There have been some studies done recently that show that the rate of drug addiction among elite high schools is much higher than that of regular school teens. Web MD says that, in regards to a recent study, These rates were three and two times as high respectively, as compared to national norms.
Why are kids from these higher learning institutions falling victim to drug addiction more often than their peers? CBS News says that Paradoxical though it may seem, these ostensibly privileged youth, many of who start experimenting early and often with drinking and drugs, could well be among the groups at highest risk for alcoholism and addiction in adulthood.
A couple of things to note. One is that addiction and alcoholism cut right through the entire class system of the entire world, affecting both the wealthiest and the poorest of people, from nearly any and every race, any gender, without any real discrimination. As many have said, addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer. It doesn't seem to care who the target is, anyone is potentially an addict or an alcoholic.
Second of all, it may be the case that it is easier to notice when addiction or alcoholism pops up in certain settings as opposed to others. In other words, if you are dealing with a regular school that has a normal mix of races, classes, and a regular host of problems that stem from having a certain amount of poverty, then addiction and alcoholism issues may blend in a bit more. Then if you compare that experience to an elite high school that is composed of wealthy and high class individuals, the few problems that do pop up tend to stick out like sore thumbs. In other words, in a more privileged world, the problems that do pop up become more of a crisis.
Perhaps there is more pressure as well for students at an elite high school to perform better, to get perfect grades, to qualify for the top colleges. This pressure may drive them to try to relax by drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or taking opiate based painkillers in a recreational sense, simply to unwind.
As silly as it may seem, these teens that are at an elite high school have no great cause they are fighting for, they have no great struggle in life, and they really have everything going for them. In some ways, drug addiction or alcoholism is simply a challenge or a problem that they latch on to out of, well, almost boredom. They have every advantage, they have no great challenge to face, and so getting drunk or high on the side gives them some sort of a challenge to deal with. While that may sound far fetched, I believe some of that was at play in my own high school experience, even though I was not exactly at an elite high school. My peer group and I had no great challenge to overcome, great battle to fight, and we simply fell into drugs and alcohol almost out of apathy. And then it became a challenge to try to keep our grades, our job, and everything going while also partying on the side.
If your teenager happens to be struggling with drug addiction at the high school level then what you should do is to try to encourage treatment, though you need to be realistic about your chances of completely curing this young adult overnight. What they used to recommend for kids and teens was that they went to treatment and group therapy with each other, but they found that this was not optimal. The reason that it was frowned upon eventually is essentially due to the theory of one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. In other words, the one or two really toxic teenagers would corrupt the rest of the kids, rather than the other way around, where a good teenager would influence others to follow their example.
So in adulthood you can have a group of people come together in an AA meeting and help each other to find sobriety. But at the high school level this does not necessarily work as well, because the kids are much more susceptible to peer pressure, and they will look to each other and find corruption there instead of hope for sobriety. The group support does not work as well because of peer pressure.
Therefore, they recommend things such as family counseling sessions instead, which is something that you may or may not get your teenagers cooperation in doing. You can also send your teenager to rehab, which is a decent choice depending on their level of addiction or dependency.
Many schools are struggling with opiate epidemics, with kids who are experimenting with pain pills, often found in their parent's bathroom cabinets, and then eventually these kids are graduating to heroin on the streets. That may sound like a wild jump to you, but it is happening every single day, and one of the more common metrics being analyzed right now is What percentage of heroin addicts started out on prescription pain pills? That number seems to be rising every passing year, making prescription pain pills the new gateway drug of choice in this country. Some studies are saying that painkillers are becoming as popular as marijuana in terms of being a gateway drug.
One option that you might give some thought to is that of a full scale intervention, where you round up friends and family members in order to confront the struggling teenager and try to convince them to go to inpatient rehab. If you choose to do this, know that it is not always successful, and in some cases it can even backfire quite a bit. You need to weigh these risks carefully and therefore you might even consider consulting with a treatment center before you attempt it. Some rehab centers employ professional interventionists who can come out and assist you in the intervention.
Another good strategy is to have a plan in place and a treatment center lined up to admit your struggling teenager if they do agree to attend treatment. You want to have a solution in place, you want to have a very specific goal for what you want to see happen when you do an intervention. It doesn't do much good to simply confront the person and tell them that they need to get help and change their ways if you do not have anything specific to offer as a solution. At that point it will likely just turn into a yelling match with everyone getting defensive and upset.
Every addict deserves a chance at recovery, regardless of their demographic background, and it is up to all of us to let them know that help is available. Get them to an inpatient treatment center so that they can turn their life around.
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