The student news site of Sedro-Woolley High School

The Cub

The Cub

The student news site of Sedro-Woolley High School

The Cub

The student news site of Sedro-Woolley High School

Unveiling the Underlying Challenges of Teenage Drug and Alcohol Use

Jake White is about to show off his awesome drumming skills

Drugs, vaping, and alcohol can have large impacts on everyone’s lives. Jake White an inspiring speech to motivate students came to Sedro-Woolley High School to talk about it this past December, explaining why he has chosen not to drink or smoke.

“ Using drugs and alcohol is so addictive for teenagers because the brain isn’t fully developed until you’re 21 years old,” said White in an interview. ”So, until then, your brain is like a sponge, absorbing every action and substance you put into your body.”

 This means if you start doing great things, says White, like working out, developing positive habits, and learning skill sets, “ your brain will become better. But if you introduce harmful chemicals into it, your brain will become worse. When I was in college,  I stopped telling people about my healthy decisions because they got insecure around me or they got uncomfortable”. 

White referenced a study from the University of Columbia discussing why teenagers get into drugs and alcohol. 

“I’ve known so many people that have used drugs to socialize or fit in and the sad reality is that if addiction doesn’t happen to them, it happens to one of their close friends. Sometimes it’s better to take the spotlight off ourselves, and think how we can take care of our friends and community.”

“It’s like, we need that support to keep things from going south during our wild experimentation phase,” he said.  Dr. Crystal Collier wrote a book that talks about what healthy brain development looks like, how risky behaviors can derail that trajectory, and how to keep development on track. 

White again referenced the study by the University of Columbia which said that most students who report drug use attribute it to feeling stress and wanting to feel an escape.

 “I think that if we have a supportive group of friends and go to them, instead of drugs, we could still deal with life’s challenges and avoid the tragic consequences of drug use,” said White. 

 “The reality is I trust studies that come from universities and hospitals because their job is to save lives. But there’s been studies being done by cannabis companies, by alcohol companies and their job is to sell your products.”

White says he has encountered numerous individuals who turned to drugs for socializing or fitting in. “And unfortunately, if they don’t fall into addiction, it often affects one of their close friends. There are times when it’s beneficial to shift the focus away from ourselves and consider ways to support our friends and the community.” 

Most teens who become addicted have problems sleeping, gain or lose weight, and mood swings which affect their friends or family,  impacting others around them.  People can develop health problems that can be life-threatening, says white, “especially if people pressure someone to do drugs or drink at a party. Certain types of drugs can kill you along with alcohol poisoning.“

There are different reasons for choosing what they choose but sometimes it’s all the same.

 “ I think he knows that people deal with all different types of things but a lot of the reasons are the same for a lot of students,” replied Bree Johnson.

Adults or other kids can see that danger is coming their way, but a lot of teenagers don’t listen because they think it’s an old saying, “The easy-to-recognize dangers of being a teenager and using drugs are things like accidental deaths, injuries, but the hidden ones are getting less interested in your goals, Developing mental health problems, and planting a seed for addiction in your life,” said White. 

    In addition to setting examples as a role model for younger siblings, teens should be aware that being a role model for their younger sister or brother can have a big impact on them because they are looking up to you as an example in life, says White. People deal with so much that there are many reasons why they choose to drink, smoke, or make bad decisions in the world. 

A large percentage of middle and high school students reported past-year marijuana vaping—8% of eighth graders, 19% of 10th graders, and 22% of 12th graders, according to the CDC. This seriously can have effects on a teen’s health and well-being, which can get in the way of everyday activities but compared with teens who do not use marijuana, teens who use marijuana are more likely to quit high school or not get a college degree. 

“Approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder. Some signs and symptoms of marijuana use disorder include trying but failing to quit using marijuana or giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana,” according to the CDC.

White’s visit to Sedro-Woolley High School to advise them to stop their addiction to drugs and alcohol. He hopes that the advice he gives will help students get into the habit of a better lifestyle and better relationships with others. In other words, you have set yourself up for life free from addiction,

“If you have chosen to do it and you want help, please ask for it. Because none of us can do it alone. We all need that support. Especially advice from others could also help, said White.

“Yes, I think people will,” Johnson said. Johnson hopes that students take his advice to be a better person in life. Also, listening to what White had to say at the assembly should inspire others to be careful around the people you hang with because sometimes they aren’t who you think they are in person.

 The assembly was an amazing way to end the last month of 2023, hopefully making an impact on those who want to start 2024 fresh start to the new year. 

As Johnson puts it “I just think how he was so entertaining and encouraging about it” she says.

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