Being Aware of Substance Abuse

The Effects and What We Can Do to Prevent it

Teenager+actively+engaging+in+the+use+of+substances.

Joshua Resnick - stock.adobe.com

Teenager actively engaging in the use of substances.

Jenna Mizanin, Contributor

     By now, I am sure we are all familiarized with the term substance abuse. Some of us may have struggled with it ourselves. For those who have never heard of it, substance abuse is the excessive use of addictive materials, such as narcotics, opioids, stimulants, and more. These drugs are severely addictive, and it is extremely hard to stop once you have begun. 

     These drugs can change you into an entirely new person. Some people may become aggressive, others may fall into a depressive episode. Families of those addicted feel the brunt of this abuse. Emotional and mental effects aside, there are numerous physical repercussions to substance abuse. Different drugs produce different outcomes. For example, vaping increases the chance for heart disease, headaches, seizures, strokes, and heart attacks. Alcoholism causes slurred speech, high blood pressure, liver failure, anxiety, aggression, and cancer. Furthermore, cocaine can cause hallucinations, panic attacks, and potentially psychosis. These are only the effects of a few drugs, the majority of those being discussed are controlled substances and schedules one and two based on the federal government. Drugs are assigned into the schedule system by their medicinal purposes and their potential for addiction and abuse. Schedule one drugs are drugs that do not have any medicinal purposes and possess a high potential for abuse. Schedule two drugs are classified as severe substances that may cause permanent physical and psychological dependence.  

     A student at Venice Middle School, who wished to remain anonymous, has had her own struggles with addiction. Addiction runs in her family, causing her to become exposed to weed, nicotine, and alcohol at an early age, as well as influences from social media and peers. “It crushed me mentally and made me fail school for a while. It had me taking medication, seeing psychiatrists, and made me hate myself and my choices,” she recalls. Her recovery has not been linear, “There were a few times I was offered a vape or some alcohol and decided to take it, but not anymore. Vapes and alcohol made me feel sick, and I haven’t had any problems since.” She is proud to announce she has been five months clean from any substances. Through her friends and herself, she has accomplished recovery. 

     This student is one of possibly many at our school who are dealing with, or have dealt with, substance abuse issues. If you are, you are not alone. Although you may have not reached a “severe” point, it is best to get help and quit. If you are struggling, you may call SAMHSA, the national substance abuse and mental health hotline, at 1-800-662-4357. Your recovery will not be easy, but with the help of friends, counselors, crisis lines, and most importantly, yourself, you can become substance free. 

*Editor’s note – There are many resources available to help overcome addictions.  At VMS, guidance counselors are here to help direct you to necessary resources.  Please talk to a guidance counselor or a trusted adult to seek help and more information.