How Teens Find Drugs
As adults in this world, protecting children from all of the atrocities and negativity can be daunting. In fact, sometimes it’s close to impossible. But what you can do is prepare yourself for the future. Drugs and alcohol will be present in the lives of your children, but it’s their choice whether they pick up or not. What you can do is educate yourself on how teens find drugs, why they do them, and what puts them at a higher risk to become addicted. Many parents are left wondering wonder where kids can get drugs and the answer is: at school.
Drugs are found in schoolsWhen we’re talking about young people, the first question that always comes to mind is, how do they get the drugs? Approximately 40 percent of 12th graders, 30 percent of 10th graders, and 13 percent of 8th-grade kids have used a drug. Despite the fact that it’s illegal for kids to be using drugs, it’s clear that many are doing so. In fact, every month 35 percent of high schoolers drink alcohol. Many drug transactions occur on school grounds where they are sold amongst peers. In their school environment, kids have access to a larger pool of possible drugs than when they are in their own social groups. Kids who sell drugs often earn their best business by secretly selling them during school hours. Another possibility is that teens may obtain fake IDs that they are able to buy alcohol with. Seven percent of high school kids have used a fake ID to get alcohol at some point. As technology evolves it has become more difficult for traditional scanning machines to tell if IDs are real or fake. There are even online businesses that take pictures of an underage person and create a fake driver’s license. If that’s not an option, teens often resort to using IDs from older siblings or friends who look like them to buy alcohol. In the U.S., teens use alcohol more than any other type of illicit substance. Alcohol also causes the most harm and it’s responsible for 200,000 ER visits and 4,300 deaths among adolescents under the age of 21 each year. Almost a quarter of high school kids in the U.S. use at least one type of illicit substance. The substances most commonly used by high schoolers besides alcohol include:
- Opioid painkillers
- Cough medicine
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
Where else do adolescents obtain drugs?
- Drugs at home. If your teen is using drugs or alcohol they might be getting these substances from the comfort of your own home. If your bathrooms are home to prescription pills, your teen could have access to begin using these drugs. If you use other substances that you keep at home such as marijuana, be mindful of the fact that your kids could access your supply as well. The same goes for alcohol. If you have a liquor cabinet without a lock, your kids have the freedom to take what they want.
- Buying drugs online. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the internet is being used to buy illicit substances because you can use it for anything in today’s world. Drug vendors have taken advantage of this fact. A section of that internet that is inaccessible without authorization or special software is called the dark web and it was used for illegal activities like drug sales. In 2013 the government removed Silk Road, an online marketplace for drugs that boasted over $1 billion in sales. Although Silk Road has been shut down, other similar sites remain on the internet.
- Online pharmacies. There are many sites across the website that pose as legitimate pharmacies. These “pharmacies” are not U.S. based and therefore do not need to abide by U.S. laws. Teens can go online and order prescription medications and have them delivered to their home. This is dangerous because you won’t know what your teen is getting. These pharmacies could scam them with sugar pills, or in other cases mix the medication with something deadly. You never know what you are getting.
What parents and teachers can do about teen drug use?Seeing or hearing about teen drug use can be overwhelming, but it’s important you are knowledgeable about what’s really going on. Keep yourself updated on what signs of teen substance use look like. Pay attention to your prescriptions and substances in your home. Monitor your teens’ internet use and browser history. Most importantly, you should keep an open dialogue with the adolescents in your life. They should feel comfortable talking to you about drug use and about what’s going on at school and with their peers. You can help educate them on the dangers and risks involved with drug and alcohol use. Understanding the environment and relationships that your teens take part in can help you pave the way to a healthy and drug-free life for them.
Written by: Kelly Fitzgerald