The sun began to set on our junior year as the last bell of the school year rang. We were now seniors, seemingly all grown up in our immature minds.
We raced to our cars, trying to see who could get to the bonfire the fastest. The warm air hit my face as I drove. Windows down and music ringing for miles around me, I knew tonight we would finally feel free. I had made varsity caption – the title I had been working for since I walked through the doors freshman year. My crush had finally noticed me, Mom was working late, and Dad had left for good this time.
Everyone seemed to crowd me when I got to the bonfire, pushing others out of the way, hoping for a moment to talk to me.
It didn’t take long for me to find a drink in my hand and then another. The bitter liquid burned as it travelled through my body like melted gold, dulling the subconscious ache that sometimes bubbled up to haunt me. So, when someone handed me an unmarked shiny blue pill, I took it. In an instant, my madness turned into pure magic, and I could do nothing to stop it.
When the night began to become a new dawn, my crush and I made our way to my car. Our hands kept grazing each other’s all night until they intertwined as we walked between the car doors and slick rubber tires. Playfully pushing ourselves into the car, we decided to drive somewhere more remote.
As I drove us, the white lines on the road blurred. The world around us seemed to be spinning as we stood still, a moment frozen in time.
Bright light seemed to be traveling towards us, and we fell into pure darkness in an instant. Spinning around and around, the metal smashed everywhere. Trapping us further and further into the car.
Drug and Alcohol Use Among Teens
- Alcohol use fell from 21% to 17% among 8th graders, from 41% to 29% among 10th graders, and from 55% to 47% among 12th graders
- Marijuana use declined from 11% to 7% among 8th graders, from 28% to 17% among 10th graders, and from 35% to 31% among 12th graders
- Students who reported vaping nicotine dropped from 17% to 12% among 8th graders, from 31% to 20% among 10th graders, and from 35% to 27% among 12th graders
- The percentage of teens who had ever used any illicit drug other than marijuana dropped by more than 25% in 2021
- There were also significant declines in the use of drugs, including cocaine, hallucinogens, tranquilizers, and prescription opioids
Why Teens Use or Misuse Drugs & Alcohol
- A family history of substance abuse
- A mental or behavioral health condition, such as depression, anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Impulsive or risk-taking behavior
- A history of traumatic events, such as trouble at home or divorced parents
- Low self-esteem or feelings of social rejection
Consequences of Teen Drug and Alcohol Use
- Drug dependence: Teens who misuse drugs are at increased risk of serious drug use later in life.
- Poor judgment: Teenage drug use is associated with poor judgment in social and personal interactions.
- Sexual activity: Drug use is associated with high-risk sexual activity, unsafe sex, and unplanned pregnancy.
- Mental health disorders: Drug use can complicate or increase the risk of mental healthdisorders, such as depression and anxiety.
- Impaired driving: Driving under the influence of any drug can impair a driver’s motor skills, putting the driver, passengers, and others on the road at risk.
- Changes in school performance: Substance use can result in a decline in academic performance.
How to Talk to Your Teen About Drugs and Alcohol
- Discuss healthy ways to alleviate pressures: Today’s students are faced with immense pressure from academics to peer and social pressures, sports, and stress at home. Brainstorm with your teen on how they can alleviate these pressures using positive and healthy strategies instead of turning to harmful and dangerous substances.
- Ask your teen their views: Avoid lectures. Instead, create a safe space for both of you to have an ongoing dialogue and encourage them to ask questions. Assure your teen that they can be honest with you, and they can always reach out to you if they in an unsafe situation.
- Provide support: Offer praise and encouragement when your teen succeeds. A strong bond between you and your teen might help prevent your teen from using drugs and alcohol.