Earlier this year the freshman, sophomore and senior class had an assembly about the dangers of abusing drugs, including prescription drugs. The presentation was given by the SAP (Student Assistance Program) coordinator, Darrin Donmoyer. The presentation included facts and statistics about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs, second place only to the most common drug of choice among teens, marijuana.
Abuse of prescription drugs has become more prevalent than cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine all combined, according to national statistics.
Some of the statistics could be called terrifying, as emergency visits due to prescription overdose have gone up 300 percent in the country.
“Just because it’s prescribed by a doctor or sold in stores doesn’t mean it’s safe,” said Donmoyer.
Drugs can cause problems for people despite their family and friends, and sometimes because of them.
“Half my family tells me not to do it and the other half shoves a bowl in my face,” one student said about the pressure they feel toward using drugs.
One student said they did it just because it was there, starting with a sister and a couple of friends.
Although nearly every student in the Penn Manor district learned about the dangers of substance abuse in elementary school, some students have tried drugs and alcohol, and despite the known risks, abuse substances regularly.
Some will be caught.
Officer Jason Hottenstein estimated between two and ten students will probably be caught this year in school with a banned substance but “every student knows the consequences.”
Although 20 students openly admitted to trying drugs or alcohol at least once in their lifetime for this article, the good news is, the assumption that everyone is doing it is false.
Donmoyer said a school-wide survey showed only 14 percent of tenth graders have smoked marijuana in the last 30 days and 22 percent of twelfth graders and a mere 4 percent of eighth graders have smoked in the last 30 days.
“I’ve helped students voluntarily enter in-patient and out-patient rehab centers if that’s what they are willing to do,” said Donmoyer. ” I can’t make them do anything they don’t want to. But the assistance is there for them when they are ready.”
At least two students agreed they use drugs to “get away from reality.”
“I’m a concern-free person. When you live on the edge like me, you don’t need concerns,” said one.
But not everyone interviewed had a care-free attitude about drugs.
Another student spoke about the fear of “never waking up again.”
The answers were often blunt and straight-forward.
One student said the only thing that could make them quit would be, “me, myself, and I.”
One of the many students interviewed who had never tried drugs or alcohol said “I don’t want to conform to that lifestyle.”
Though this person admitted to going to parties about once a month, the person said they have never had the desire to do drugs or alcohol.
The Penn Manor students who said they use drugs, mostly used marijuana.
According to government studies, up to 30 percent of teens smoke marijuana. Marijuana, commonly known as weed, pot, hash, and by many other names is one of the most popular drugs.
Surprisingly, several Penn Manor students were more than willing to share how much they enjoy using this drug.
“Because it tastes good,” one student said about why they do it.
One student said, ” It’s a good way to enjoy yourself as long as you know what you’re doing.”
From the information found from abovetheinfluence.com any substance classified as a street drug is addictive, contrary to popular belief. It is commonly thought that marijuana isn’t addictive, this has been proven to be completely false. Most teens who are in treatment for drug problems receive a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependency. This diagnosis is more common than the primary diagnosis of all other illicit drug dependencies combined.
Every student who admitted trying marijuana at least once also said they have gone beyond the use of just that drug. Some of the other drugs students admitted they have used included ecstasy, mushrooms, salvia, heroin, acid, methamphetamines, LSD, amphetamines, alcohol, various inhalants and prescription drugs.
The only drugs that came close to being as popular as marijuana were the numerous forms of prescription drugs that students can get their hands on.
There was an 80 percent increase for kids who do use prescription drugs over the last 10 years in the country.
“I like the feeling I get from trying different pills,” one student stated.
It’s been said that popping pills takes pain away and according to one student interviewed “makes you forget.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and family services, doctors will recommend that you only use prescription pills as directed.
These drugs can be seriously harmful physically and mentally and they can be as addictive as street drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Some students are more than willing to risk the dangers of using drugs and becoming addicted and even the pain of trying to quit in the future.
Officer Jason Hottenstein said, “They’re not making the right life decisions, it’s all peer pressure.”
Many of the students started using because their friends or family members such as siblings and cousins got them into using. Three of the 25 students interviewed said they have parents who use drugs openly.
“I tried to quit once. But my mom didn’t understand, and kept me using,” one student recalled.
A small portion of those interviewed said they use to “have fun” and “have a good time”.
Most students will say there is a deeper reason as to why they use drugs and alcohol, not to just fit in or have a good time, but get away from pain in their lives.
“A quick fix for the pain is all that matters,” as one student had said.
Drug addiction often becomes overwhelming. Students who have drug problems can seek help through the school’s SAP program which is both voluntary and confidential.
The SAP team is a great tool for bettering one’s life. Donmoyer says what he wants to do for Penn Manor students is to assist in “setting them up for success.”
By Kim Blake and Kendall Seigworth