High School Drug Culture

The impact of vape devices and synthetic drugs on high school students and the accessibility of rehabilitation


Multiple Xanax pills that equal approximately 2mg (Photo via Flickr.com under the Creative Commons License).

   Remember the joy associated with Red Ribbon Week during elementary school? The teachers passing out little red bracelets with short statements renouncing drug use? The chain link fences decorated with a sea of red ribbon? Catchy phrases that warned of drug use plastered on classroom walls? And most importantly, the belief and hope that we students would grow up to be drug free?

  Though Red Ribbon Week continues within middle and high school, there is a lack of seriousness associated with renouncing drug use, as the vulnerability of teenage years is commonly combated with drug use, a dangerous hobby that quickly evolves to an addiction.

  Whether drugs use has sparked from the desire to numb childhood trauma, a catalyst to fit in with a specific social group or to suppress the stress of developing a self identity, the drug culture ranging from students on high school campuses to pop culture idols wrongly glorifies drug use.

 “Right now we may not be thinking about families, or jobs or whatever, but right now we are setting the base and we have to take care of our brains and bodies,” says School Nurse Mrs. Flaugher, who has seen an influx of students with critical illnesses and a decline of mental capacity caused by drug use.

  The rising popularity of the vape industry and synthetic drugs, specifically Xanax, has reached this level of popularity through strategic marketing techniques that advertise these products as healthier alternatives or mood altering and anxiety reducing.

  This leads students to engage in drug use on campus due to the seemingly harmless appeal, in which students are commonly caught using drugs when teachers grow suspicious of their absurd behavior caused by the sensation of being high.

  They are then sent to the health office, where Mrs. Flaugher examines the student with a combination of medical and protocol techniques she learned in police training for school nurses. As a precaution, she suggests the students be evaluated by a physician and receive emergency evaluation.

  Once students are able to return to school, recommendations for counseling centers, adolescent inpatient and outpatient treatment centers (Newport Academy, Chapman Rehab and Teen Challenge Orange County) and the mental health department of CHOC Hospital may be arranged through Mrs. Flaugher or School Psychologists Mrs. Simons and Ms. Olson.

  Utilize the resources presented with a desire to go back to the healthy adolescent mindset to live, work and socialize in a community without drug use.

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