Op-Ed Stoned Age: 1/5 of Colorado high schoolers admit to having used illegal drugs while on school grounds, finds study

Drug and alcohol consumption among young people

Image courtesy of marijuanatimes.org

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Stoned Age: 1/5 of Colorado high schoolers admit to having used illegal drugs while on school grounds, finds study.

  • 1/5 of Colorado high school students regularly use marijuana.
    •    Over 26% of Colorado pupils admit to consuming alcohol at school.
    Full report on high school drug use in America included.

Media Contributor: American Addiction Centers | community | mediarequest@contactAAC.com


Distressing data: Drug and alcohol consumption among young people is constantly on the rise in America. To illustrate just how vastly substance misuse is growing among high school students, Project Know analyzed Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance data to present a state breakdown of alcohol, marijuana and injected drug abuse among teens.

Schools are supposed to be safe spaces for education and learning, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for officials to keep harmful substances away. Some districts have even resorted to having sniffer dogs on school grounds to help identify students who might be bringing more than just their textbooks and homework to school… In Colorado, for example, 18% of high school students admitted to using illegal drugs on school grounds* – just below the national average of 22.9%. Arkansas had the highest rate, with 30.7% of teens using illicit substances at school, whilst North Dakota had the lowest at 12.1%.

Research shows** that more than any other illicit substance, high schoolers in America are more likely to experiment with alcohol consumption. It is of vital importance that we recognize the dangers of alcohol abuse because in fact, over 4,300 young people die each year from excessive drinking. According to YRBSS data, Colorado was found to have an average of 26.2% of high schoolers using alcohol – again, just below the national average of 28%. Louisiana was the state with the highest rate at 34% and Utah, on the other hand, had the lowest percentage at 10.6%.

When it comes to marijuana use, 19.6% of Colorado high school teens were found to have consumed marijuana – above the national average (19%). Across the U.S., high school marijuana use was the highest in Delaware with a rate of 26.1% and lowest in Utah with 8.1%. It should be noted that especially among younger users, marijuana can negatively impact brain development, including control memory and critical thinking.

Please see the below link for a breakdown of high school drug use across America:


Not only are teenagers more likely to take risks with illegal substances, but the effects of these drugs on young, developing minds can be even more severe. Drugs are chemicals which work on the brain by tapping into its communication system, causing abnormally large amounts of dopamine – the ‘feel-good’ hormone – to flood your system. This may last longer than a natural release of dopamine and causes the high we associate with drugs. While teens may begin using drugs on a voluntary basis, drugs can quickly alter brain function. This impairs their ability to think rationally and clearly without the substance, leading to compulsive use and addictive behavior.

According to a CBS News survey, two million teens between the ages of 12 and 17 need treatment for a substance abuse problem but only around 150,000 receive the help they require. It is imperative to recognize signs of substance dependency before it’s too late.

With young people being more easily influenced than adults, it’s crucial that we do our best to identify symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse in young people as soon as possible,’ says a Project Know spokesperson. ‘We aim to provide knowledge about addiction, as well as accessible treatment options available in your area, from intervention and detox, to recovery and relapse prevention.’

*in 2017, the latest data available.

**Research taken from drugabuse.gov

1 Comment

  1. It breaks my heart that teens are taking drugs (and drinking alcohol; which is, of course, a drug – a killer one). Teens who smoke tobacco concern me terribly too.

    I’m confused about this story though. Though I believe the teen years is a bit young to experiment with cannabis (or any herb that might have drug-like effects), the use of drugs scares me much more.

    As science has taught us recently, cannabis has many health-enhancing alkaloids, and thc is just one of them.

    In fact I wish I’d known about CBD in high school (as an athlete I would have excelled greatly).

    After college, the use of alcohol and cannabis was not of interest to me anymore.

    Then at age 50, I encountered health problems. I developed 4 of the qualifiers (very painful ones) to become a cannabis patient. But cannabis was not yet legal in my state so I was put on opiates (could have killed me).

    Recently medical cannabis became legal in my state and I am now a patient. It has turned my life around completely. It is very different than the cannabis I used in college. It is an indica, which is known for it’s higher cbd and less thc (or close to equal amount of thc/cbd).

    If someone is looking for a high, medical cannabis is really not going to be what they seek.

    You may wonder why I call it cannabis and not marijuana. In the scientific/and medical community it is called “cannabis”. The term “marijuana” is a racist term not even used in America until Sen Joseph McCarthy named it so (to frighten people before the release of Reefer Madness). McCarthy was already addicted to opiates and they were being ushered into America as the “newer safer DRUG than MARIJUANA (the Hispanic term for cannabis). It worked and in around 1933 cannabis, once the safest and most prescribed medicine in America was banned, and opiates took over. Harry Anslinger, McCarthy’s best friend and America’s first drug czar facilitated that for his buddy.

    Before you write about the evils of cannabis, consider this. If you live long enough, chances are extremely high (no pun intended) that it will save your life.

    Thank you.

    Richard Atkinson
    Little Rock, Ar

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