Teen drug use epidemic

The drugs teens use and what Forsyth county is doing to prevent it

December 15, 2017

Teenagers growing up in today’s world face many issues, but one of the most serious is drug use. Drugs have disastrous impacts on teens and their future.  

Understanding the deadly consequences of drug use, Forsyth County often hosts a Drug Summit to inform parents and other members of the community about the main concerns of drug use: the consequences, signs to be aware of, and other information. Forsyth Commissioner Cindy Mills is responsible for the creation of the Drug Summits and the Forsyth County Drug Awareness Council. She contributes to the Summits by organizing guest speakers, deciding the theme and marketing the events.


“Our goal at each summit is to educate the public more each time with what’s happening in our own community, signs to watch for, to hear from those that suffer from addiction, to give options for help in this battle, and to end the stigma of addiction with love and understanding of the disease,” said Commissioner Cindy Mills. “With 64,000 people dying in our nation from drug overdose last year, there’s still so much more work to be done. We constantly try to think of more ways we educate and prevent before the choices are made that leads to addiction.” 


People don’t have to die. We just have to get them to see the consequences before the consequences get them.”

— Commissioner Cindy Mills


From October 23-30, South Forsyth High School participated in Red Ribbon Week. During this week, counselors and staff encouraged students to live a drug-free life.

“[During Red Ribbon Week] We did announcements in the mornings and in the cafeteria. We also did the affirmation wings in the counseling office,” Counselor Lindsay Burnell commented. “Most of our initiatives are ongoing but we believe awareness is the first step in opening up the conversation. We believe that anything we do that opens up the conversation on any mental health topic helps, even if it is just one person!”


Although this week might have been helpful to some, others might need more than just one week of support. According to the 2016-2017 Georgia Student Health Survey of South Forsyth High School, of the 2,442 students who took the Health Survey, 85 students admitted to using marijuana a few, or several times a month. The survey doesn’t account for the people who weren’t entirely truthful or for the students who didn’t take it. The fact that very few students admitted to drug use discourages students who are using from speaking out. These individuals may feel powerless in their environment and discriminated against by their peers.


“The counseling office has many resources that we can provide for students struggling with addiction.” Counselor Lindsay Burnell said. She also mentioned that any student struggling with drug addiction should come forward and speak to the counselors or a trusted teacher; the same goes for a bystander. “We would hope that any student who is aware of such activity come and speak with their counselor or any trusted adult in the building,” Counselor Lindsay Burnell said. “The identity of the student who reports will remain confidential.”


It is important that students report teen drug use, because the results are catastrophic in most cases. The effects of drugs are harmful to adults, and the outcomes can be even more fatal for younger people.


One of the illegal drugs that is most abused by teens is marijuana. According to The Recovery Village website, “35.1% of 12th graders have smoked pot in the past year… 81% of 12th graders say it would be easy to get marijuana. Only 32% of 12th graders feel that regular marijuana use is harmful.” This source also stated that marijuana can cause “brain abnormalities, slowed thinking and impaired learning and memory”. These side effects can lead to negative consequences. Using this drug can also make a person appear less favorable for a job. In addition, marijuana diminishes the serotonin and dopamine in a person’s brain, which can cause depression. The Drug-Free World website stated that using marijuana causes paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, and many other short term effects.



Sophie Ralph
By looking at statistics, it’s clear to see why teen drug use is a huge issue. This infographic shows the true extent of teen drug use, specifically marijuana and opioid abuse.

Opioids are currently being abused more frequently by teens which is a frightening development for many parents. Many, including Donald Trump, have called it an opioid epidemic. Certain opioids are attractive to high school and college students. OxyContin and similar painkillers are often purchased illegally. Adderall is popular because it helps make a person more focused and alert. The website drugs.com states, “Originally intended as a medication for children with ADHD, Adderall has become something of a thing among older teens and young adults intent on increasing their focus and energy levels on exam days or during all-night study sessions.”


Although it can seem like a good idea to use a substance to stay alert, the side effects of using Adderall without a prescription can be seriously harmful. According to drugs.com, taking Adderall without ADHD makes a person become dependent on these pills and can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Strokes and heart attacks have occurred in individuals who used Adderall without a prescription. “Mixing alcohol with Adderall is dangerous, and sometimes fatal,” stated Carmen Fookes on drugs.com. “It sends the brain mixed messages that can result in paranoia, depression, migraines, sleeplessness and vomiting.”


Forsyth County resident Kendra Turner is someone who has struggled with opioid addiction herself.  

Now; over 3 years in recovery, the current opioid overdose epidemic takes my breath away daily,” Kendra Turner said. “During my use, I experienced many overdoses; 2 were my own. Luckily, I was able to be revived, but when I was in the throws of addiction, it didn’t scare or phase me one bit. I didn’t care. I, honestly, didn’t care if the baggy in my hand was going to take my life. Drugs cause a person to be very selfish.” 

People deep into their addictions don’t even think about the people who would be affected if they were no longer alive.”

— Kendra Turner

Drug use is extremely dangerous for teens and educating people about the consequences is paramount. Students and parents must support other teens in order for these individuals to overcome their addictions. 

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