High School Drug Use

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High School Drug Use

Jocelyn Padilla, Journalist

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South High School has been regarded for its diversity and amazing staff, as well as its college preparation in students. However, recently with the new influx of freshman at South, a problem has presented itself among students: rampant drug use. Now this isn’t a new problem. Drug use at South High School and every other high school in America and elsewhere has at some point in time dealt with the presence of drugs on campus, however, the freshman class this year have been the target of the new “No Vape November” campaign, the class even visited by Governor Hickenlooper. It’s safe to say with the former Hickenlooper’s involvement in the issue, that this is in fact an issue. However, some South High teens don’t think vaping is an issue, let alone drug use in general at South.

“It’s a joke. Seriously.” said one South High sophomore. “You think he said anything worth saying? No.” This sophomore, along with others, is the product of an epidemic – a young teen addicted to nicotine, starting vaping with the Juul, then eventually progressing to cigarettes. When asked if he felt like he had a problem, he promptly responded, “If I have a problem, every kid in America has a problem, ya feel?”

Colorado has the highest rate of teen vaping, 1 in 4 teens owning and vaping from their e-cigarettes. However, many of the teens who do vape don’t know what’s in it. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 66% of teens believe that “just flavoring” is in their e-cigs. With an array of colorful packaging, fun flavors such as “cotton candy”, and the sleek easy to hide design makes Juuls appealing to a younger audience. Since the FDA’s announcement on making vapes harder to obtain for young kids, I wanted to dive in deeper to see if vaping was the only problem South High faced, or if there was something deeper.

In talking with an unnamed female junior, she gave insight on the drugs she’d seen done on campus in the last semester.

“Yeah, I’ve seen kids smoking on the tennis courts, I’ve smoked on the tennis courts. I’ve seen kids take and sell pills in class, I’ve taken and sold pills in class. Seen kids tripping at school. I’ve seen kids buying acid at school and vape in class kids vape in class all the time.” This was an interesting development, coming to the realization that the presence of drugs on campus went far deeper than vaping in class.

“I saw my friend snort oxy off a book in piano class last year, while the teacher was in the room… I don’t think that it’ll ever be stopped, though. If you were at any other high school, it would be the exact same.”

With several other testimonies about kids vaping in class, some even caught by teachers yet never reprimanded, it’s safe to assume that South High School students are facing a problem with the integration of drugs inside and outside of class. I interviewed 8 students – two from each grade respectively. However, each grade had the same thing to say: they’d all seen drugs done on campus, most of them admitting to taking drugs on campus themselves. This brought forward one question to mind:

What does this mean for South going forward?