Editor’s Note: Olympic High School began offering a Journalism elective to students for the first time this year. The following news and op-ed pieces were produced by three students from the class and are printed here as part of a partnership with the Daily Press. 

 

Santa Monica students have been abusing prescription pills most commonly from their homes over the past few years. Teens are abusing prescription pills over other drugs because of their accessibility. Some known reasons teens tend to abuse prescription pills are peer pressure, boredom, curiosity, to have fun, rebellion, self-medication and addiction.

Popular prescription pills like opiates adversely impact the human body because after only three days the brain is already hooked. Further exacerbating the addiction, the user will need more and more of the drug to sustain the high. Ultimately, this increase in dosage can lead to overdose and even worse death.

According to Amanda TR Clemens, Certified Professional Counselor (CPC), “the average teen living with several other family members can find a myriad of prescription drugs right in their homes, all of which could be prescribed any number of potentially dangerous drugs at any given time.” Clemens goes on to state there has been a progressively steady rise in teens getting hooked on painkillers due to “the worldwide popularity of wisdom tooth surgery. It is a well-known fact that the majority of our dentists clinically recommend adolescents partake in this surgery around the ages of 13-18 years old.”

“A very common reason teens turn to using prescription pills is because of an ongoing struggle with mental health, whether it is diagnosed or undiagnosed. I see a lot of depression, anxiety, trauma and learning disabilities within this demographic. And it’s usually the teens who have been struggling with one or several of the aforementioned for a number of years without receiving treatment, diagnosis, or the right treatment that will end up turning to prescription pills and other drugs. Versus the teens who have had a concrete diagnosis and/or the right support and treatment who can either stop using before it becomes a habitual problem, or never turn to drugs at all.”

Schools in Santa Monica that are leading the charge, such as Olympic H.S., are currently providing drug counseling, sober living courses, and individual and group counseling, resources that any teen battling drug addiction can utilize.

CLARE foundation counselor Kimia Kabir believes the way teens with prescription pill addiction can get help is “…to talk to your counselor or another trusted adult at school or in the community. Shared information about substance abuse is NOT reportable to parents or police unless the student’s life is at risk or the student has brought illegal substances onto campus.”

Concerned adults, parents, and guardians who cannot afford private outpatient and residential rehabs have the option of public rehabs. A well-known place in Santa Monica that helps with substance abuse is the CLARE foundation.

Local agencies & programs Kabir recommends are The CLARE Foundation, which provides Clarity for Youth school-based prevention and treatment programs. Another one is Didi Hirsch, which provides individual, family, and group outpatient drug, alcohol, and other substance abuse counseling to adolescents. Finally, Kabir recommends the Visions Drug Treatment Program, which provides residential, outpatient, and extended day treatment programs for adolescents.

by Lucy Govers

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