There are 873 teen overdose deaths and that number is increasing to 4 deaths to every 100,000 teens every year on since 2016. In previous years, overdose death rates were dropping until 2015 when those rates started rising again. Most overdoses were documented from the drug opioid heroin and fentanyl and more than half of all drug users are under 18. The United States continues to have the highest death rate by overdose and when teens and the rate of drug abuse is rising, every death by overdose is sensitive.
Why teens start drugs in the first place plays a major role in all of it. Some common reasons teens start taking drugs is because they may be curious, peer pressure, stress, mental health, and/or a desire to “escape”. Many teens fall into drug abuse because of high school as they might gain stress or fall into the wrong crowd. Some teens do not start with hard drugs but maybe start with vapes, cigarettes, alcohol, or even marijuana. As these are what can be considered “gateway drugs”, as teens start to feel the “high” they crave more and lead on to harder drugs.
Typically, teens obtain their drugs from various drug dealers. Whether these dealers come from gangs or just friends, the drugs are easily obtainable and bought on school grounds. The source of these drugs however, are unknown and these drugs can be even more dangerous because they can be laced with other harmful products. Furthermore, these informally obtained drugs can lead to death because of their toxicity levels.
Sometimes parents and/or guardians play a role. Parents and/or guardians who take drugs can influence their children/teens in one of two ways. One, children may imitate their parents and begin abusing drugs. Two, some teens may learn from their parents and realize how bad and life-altering drugs can be.
There are also times when teens who want help do not want to admit they have a problem with drugs to their parents in fear of the consequences. Teens may feel as if they will be in trouble or do not trust the individual they are confiding in. This is why parents need to be understanding and compassionate. By being straightforward with their teenage children, they may open up about needing help with addiction. Teens who feel safe or loved in an environment are more likely to get the right help and stop the use of drugs.
If a teen does seek help, there are many ways to help them. Since there is stress and depression among teens these days, it is very common that they may have problems with alcohol or marijuana. In these cases, it is best to seek emotional support like a psychologist or even a close friend to talk to. If it is something more serious, there are many teen treatment centers designated for teens as they have educational support so teens do not fall behind in school. The most important thing to remember is: the earlier an addiction is taken care of, the easier the recovery will be.
Jasmin Song, Grade 9
Academy of the Canyons