Essay on Drug Abuse Among High School Students

Published: 2021/11/09
Number of words: 1285

There is a common notion that individuals who engage in drugs are inherently “bad people.” This may not be true as there is nothing like “bad people,” but there are challenges. In most cases, it is these challenges that drive people into using drugs. High school students are not unique as they also experience their fair share of challenges. Challenges, including physical changes, behavioral changes, and psychological problems, are prevalent among high school students as most during this time are usually at the peak of adolescence (Morris and Rushwan 40). More significantly, such challenges can lead to depression and the weak, particularly those who find it challenging to seek help find themselves using drugs as a form of escapism. Depression is amongst the many reasons why high school students engage in drug abuse.

Adolescent depression is also known as teenage depression, and it is very much similar to adult depression (Forbes, and Dahl 13). Nevertheless, the symptom may manifest themselves differently due to developmental and social problems facing the teen. Some of these symptoms include frustration, the feeling of sadness, loss of interest, low self-esteem, and frequent thoughts of death (Morris and Rushwan 41). Teen depression is treatable, but these symptoms often escalate, making the teenager to use drugs and alcohol in order to feel better. Alcohol may diminish the feeling of sadness, and drugs such as marijuana may stimulate the brain to produce the feel-good hormones that make the teen feel healthy and happy. Marijuana and other drugs may mask the symptoms for a short while, but their damages may destroy the central nervous system and even worse depression over time (Horigian et al. 61). Studies indicate that teenagers who accustomed themselves to using marijuana end up developing other mental illnesses, including Schizophrenia (Terry-McElrath et al. 74). Terry-McElrath et al. established that the perpetual use of marijuana leads to psychosis, a condition that affects the brain’s processing power, leading to Schizophrenia (75).

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Moreover, it is essential to note that high school students are often under constant pressure to perform academically, the stress to be their own person independent from their parents, and constant pressure to deal with the frequent hormonal and physical changes happening in their body (Schwinn et al. 27). In addition to these pressures, high school students are often under constant scrutiny from their peers and classmates, and they often struggle to fit in order to do things that earn them approval. According to Scull et al., the constant pressure to blend in and gain approval is often overwhelming, leading to instances of depression and other mental instances (982). It is often during this time that high school students engage in intensive substance abuse. The pressure to feel connected to others in high school is often acute and can leave individuals filled with blames regarding their nature (Dumas et al. 923). For instance, the teen may connect their disassociation from peers to instances, including their race and ethnicity, which can be detrimental in the long term. It is also worth noting that high school is particularly notorious for being filled with groups and cliques that define themselves through certain behaviors. These groups assign themselves different statuses and behaviors, and for other members to join, they are forced to replicate or imitate the behaviors. To fit within these groups, most feel pressured to change things about themselves or pretend that they are different from who they are.

Studies show a prevalent connection between depression and drug abuse, with individuals diagnosed with mood disorder being twice as likely to engage in substance abuse (Klomek et al. 41). More importantly, the effects of teen depression can creep up on an individual so slowly that they may not understand what they are dealing with until it is too late. More importantly, the unbearable pain triggered by depression can lead high school students to stimulants so as they can feel happy (Klomek et al. 42). The stress and disinterest that comes with depression can quickly be reversed with a bottle of wine or cocaine. Importantly, when the individual does not recognize that they are dealing with depression, the unhealthy ways of coping soon become a norm (Gauffin et al. 1444). In other words, depression leads individuals to drug addiction that, at times, lasts into adulthood.

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Reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, indicate that 74 percent of adults with substance abuse problems started using drugs before they reached the age of 17 (“School and Campus Health”). Many who began using drugs at the age of 11 or younger were more likely to engage in multiple addictions than those who did not engage in drugs until they were 25 years or older (“School and Campus Health”). This is to say that high school students who start using drugs in their early years of high school may end up engaging in the use of hard drugs such as heroin, crack, and meth. This happens because anytime individuals use drugs, their brains reward the behavior and then demand high levels of those behaviors. For instance, if an individual started with a glass of wine, they may end up using cocaine or meth due to the ever-increasing level of satisfaction triggered by the individual’s brain.

Depression is a prevalent mental health disorder, and a significant reason high school students engage in drug abuse. In most cases, drug abuse and depression are often diagnosed together in high school students. Many instances trigger teen depression, which eventually leads to substance abuse. Some of these instances include psychological and physical changes prevalent in adolescence. In like manner, the constant pressure to blend in and gain approval is often overwhelming and can sometimes lead to depression and other mental instances. During these times, high school students use drugs as a form of escapism or to forget the troubles associated with these instances. However, and despite the circumstance, teen depression is treatable, and therapy has proven to help teenagers overcome these menace.

Works Cited

Dumas, Tara M. et al. “Identity Development as A Buffer of Adolescent Risk Behaviors in The Context of Peer Group Pressure and Control.” Journal of Adolescence, vol. 35, no. 4, 2012, pp. 917-927.

Forbes, Erika E., and Ronald E. Dahl. “Research Review: Altered Reward Function in Adolescent Depression: What, When and How?” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 53, no. 1, 2011, pp. 3-15.

Gauffin, Karl et al. “Childhood Socio-Economic Status, School Failure and Drug Abuse: A Swedish National Cohort Study.” Addiction, vol. 108, no. 8, 2013, pp. 1441-1449.

Horigian, Viviana E et al. “Principles for Defining Adverse Events in Behavioral Intervention Research: Lessons from A Family-Focused Adolescent Drug Abuse Trial.” Clinical Trials: Journal of The Society for Clinical Trials, vol. 7, no. 1, 2010, pp. 58-68.

Klomek, Anat Brunstein et al. “Suicidal Adolescents’ Experiences with Bullying Perpetration and Victimization During High School as Risk Factors for Later Depression and Suicidality.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 53, no. 1, 2013, pp. 37-42.

Morris, Jessica L., and Hamid Rushwan. “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health: The Global Challenges.” International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, vol. 131, 2015, pp. 40-42.

“School and Campus Health”. Samhsa.Gov, 2020,

Schwinn, Traci M. et al. “Preventing Drug Abuse Among Adolescent Girls: Outcome Data from an Internet-Based Intervention.” Prevention Science, vol. 11, no. 1, 2009, pp. 24-32.

Scull, Tracy M. et al. “Adolescents’ Media-Related Cognitions and Substance Use in The Context of Parental and Peer Influences”. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 39, no. 9, 2009, pp. 981-998.

Terry-McElrath, Yvonne M. et al. “Simultaneous Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among US High School Seniors from 1976 To 2011: Trends, Reasons, And Situations.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 133, no. 1, 2013, pp. 71-79.

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