The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that substance use among teens can:
Informed Families Blog
With marijuana being legalized in more and more states, many teens now believe it's safe for them to use. But evidence shows it's not. Make sure you and your kids can separate fact from fiction when it comes to marijuana.
MYTH: It’s safer than alcohol
FACT: Alcohol and marijuana are both associated with serious problems, especially if used by teens and young adults under age 21 – when the brain and body are still rapidly developing.
MYTH: It’s okay to drive while high
FACT: After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of driver’s involved in crashes.
According to the 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey:
- Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug by adolescents.
- One in four 12th graders say they vaped nicotine in the past month, along with 1 in 5 10th graders, and nearly 1 in 10 eighth graders.
- Many teens say they vape for the flavor, to experiment, for social reasons, or to feel good.
- From 2018-2019, the number of 12th graders saying they vape because they are "hooked" more than doubled to 8.1%, up from 3.6%.
Parents and educators can join others across the country to help students make informed decisions by sharing fact-based information about drugs and alcohol.
A small girl at Redland Middle School waited patiently for the other students surrounding filmmaker Erahm Christopher to leave so she could ask one question: What is the time of tonight’s screening? I really want my Mom to come and see the film.
Informed Families partnered with Mr. Christopher to host a screening of his film LISTEN at Redland Middle School on February 6, 2020. Themes covered in the film include bullying, cyber bullying, racism, gang violence and suicide. Following the screening, students had a chance ask Mr. Christopher questions and voice their thoughts and feelings about the issues featured in the film. The response was overwhelming.
According to Soraya Herran, a guidance counselor at Redland Middle School, the next day “the students couldn’t stop talking about the film and discussion they had participated in.”
Middle school is a wonderful, crazy and confusing time for kids. Their hormones begin to kick into high gear, they are becoming more self-aware and independent, and they begin to feel more like adults and less like children. Indeed, the “middle” in middle school is appropriate—these kids are not quite ready for high school, and in many ways, still behave like tweens.
This is exactly why middle school is not too soon to talk to your students about drugs; in fact, many prevention professionals would tell you to start talking much earlier. In an effort to act older, students may engage in riskier behavior, like trying drugs and alcohol, but as younger teens (as may also be true for older teens), they might not be equipped to understand the consequences of their choices. Florida middle schools cannot be shy or naively believe, “Oh, these kids are too young for this kind of talk.” The reality is, they aren’t too young—this is a perfect time to spread the message about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Here are some important points for educators to keep in mind as they do:
Plenty of information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol is available from parent resource centers on the Internet. These online outlets are valuable for parents who want to learn more and talk with their kids about drugs. However, the actual conversation might be more difficult for parents than the research.
Most parents realize the importance of setting clear expectations and voicing strong disapproval of drug and alcohol use. For example, one survey discovered that 89 percent of parents believe they are the leading influence on whether or not their kids drink. This is an awesome responsibility, to be sure, and one that can be daunting for parents not sure how to start the conversation.
Per 2012 numbers from the CDC, an estimated 6.4 million people in the United States have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Within this statistic, about 3.5 million children are taking some sort of medication, including Adderall, for the condition. According to the New York Times, the legal sale of prescription stimulants soared to $9 billion in 2012, more than a four-fold increase in just a decade. ADHD is a big business and more pills are available to patients than ever.
Unfortunately, many of those pills end up in the hands of teenagers who aren’t suffering from ADHD. Adderall abuse, normally associated with college students, is becoming a bigger problem with teens who are misusing the drug in an attempt to help with studying or simply for a recreational high. And because Adderall is so commonly prescribed, many students have learned how to work the system to obtain a script from their doctors.
On Election Day last November, the presidential race wasn’t the only result to make news in Florida. Voters in our state approved Amendment 2, which expanded the sale and distribution of medical marijuana. The measure, which is now part of the Florida constitution, required a 60 percent vote to pass and received a 71 percent tally—nearly three-quarters of ballots cast. The amendment went into effect Jan. 3, although state health officials are still in the process of cementing rules regulating the cannabis industry.
Confusion remains about what Amendment 2 entails and what it will mean for Florida. Other states have medical marijuana laws, ranging from strict to lenient on how cannabis is prescribed and obtained. One thing is clear from the other states’ leads: Medicinal marijuana, though arguably a benefit to sick patients, negatively impacts teen drug statistics. Although Amendment 2 overwhelmingly passed, how the law will affect Florida families is currently uncertain.
Here’s a disconcerting fact about teenage substance abuse: About 77 percent of adolescents do not perceive any risk from smoking marijuana once a month. And here’s a more positive fact: Teens who think their parents would disapprove of drug use are less likely to use.
Plenty of information pertaining to teen drug, alcohol and tobacco use is available, but unfortunately, many teachers, parents and kids themselves are unaware of these facts. Furthermore, myths persist, such as the idea that underage drinking and marijuana use in teens isn’t dangerous. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), aims to not just raise awareness, but also provide teachers, students, families and communities with the information they need to keep teens safe.
According to the CDC, Florida experienced a 22.7 percent increase in overdose deaths between 2014 and 2015, which was the seventh-highest jump nationally. No numbers are yet available for 2016, but make no mistake: Drugs remain a huge problem in our state, especially when it comes to teenage use. For all the good news about declining drug and alcohol use by teens, there is still much work to do in 2017 and beyond.
That said, a new year should always be cause for optimism—a fresh start with a fresh calendar. And 2017 will provide plenty of opportunities for teachers to band together with parents, students and administrators to support student success. Here are some ways to do so: