Do CHS students ‘just say no’?

By Sammi Silber, Editor in Chief

By the end of high school, students have sat through years of health classes to learn the horrors of drugs and the proper way to “just say no” to using them.  Regardless of being taught these dangers, some students rebel.

Although CHS is a National Blue Ribbon School and is known for its academics, many students still use drugs behind closed doors.

According to CHS student Michael*, he once walked into the school bathroom to find a couple of students smoking marijuana.  However, CHS students are not the only students using drugs.  Engaging in drugs has proven to be popular among students all over Montgomery County, not just at CHS.

“Statistics only show instances where a student is caught,” Tom Manger, the Chief of Police for Montgomery County, said.  “It’s impossible to know how many students are experimenting with drugs who have not been caught.”

According to Manger, from February to June 2014, there was a total of 63 drug-related incidents throughout MCPS.

Does CHS have a drug problem?

According to an Observer survey of 206 students from all grade levels, 41.4 percent of CHS drug-using students have used drugs in school, and 54.4 percent of all students who were surveyed have seen other students using drugs on CHS property.

Although statistics show that more than half of CHS students have seen others using drugs on school grounds, many drug incidents go unnoticed by security.

According to CHS Security Team Leader Terry Bell, around five to six drug incidents are reported at CHS every school year.  However, he believes there is a high percentage of drug use among students that goes unreported.

“Based on students’ comments and other communication, I would state that drugs are a prominent problem at CHS,” Bell said.

Some students, however, do not believe that drugs are a problem at CHS because the blame cannot be put on every student in the school.

“It’s too broad to say the school as a whole has a drug problem,” Alex* said.  “It’s an individual choice to use drugs and an individual’s problem if they let it progress too far.”

How many CHS students use drugs?

According to the Observer survey, 39.8 percent of CHS students have admitted to using drugs before.  The junior class has the highest percentage of drug users, with 62.8 percent of junior survey-takers admitting to using drugs.

Some students claim that a “drug culture” at CHS is what pressured them into getting involved with illegal substances.

“I was pressured into starting doing drugs by [someone] in my [grade],” said Blake* in response to the survey.  “At first it just started out as recreational, but it has slowly developed into somewhat of a problem.  The drug culture at Churchill does not help better this problem either.”

Why do students use drugs?

Almost 77 percent of drug-using students have experimented with marijuana, which is the most commonly used drug among teenagers.  Next to that, 32.9 percent have used Adderall, a narcotic meant to buffer ADHD side effects, even though not all of these students have ADHD.  About 14 percent have used ecstasy and 12 percent have used cocaine.

According to John*, he often uses marijuana because he believes it is safer than other drugs and it allows him to release stress.

“It gives me a sense of euphoria and relaxation,” John said.  “I choose to use marijuana because the risk associated with other drugs is too much for me.

Other students use different drugs, such as Adderall, in order to stay focused.  Adderall is a prescribed medication but is still bought and sold illegally on the black market.  This stimulant drug has an effect that helps users stay alert, awake and attentive.

These effects usually associated with Adderall make this drug sound tempting during the school day.

According to Micah*, who responded to the survey, he uses Adderall in order to “keep up with school.”

Where do students get drugs?

According to the survey, 45.1 percent of student drug users get their drugs from another student.

According to Rick*, who has used marijuana, cocaine, crack and acid, he has spent $850 on drugs since beginning to experiment with them freshman year.  He gets his drugs from an old friend, with whom he helped with manufacturing drugs.

Some students who have dealt drugs to other students in the past quit rather quickly because they do not like being dubbed a drug dealer.

According to Stuart*, he dealt drugs for three days, but he hated it and decided to throw the rest of the drugs away.

Students involved with drugs tend to buy drugs from someone they trust.

According to Jacob*, he only gets drugs from a reliable source.

“You have to get them from people you trust because people could [give] bad product,” Jacob said.  “Sometimes the product could be deadly.”

Getting caught and getting help

When a student is caught on school grounds with drugs, a number of procedures must be taken, according to Bell.

“Students are immediately reported to their grade-level administrator,” Bell said.  “Students who may be in possession or caught using or distributing drugs are subjected to a self-search by security and administration, and the Montgomery County Police are notified.”

From there, the police investigate the situation.  An arrest will be made based on what the student has done or the drugs they are using.

“If the drug is marijuana, the student may be issued a citation for possession of marijuana and released,” Manger said.  “If the drug is any other illegal drug, then the student may be physically arrested, searched and transported to the Police District Station.”

Although a student can be handcuffed for any drug other than marijuana, in which they would issue a citation, Manger said the police are only there to help.

“As police officers, we have seen the effects of drugs on young people,” Manger said.  “Our focus remains prevention and treatment if needed.  Arresting someone is not our first choice, but sometimes it has to be done.”

If you are worried about a friend who may be involved in drugs, whether they are doing drugs or distributing them to other students, take action and seek help immediately.

According to Manger, any student who sees other students having problems with drugs should “seek out a school Administrator, school security officer or the school resource officer” to give your friend “the help he or she needs.”

However, some students believe that even though other students may use drugs, and even though they know the negative side effects that come with using drugs, it is their choice whether they should take drugs, and administration should not try to change that.

According to assistant principal John Taylor, the number of students who use drugs at CHS may be small, but the number of students who use them outside of school is growing.

“Very few incidents occur at school yet according to reports, many students use them on the weekend,” Taylor said.  “Some students are smart enough not to use drugs at school but not smart enough to not use them at all.”