We have a drug issue in our schools. In just 15 minutes, you can purchase any drug on your phone and have it delivered to school before the next class period.
High school is a time of learning, growth, and preparation for the future. However, it is starting to become a drug abuse breeding ground for many students across the country.
Schools have done a great job in supporting their students in numerous ways such as free meal programs, emotional wellness and support programs, and educational programs for those struggling in certain areas. However, they have been unable to adequately educate our kids on the negative effects of drug use. Something must be done before it is too late.
Over the past few years, we have seen an alarming rise in drug abuse in kids as young as 12 years old. The top 5 most commonly used substances by our youth include fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana.
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, teenagers in California are 25% more likely to have used illicit drugs in the last month than the average American teenager. The drugs include the M30 pill (Oxycodone) and cocaine. It is estimated that of all the cocaine sold in the United States, 60% is laced with illicit fentanyl.
Unknown amounts of illicit fentanyl have more commonly been present in these drugs too, which can put lives in danger with even the smallest dosage. Fentanyl is known as a silent killer as it cannot be detected by taste, smell, or sight when mixed with other drugs.
Cannabis Use by the Young Can Lead to Permanent IQ Loss
Cannabis has also become one of the most popular substances for kids 12 and older. As stated by the American Addiction Centers, cannabis is one of the most widely used substances among adolescents, negatively impacting cognition and brain development.
Additionally, chronic THC use in youth has been proven to lead to a forever loss of IQ and an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
Many of our local high schools are facing this drug abuse crisis today. Flindt Anderson, founder of Parents & Addicts In Need, shared the top schools where he has seen drug abuse during his work over the last 14 years on the job. They are, in order: Buchanan High, Clovis North, Clovis High, Bullard High, and San Joaquin Memorial.
Red Ribbon Week was once a valuable program for high school students to make them aware of the dangers of drug use. Now, after 35 years in existence, it has almost become a week-long carnival setting, with very little effect on the real dangers of substance use. Every year we continue to spend millions of dollars across this country on an outdated program that has very little effect on addressing the real problem.
How Should We Solve This Problem?
Schools must work to implement weekly classes educating students on drug use and its harmful effects, starting with 6th grade. This will allow our children to understand the devastation drugs can cause and prevent drug abuse at a young age.
Parents should also have an active role in these educational programs. Parent Teacher Association events and workshops are great examples of how to get parents to do their part. By engaging parents on this issue, families will be able to further drug education — not only in the classroom but at home as well.
Funding and implementation of this curriculum should come from a partnership between the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, local school districts, Fresno County, and the cities of Fresno and Clovis.
One revenue source to support these programs could come from a part of the estimated $500,000 of annual tax revenue the city of Fresno collects from each cannabis store. Let’s take $100,000 of that tax revenue every year to help fund drug education and prevention programs for our schools.
The city of Fresno has approved 21 cannabis dispensary stores, however, only two have been able to open their doors. If more stores open for business, substantial amounts of tax revenue could be generated which will help provide the additional funding needed for a successful program.
The statistics make it abundantly clear. We cannot wait any longer to initiate this change in our education system. Schools must begin to implement consistent drug education programs, and local school districts and the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools office should work to help fund these programs to support future generations.
The call to action is now. Our children’s lives depend on it.
About the Authors
Darius Assemi of Fresno is a builder, farmer, and philanthropist. He is the president and CEO of Granville Homes and publisher of the award-winning GV Wire.
Flindt Andersen is the president and founder of Fresno-based Parents & Addicts in Need. PAIN specializes in rehabilitation services and family support for those affected by substance abuse, organizing weekly support group meetings and operating sober living homes.
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