Teen Drug Use – Just Why?


Nurse Mandy and Nurse Julie at Hillcrest High School

Luke Hansen, Reporter

Teen drug use, let’s have a real talk. Teens use drugs as an escape but why do they do it? 

“…I think its mostly teens who have suffered from a past trauma…” Says Mr.Bedinghaus, a teacher from Hillcrest High school.  

“Bottom line is..they are wanting to be in a different place mentally,” Nurse Mandy Prosser of Hillcrest reports when asked what causes teens to resort to drugs.

“I think it’s possible.. I think that yeah mental health could have affected it. It also could have gone down due to availability…,”  as remarked from Mr. Shoemaker, teacher at Hillcrest. 

This is what teachers responded with when asked what causes teen drug use. The responses are all different, but they all come back to the root problem.  Some teens want to be somewhere else mentally. Being somewhere else mentally roughly translates to not having to deal with problems; but, doing drugs will ultimately cause more problems.

“Yes, I have seen kids who have started off doing really well, and then they tip their hat and start using, and then nothing is important anymore other than their next high,” Mrs. Williams, teacher at Hillcrest, adds.

Teen drug use is an adverse side effect in itself.  According to CeniKor, a leading drug rehabilitation center, the percent of teens who use drugs and alcohol has jumped from about 28% before March 2020 to about 30% during the pandemic. 

“ There’s a small percent of teens who use and abuse drugs, but we focus on that small amout,”  Nurse Mandy says.  

The numbers have changed a lot since 2018 when teen drug use was about 22%.  Drug use is currently at 30%. This is mainly caused by stress and anxiety due to the pandemic. 

“We  observed a large-scale shift in mental health and behavior compared to the observed baseline established for this group over the previous year… clearly the impact of Coronavirus extends beyond the virus and its immediate and its direct impacts,” stated by Jeremy Huckins, author from a study at Dartmouth University. 

“Sometimes people including teens self medicate with drugs,” claims Mrs. Frickenschmidt, teacher at Hillcrest High school.  

“… If I could smoke pain away, I would roll that m****f***** up, and take 2 puffs. I’m high now I’m high now…”  As quoted from Kendrick Lamar’s song Fear. 

“… Smoke this, drink this…” As schoolboy boyq stated in his song “Collard Greens.” 

Teens today are surrounded by influence from celebrities glorifying drugs, friends taking them, and constantly being told not to do them. To most teens that suffer an addiction they don’t have role models in their personal life, so they look up to R&B artists and rappers that talk about drugs. 

“If you look at vaping and cigarette use, they don’t start off addicted. They start off because someone told them they would look cooler and fit in…if someone was to sit down and think how would this take away my stress?” As stated by Mrs. Williams.  

Most teens start off as a way to fit in or feel like they fit in instead of a stress reliever, and a massive leading cause is peer pressure. Peer pressure isn’t forcing someone to try, but as more of a way to fit in around your friends. Teens are in a vulnerable stage where they don’t know themselves and want to run with the crowd, therefore leading to drug use in multiple instances. 

They will do whatever it takes to fit in, even if it means going against their parents’ wishes.” as quotes by  Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, writer at U.S. News. 

There are multiple long term effects of teen drug use some of which are not being able to feel pleasure, long and short term memory loss, and trouble learning. These are all caused by the damage done to the neurotransmitters in the brain. The social risks are criminal records which can prevent you from getting a job in the long term, therefore leading to poverty and depression which can make this cycle begin again.

“Springfield is at a crossroads where people are coming in and traveling the area… where everybody can bring anything in…” says Mr. Shoemaker. 

Most of the people interviewed said the same thing: there is an abundance of drugs in Springfield, but Hillcrest gets a bad wrap for drug use. 

“I think we should have a strong stance. There should be more of a punishment, but that doesn’t fix everything. We have tried everything under the sun to try to show the effects of drugs. I think its going to have to be a movement from you guys (teenagers today).  It’s going to have to be a youth movement saying enough is enough. I think harsh punishments are not going to fix the problem neither is talking about our feelings,”  Mr. Shoemaker said when asked what he would change about SPS policies and punishments. 

There is going to have to be more than harsh punishments and talking about our feelings to help combat teen drug use. Youth are going to have to come together and stop it as a whole.