The teenage years are some of the toughest we face. Sometimes the pressure can be too much to take. In a recent survey, 73 percent of teens said school stress is the number one reason for using drugs. Yet only 7 percent of parents recognize this. While overall teen drug abuse is on the decline, teens are finding new ways to get high. One in five teens has abused a prescription drugs. Now, one high school is combating the problem head on using innovative techniques.
“I was around 11 years old when I first started using,” John recalled to Ivanhoe.
“I was 14 years old,” said Cassandra.
“I was about 11,” said Michael.
“I was 13 when I first started using drugs,” Amanda said.
Regardless of their age or drug of choice…
“I started smoking weed,” Almy said.
“Then I started doing prescription pills,” Provencher recalled.
“Then cocaine, then crack cocaine and eventually heroin,” Doherty described.
“Escalating to full blown cocaine addiction,” Maddock said. “I was doing hallucinogens and ecstasy.”
These four teens say their drug addiction consumed their lives.
“Life started going down hill rapidly — arrests and problems with my family and friends and school, getting kicked out,” Doherty said.
“It happens so fast,” Almy recalled. “I lost focus of my dreams so quickly.”
Dreams of being an actress or athlete shattered until they found themselves here at Northshore Recovery High School in Beverly, Mass.
The high school offers drug support groups while allowing students to take regular classes and graduate. Principal Michelle Lipinski started the school after seeing a need in her community.
The students say they are like most typical teens and that many parents are fooling themselves if they believe their children are not exposed to drugs.
“You go to school and there’s people with drugs,” Provencher said. “You go to popular places like the mall and there’s drugs.”
The latest numbers indicate 25 percent of high school students have been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property. Parents should also beware of what’s lurking in their home.
“A lot of prescription pills can get you messed up in your medicine cabinet,” Provencher said.
In a recent survey, for the first time more teens said it’s easier to buy prescription drugs than beer. Signs of teen drug abusers include severe mood swings, loss of interest in family activities, a sudden increase or decrease in appetite, and lying. If you’re missing money or jewelry, your teen may be using it to score drugs.
“I hung out with the wrong people,” Doherty said.
These kids think parents need to wise up and monitor who their kids hang out with. After school, they say, is prime time for getting high.
“My parents didn’t really ask what I was doing after school and I would have been better off if they asked me,” Almy said.
“Your kid may seem like they hate you but they will thank you in the long run,” said Maddock
All four teens credit this school with saving their lives.
The teens say parental involvement is crucial, along with other productive activities that keep them busy. They say many teens start experimenting with drugs out of boredom and peer pressure.