Drug Abuse Essay, Research Paper
Drug use among teenagers seems to be on the rise. Marijuana is almost commonplace among kids my age. Many of my friends have tried, or are involved with drugs and I never could understand why. I chose this topic in order to try and get a sense of why people do it, or why it is on the rise among teens. Just like smoking cigarettes, it seems obvious that the effects of drugs are going to be bad and maybe even addicting. So, why would anyone want to get involved with them? Why would they want to put their life in danger like that? These are the questions I asked myself during the interview in order to hopefully get some sense as to why people involve themself with such dangerous substances.
According to a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health the use of drugs among teenagers in eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade is on the rise. The study started in 1991 continues through 1999. They charted the uses of marijuana, cocaine/crack, LSD, inhalants, and cigarettes. According to the charts, the use of all the substances charted by this study increased among the eighth and tenth graders. In the case of the twelfth graders, the use of all substances increased except for the use of inhalants – it decreased. Here are the statistics generated by part of the study:
Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs
(done in percentages)
Eighth Graders –
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Marijuana 10.2 11.2 12.6 16.7 19.9 23.1 22.6 22.2 22.0
Crack 1.3 1.6 1.7 2.4 2.7 2.9 2.7 3.2 3.1
LSD 2.7 3.2 3.5 3.7 4.4 5.1 4.7 4.1 4.1
Inhalants. 17.6 17.4 19.4 19.9 21.6 21.2 21.0 20.5 19.7
Cigarettes 44.0 44.2 45.3 46.1 46.4 49.2 47.3 45.7 44.1
Tenth Graders –
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Marijuana 23.4 21.4 24.4 30.4 34.1 39.8 42.3 39.6 40.9
Crack 1.7 1.5 1.8 2.1 2.8 3.3 3.6 3.9 4.0
LSD 5.6 5.8 6.2 7.2 8.4 9.4 9.5 8.5 8.5
Inhalants 15.7 16.6 17.5 18.0 19.0 19.3 18.3 18.3 17.0
Cigarettes 55.1 53.5 56.3 56.9 57.6 61.2 60.2 57.7 57.6
Twelfth Graders –
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Marijuana 36.7 32.6 35.3 38.2 41.7 44.9 49.6 49.1 49.7
Crack 3.1 2.6 2.6 3.0 3.0 3.3 3.9 4.4 4.6
LSD 8.5 8.8 8.6 10.5 11.7 12.6 13.6 12.6 12.2
Inhalants 17.6 16.6 17.4 17.7 17.4 16.6 16.1 15.2 15.4
Cigarettes 63.1 61.8 61.9 62.0 64.2 63.5 65.4 65.3 64.6
Of course these statistics could have errors. I can?t imagine that all kids who have done drugs would admit to it for a study. Also, kids have become more adapt to the concepts of drugs since 1991 and therefore could feel less pressure in answering questions about their drug habits truthfully. It may not seem quite as bad as it used to.
I decided to interview my friend Brad, an eighteen year old freshman at Santa Barbara Community College planning to get a degree in Computer Animation. He has been open about his past drug addictions with me, but I never understood why he got into them.
As a kid growing up I was the younger sibling and always had to live up to my brother?s potential. It was hard because he got straight As, but I tried. My parents didn?t understand that I couldn?t just pick up a book, read it, and then be able to recall every little detail about what I just read. That?s how my brother was. Even through school my teachers always compared me to my brother, saying things like ?Well, when Scott was in my class HE never got lower than an A- on his tests… you need to study harder Bradley, be more like your brother?.
So, from about fifth grade on I worked my ass off to be just as good as my brother, I didn?t ever have time for sports or friends or anything like that. Anything I did I did to please other people instead of myself. Then one day during the second semester of sixth grade we had a substitute teacher in my English class.
She gave us a free period, so because I didn?t have any friends really I just looked over the shoulders of a group of boys playing this interesting card game called Magic the Gathering. Yes, I know its dorky but it seemed interesting. [laughs] Anyways… they invited me to play with them, and it was pretty damn fun. I mean, I?d pretty much been locked up inside my house my whole life trying to live up to ?my potential? so, anything not related to school work was fun really!
I started hanging out with these guys more… they were the unpopular kids that most people tend to stay away from, but I didn?t care at all really. Hey, it was something to do! Well, besides the obvious dorkiness of these guys, there were some other reasons that people tended to stay away from them. They were ?druggies?. I think they found that stupid card game so damn interesting cuz almost anytime they played it they were high. Soon enough they had me trying it, and I didn?t really care. They were having fun doing it, it couldn?t have been that bad. Well, it was, because pot got me into more hard-core drugs.
Over the course of the next five years of my life I was introduced to acid, which I didn?t do much because it was kinda pricey for a kid my age without a job…. and cocoa puffs, which is marijuana mixed with cocaine. This stuff made me feel so good, and made me realize that I didn?t have to grow up to be just like my brother! I could do my own thing and maybe because this was so far from the path he had taken, I had to just go for it. Had to be the little rebellious kid!
Anyways, this stuff really screwed up my life. My parents were worried about my grades dropping so drastically… this is because I never went to class of course. But besides that, when I wasn?t out getting *censored*ed up with my friends I just slept really… and played on the computer, but that?s a whole different story. [laughs] Ok, back to my garbage can of a life!
Well, I came within inches of dropping out of school because my grades were so bad. Most of my so called friends were either hauled off to juvenile hall or sent to military school by their parents because of all the *censored* they got themselves into. So, by my sophomore year in high school I pretty much had no friends at all. Luckily for me I never had any like near death experiences or anything with drugs, I guess I?m making it sounds like a was a real *censored* up… but I didn?t do it all that often, probably mostly because I couldn?t afford it. But anyways, I guess it was about the end of my sophomore year when I had this revolutionary vision ?MUST DO WELL IN SCHOOL TO SUCCEED IN LIFE?. [laughs]
I guess I kinda realized that all this *censored* I was into wasn?t really getting me anywhere that I wanted to be… pretty much just kept on digging me deeper and deeper into a hole. I mean, believe it or not when I was in junior high, and actually even throughout high school I did want to go to college, get a degree in computer science or something and be a success.
Ok, well with this new vision fresh in my mind I try to lay off some of the drugs. I figured I could just stick with the pot for now. That sure was a hell of a lot harder than you would think. I mean, people would always complain about how hard it was for them to quit doing this or stop doing that… but I just thought they were weak and didn?t know how to control their own will. Well, I found out I was wrong. It was *censored*ing hard to quit, and I guess I didn?t even really quit because I still smoked weed. Anyways, I tried to cut all ties with those other drugs and just stick with my pot. Of course I tried to cut back on that too… the lack of money helped me out a lot, but I still couldn?t quit.
Well, school was starting back up again and I decided I would try out sports. Oh yeah, did I mention I was a pretty fat kid up until my junior year. The only sport offered in the fall season for boys was football, so I signed up for the team. Talk about HELL WEEK!!!! I mean, besides the fact that the coaches worked us until we passed out, I was smoking weed during this time. That made it like ten times worse. Every day after practice I would come home and puke cuz I felt so sick. It sucked. I really had to stop with all the drugs during football, cuz the withdraws I went through weren?t even close to as bad as what it felt like to practice with those *censored*ing drugs in my system.
Well anyways, football was almost like my savior from drugs. After that first season I was fit, no more fat kid. [laughs] Damn I was fat… [laughs] Anyways, I still smoked pot every other weekend about… but that wasn?t even close to my weed intake before.
Being on the football team I made some new and better friends than those I had met playing Magic the Gathering. My grades gradually began to rise cuz you know, I wanted to actually have a life when I became an adult. So I figured passing high school would probably help me out a bit. Anyways, throughout the rest of high school I began smoking less and less… and I continued through my senior year with football. However, even now I smoke about oh, once a month on average I?d say. I don?t really know why, I just do. I guess that?s just hard to explain, and to understand. But anyways, yeah… drugs pretty much screwed up my life. I have some pretty bad emotional problems now, probably at least partially due to the drugs. Like, I think have I some social problems, I cant get close to anyone cuz Im afraid they?ll find out about my past and never talk to me again. Every once in a while I go through withdraws… and those are scary as hell. So yeah… drugs kinda ruined my life. But Im happy to still be alive, which is more than I can say for one of my friends.
Its hard to go back and think about this *censored*… I regret it cuz I know that further on in the future I?m going to have to deal with this again, and what if my drug problems cause my kid to have problems… or what if I can?t even have a kid? All of this just started just because I wasn?t good enough for my parents… just cuz I wasn?t my brother! That?s what really pisses me off. I don?t want to put the blame on someone else, cuz it is my fault. But I just hope that people realize they had an influence on me, and that they realize that I didn?t just go out and do all this *censored* for attention or as an excuse to get out of school work or some other bull*censored* reason like that. I did it cuz it was the only thing in the world at the time that I thought satisfied me… ya know? I finally did something cuz I wanted to, not just because that?s what I was told to do!
After interviewing Brad and comparing his story with the statistics I don?t believe I can make a fair comparison. I believe that people get into drugs for different reasons. However, Brad?s case doesn?t seem to match the trends set forth by the study, because his drug habits and needs decreased as he got older. The study shows that from eighth grade to twelfth grade the tendency of teenagers to do drugs increased. So, Brad?s case proves that statistics can?t be applied to everyone within a social trend. Statistics are basically a form of stereotyping, and it isn?t right for anyone to judge someone based on statistics.