Teens fear police more than damage from drug use

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

Some teens use designer drugs rather than alcohol to avoid police citations.

By Lori Koenick and Allison Srour, Features Editors

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Pregaming ─ a typical teenager ritual to get loosened up before a big event such as a party or a concert. Pregaming usually entails taking a few shots or having a couple beers, but now popping some pills has joined the ritual.

 

In recent months, many students have been opting out of alcohol and instead moving to synthetic, designer drugs such as ecstasy and prescription narcotics, like Oxycotin because of the fear of getting police citations for alcohol.

 

“Kids are so worried about getting cited that they roll, the slang for doing Molly, at concerts and even on the weekends,” said senior Emily,who requested her name be changed. “I’ve been cited so I always have that fear about going to parties and concerts after I drink. I like how rolling is a completely different experience than getting too drunk or sick, and teenagers are getting bored of getting drunk on the weekends.”

 

This trend is disturbing to many local medical professionals. According to Scott Freedman, Medical Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, doing any synthetic designer drug is more dangerous because those drugs are not pure, and their highs are more powerful.

 

“It is always alarming when adolescents use any illegal drug because the adolescent brain is much more susceptible to either short-term damage from a one-time hit or long term effects,” Freedman said. “The adolescent brain is still in development. The high from a synthetic drug may only last a few hours but it is more toxic. The more potent the high is, the greater the toxicity and risk to be life threatening.”

 

Synthetic drug use has also expanded to younger grades.

 

“Use is getting younger and younger,” senior Claire Tomlinson said. “The risk of alcohol citations has increased so kids are turning to more easily concealed drugs. Also, younger kids think it to be ‘cool’ to do more hardcore drugs.”

 

According to freshman Drew Gerber, several students as young as freshmen have tried Molly, a pure form of ecstasy, although he believes marijuana remains the most popular drug of choice for teens.

 

Junior Blair Ambrose agrees.

 

“I think that marijuana is still the most common drug because it is easier to obtain than more hard-core drugs and kids are less scared to do it because the consequences are not as bad,” junior Blair Ambrose said.

 

Consequences are the determining factor for most teens when deciding to do drugs. When it comes down to law enforcement, parents or hospitalization, most students fear the consequences of being caught by law enforcement the most.

 

According to Tomlinson, getting in trouble with the law is the biggest risk because it can mess with future plans.

 

“The consequences of getting caught by the law are more severe and could affect my college plans,” Tomlinson said.

 

Ambrose feels that she would be most afraid of getting caught by her parents.

 

“If you don’t have your parents’ trust, you don’t have anything,” Ambrose said. “I value their opinion of me the most.”

 

However, the health effects of these synthetic, designer drugs are not to be disregarded. According to Freedman, synthetic drugs can do serious damage to your heart and brain in a single use.

 

“They can raise your body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate to serious levels,” Freedman said. “Some people deem marijuana to be a safe drug because it is natural, but synthetic marijuana can lead to heart attacks.”

 

Many students know the health consequences, yet still choose to do more hardcore drugs because they believe they are less likely to get caught using them.

 

“I did it because everyone told me it made the music and concert better, and I didn’t have to worry about getting cited,” Emily said. “However, I don’t think ecstasy is safer than alcohol whatsoever. It is horrible for your brain. Either way all drugs are dangerous.”