By Simon Templar

It’s a silent epidemic that nobody speaks about. Parents literally bury their heads in the sand and pretend that it’s not happening. Then when the doo-doo hits the proverbial fan, its way too late and the consequences are usually devastating and life altering. This creeping epidemic is called TEENAGE DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE. The cold, hard fact is that today in America kids leave high school as bonifide drug and alcohol addicts. And its only getting worse.

It is devastating to imagine that your teenage son or daughter or relative may be abusing drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, today it is very common to find drugs and alcohol in high school, since these substances are so easy for kids to acquire.

The blunt facts are that your, respectful and loving teenager will enter high school as a child, but make no mistake: he or she will graduate as a young adult. This four-year high school period is deeply transformational — full of growth, hardships and self-discoveries. It’s also an experimental time — and for millions of American teenagers that means trying drugs and alcohol. Sadly, unless there is serious and firm interventions, many teens doing drugs and alcohol during this time will suffer serious consequences as a result of substance use, including long-term addiction.

Let’s start with alcohol a readily and easily available substance. Young people 12 to 20 years drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States. [Source: Teen Rehab Center]. This is an alarming statistic that flies under the radar as the local and national focus is oftentimes on adult alcohol use and drug abuse, and society as a whole do not want to believe that “young children” in these age groups are boozers – chronic drunks – and addicts. More alarmingly is the is the grim statistics of teenage drug and alcohol abuse that reveal a whopping 86% of this age group know someone who smokes (marijuana and cigarettes), drinks or does drugs during the normal school day. And it gets progressive worse.

Consider the facts:

In the U.S., teenagers abuse alcohol more than any illicit drug. Not surprisingly, it causes the most harm. Teenager alcohol abuse is directly and indirectly responsible each year for nearly 200,000 emergency room visits and 4,300 deaths among kids under 21 years old. And the following statistics show and demonstrate just how insidious alcohol abuse is among America’s children attending high schools across the nation.

• 68% of 12th graders have

tried alcohol

• 37.4% of 12th graders drank

in the last month

• 23.5% of 10th graders drank in

the last month

Among high schoolers,

within the month they were

surveyed:

• 35% drank some alcohol

• 21% binge drank

(consuming an e

xcessive amount)

• 22% rode in someone’s

car who’d been drinking

• 10% drove after drinking

Now let’s talk marijuana also called “weed” or “pot.”  10 percent of high school students with a Grade A smoke marijuana and 40 percent of students averaging a D or an F grade. Fact is that marijuana is the favorite drug of choice for American high schoolers, more of them smoke “weed” than cigarettes.

According to U.S. experts, around 13% of people who start smoking pot as teenagers in high school become dependent on it. Medical experts say that regular marijuana use can cause a significant drop in IQ of up to 8 points. Considering that nearly 3,300 teens try weed for the first time every day, it’s an undeniable problem that’s impacting high schoolers across the United States.

The statistics show that marijuana use is both rampant and pervasive in ALL of America’s high school system:

• 35.1% of 12th graders

have smoked pot in the past year

• 21.3% of 12th graders

have smoked pot in the last

30 days

• 16.6% of 10th graders

have smoked pot in the last

30 days

• 6% of 12th graders say they use

marijuana every day

• 81% of 12th graders say it is

easy to get marijuana

• Only 32% of 12th graders feel that regular marijuana use is harmful

According to one study, 12th graders who smoke marijuana are 65% more likely to crash their car. Among 12th graders in the U.S., one out of eight drove after smoking marijuana at some point in the last two weeks — one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking AND drinking.

It is no secret that alcohol and drug abuse among America’s teenage and high school population is now a full-blown epidemic. Medical experts and social workers have been pointing out the unintended consequences spawned by this epidemic. From brain abnormalities to chronic impaired memory loss alcohol drug and alcohol abuse can cause life-long damage.

These experts told CARIBBEAN TIMES NEWS that sustained use of these substances deplete certain chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin, sending high schoolers into a prolonged chronic depression leaving them susceptible to more destructive behavior – including suicide. Alcohol abuse in high school impacts the brain just as hard as other drugs. Memory problems and other life-long brain issues are common in high schoolers that drink excessively. And kids who start before age 15 are 6 times more likely to develop alcoholism later in life than individuals who wait until 21.

Substance abuse in high school can also cause stunted growth — in one study, high school boys addicted to weed were an average of 4.6 inches shorter when they reached age 20. High schoolers can find drugs through a friend, through word-of-mouth and on the Internet. Most kids needn’t look any further than their school — nearly 44% of high school students know a classmate who sells drugs. [Source: Teen Rehab Center].

And there is yet another a very worrying alcohol and drug abuse trend: Women are the fastest growing demographic of alcohol and drug use in the United States, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). As many as 4.5 million women over the age of 12 have a substance use disorder (SUD), 3.5 million misuse prescription drugs and 3.1 million regularly abuse illicit drugs. Among girls ages 12-17, non medical use of prescription painkillers, alcohol, methamphetamine and many other illicit drugs now either match or exceed that of boys the same age. Of the 6.5 million Americans who misused or abused prescription drugs in 2013, more than half were female.

Yes, America is growing a population of drug addicts.

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