There’s good news and bad news for anti-drug educators: Drug use is decreasing among high school and middle school students in Hillsborough County, according to a survey that is the topic of a St. Petersburg Times news story. The bad news is that the method and motivation for the answers seem to be based on false views that are all too easily shattered. Once shattered, those “no” answers could quickly become “yes.”
The numbers show that 30 percent of middle and high school students have tried an illicit drug of some kind, but 18 percent of those tried a drug other than marijuana. This is a decrease – one in three students had tried marijuana by the same age six years ago.
Of course, a decrease doesn’t last long. Certainly marijuana use is down among those still in middle school and high school, but not in college. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 37.5 percent of full-time college students aged 18-22 had tried an illicit drug in the past year. Non-students and part-time students were even more likely than that to try marijuana.
The data seems easy enough to follow. While living at home under the watchful eye of parents and neighbors, young adults find it much easier to say no, as they are usually being regulated externally and probably fear punishment. However, when they turn 18, move away to college or take a job and an apartment, they realize the fatal flaw in drug education today: It treats people as though they are unintelligent.
Take, for instance, Jen Clark of the Mendez Foundation, a popular anti-drug education organization. She actually told her students “When people are drunk, they say that they’re trashed. Do you want to be compared to a piece of garbage?” To which students like Flossie Alford, a senior at Blake High School, respond she’ll say no to drugs because she’s essentially afraid of dying before graduation from high school.
Well, once a newly independent student becomes aware of the glaring meaninglessness of statements like Clark’s, it isn’t long before they’re holding everything anti-drug educators told them in suspicion, including the fear of death they associated with saying yes in the first place.
Until anti-drug educators are honest with kids about the real risk of drugs, young adults will roll the dice and experiment with drugs as soon as they become old enough to make the decision on their own.