’s easy to see how so many teenagers today can get caught in the unforgiving and indiscriminate web of drug use.

Teen Treatment Programs and Help

If you have a teen that is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and are in need of help, call to connect to a treatment center at 866-644-7911 and review the inpatient and outpatient treatment options.

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