Drug and nicotine use among teens

By: Olivia Miller

Drug use among teens has been a growing issue for decades. It’s no secret that teenagers now more than ever, have easy access to these dangerous substances. From the years 2000-2017 the number of teenagers who overdosed on drugs nearly quadrupled. In 2019 almost 5000 teens died from a reported drug overdose, and surprisingly opioids make up for about 4/5ths of those deaths.

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug among teens. Even though there aren’t any reports of overdoses due to marijuana, there are serious side effects and long term damage that can occur from regular use. According to the CDC, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) “[T]he teen brain is actively developing and often will not be fully developed until the mid 20s”. Marijuana use during this period may harm the developing teen brain. Some effects from continuous marijuana use during adolescence include: “difficulty thinking and problem solving, problems with memory and learning, impaired coordination, and difficulty maintaining attention”. Also, teens who smoke marijuana on a regular basis can have an increased risk of mental health issues.

Although marijuana is the most commonly used drug among teens, there is a new and increasingly popular issue among adolescents. Nicotine. Cigarette use has declined by 73% from 1990-2017. Although these numbers are exciting and something to celebrate, nicotine has taken a new form in E-cigarettes. The act commonly known as vaping has become very popular among teens. The CDC reports that a shocking 21% of high schoolers vape. What makes vaping so dangerous is that it has not been around long enough for doctors and experts to know the long term effects. It is also more difficult to identify exactly what chemicals you’re putting into your body when you vape. Even though you have to be 18 or even 21 in some states to purchase an E-cigarette, young teens still find a way to acquire them. This makes vaping even more dangerous because people who sell to teens can lace the devices with other very harmful drugs and they wouldn’t even know it.

Although vaping statistics have declined in the past few years, nicotine still finds ways to affect our youth in one way or another. As far as drugs, there’s something new every year and no matter what, teens always are eager to hop on the trend, no matter how dangerous. That is why teens need to be careful and watch what they put into their body’s because it can be more harmful than you think.

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