Effects of Drugs on a Teenage Brain

Sarah Boudreau

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High school is a very stressful and hard time in a person’s life, and one things that does not help make it easier is drugs. Many high school students turn to drugs when they feel overwhelmed by the stress or drama of school. These people believe that these drugs will either help them learn or will relieve their stress, and although it may seem like they are working at the moment, the long term effects are not worth it. People are often oblivious of the how bad these drugs actually are or are just in denial. The users would most likely be less stressed and would work/learn better if they did not do any drugs at all. Some of the most common drugs abused my high schooler are nicotine, mostly found in vapes and Juuls; marijuana, often referred to as weed; and amphetamines/Adderall, which are both nicknamed speed.

The most commonly used drug in high schools nicotine. Students use vaporizers, or vapes, which more often than not contain nicotine. Many people who vape do not realize the damage it is doing to their bodies, if they even realize that it is causing damage. They do not understand that vaping can have the same effects on their lungs as smoking cigarettes. In fact, it is found that most people who vape obsessively in high school end up smoking cigarettes later in life due to their addiction to nicotine. Most people who vape start because they like how the flavored ones taste or because they see their friends doing it and want to join in. Once they start they get addicted and it is much harder to stop. Other than the addictiveness of the nicotine and the damage it does to your lungs, vaping also caused bleeding gums and throat. Inhaling smoke so often irritates them and can cause them to start bleeding which can be very painful. Another downside of vaping is it can “interfere with memory and attention processing” which can greatly affect how you are doing in school and make your grades suffer, which does not look good to colleges if they are applying.

Another popular drug amongst high schoolers is marijuana, more commonly known as weed. The majority of people who smoke weed say they do it to realize stress after a hard day of school or even before school if they are nervous for a test or quiz. The problem with that is that smoking weed can cause anxiety, which will make their test or quiz go even worse than anticipated, or make their hard day seem like it was much harder. Another side effect to weed is paranoia, which could make people feel nervous or jumpy for no reason, which again, will not help them with their stress. Although smoking is the most common way to use marijuana, many teenagers use dab pens as well. A dab pen is vaporizer pen in which people put cannabis concentrates which are heated up and inhaled as a vapor. Just like with vaping, some people think that weed isn’t as bad for you if you are using a dab pen, but the effects are they exact same. So if you are looking for a way to feel better after a long day, do not turn to marijuana as the fix.

One more drug that is used in high schools is speed, which is actually a name for a couple of different pills that high schoolers abuse. The most common of them being Adderall and amphetamines. These drugs are both used to help with attention and learning. People who have ADHD are prescribed Adderall to help them concentrate so that they can learn better. Knowing this makes people without ADHD want to take the drug thinking it will do the same thing for them, but it does not have the acquired effect. People who take these drugs without a prescription do not end up with better attention spans, but instead only see the negative side effects. Some of those negative side effects are increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, decreased appetite, sleep deprivation, and more. So with taking this drug students get absolutely no benefits. Just like with the other two drugs mentioned earlier, people would be much better off without it.

These drugs are used at most high schools in America, but many of these schools have a club called SADD, which is an acronym for Students Against Destructive Decisions. This club is a big advocate for drug awareness and getting people to stop abusing drugs by showing them the downsides to them. At the Tewksbury Memorial High School, SADD club is big on stopping drug use in the school halls (and bathrooms.) When asked what SADD club is currently up to and why they are focused on drugs, Mr. Andrew Bellistri, the club advisor said, “SADD just spent a week on a campaign to support red ribbon week, red ribbon week aimed to create awareness about drug use and abuse.There is definitely an issue, over 200 people a day died due to opioid induced overdose in the USA which is indicative of a large epidemic. The introduction of E cigarettes and vapes makes it easier and makes teenagers feel like it is not as bad for you and not a big deal when that is clearly not the case.” Some of the things this club did during red ribbon week was hanging up posters in the bathrooms, which contained facts about the negative side effects to vaping along with some gruesome pictures, have a poster out during lunch that students could sign to pledge to live drug free. They also tied red ribbons on peoples car antennas and planted red tulips in front of the school that will be blooming in the spring. All of those things were done because SADD believes that drugs are not the answer to your problems, and encourages you to find a better, healthier way to cope with high school.

If a student is getting overwhelmed or stressed, they should not have to rely on drugs to help them or make them feel better, instead they should look for better ways of handing it. One of the most effective ways to reduce stress is indulging in physical activity, such as going on a run or doing some yoga. Both of those techniques are great for you physically and mentally. Another big way to reduce that stress is to sleep more, which will help your mental health immensely. All it takes is going to bed at a reasonable time so that you can sleep at least six to eight hours every night. If you do one, or even better, both of these things you will feel much less stressed and will concentrate and learn better in school, but most importantly, you will stay healthy. The next time you feel like you need to unwind after a long day of school just go for a quick run or do some yoga, or if you are stressing over a big test, study the best you can then go to bed early. These are just a couple simple solutions to some of the many stresses of high school, and if you do them, you will feel so much better than you would if you turned to drugs instead.