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Substance Abuse in the Classroom

A number of national studies show that drug abuse is up and teen perception of its risk is down.

A number of national studies show that drug abuse is up and teen perception of its risk is down. Marijuana continues to be the top favorite among American teens, with nearly seven percent of high school seniors smoking it every day. These potent substances are touted as a safer alternative to illicit drugs like marijuana, but they are in fact mind-altering chemicals that produce violent, erratic behavior including suicide and physical behavior.

Ecstasy is another substance popular among teens. It is extremely addictive with a high potential for overdose. It is most commonly found at parties and concerts, especially among the crowd.

Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

In addition to knowing what's out there, it is important to become familiar with the signs of abuse so you can fend off storms before they become hurricanes. Each drug has its own specific manifestations, but with all drug abuse you will likely see:

• Sudden, unexpected behavior changes
• Seclusion; withdrawing from friends and family
• Unusual sleep patterns, such as staying up all night and sleeping all day
• Losing interest in hobbies, sports, or other activities that used to be of interest
• Changes in personal grooming--users typically have an unkempt appearance
• Red, bloodshot or glassy eyes

Many assume that users lack moral principles or tenacity. Yet it is not always that simple. Drug addiction is a complex condition, and the web of reasons for abuse often has to be untangled before true recovery can take place.

Physical rehabilitation is essential, enabling the user to break free from the toxic grip of drugs on the body. However, recovery does not end there. The user must come to terms with his reasons for use if he is going to prevent relapse. It may be the people in his life, lack of direction, or a desire to fit in with one's peers that led to drug abuse in the first place.

The easiest way to stop drug abuse is through prevention. Drug education is extremely effective in preventing abuse and addiction. Talk to your students about drug and alcohol abuse. Encourage open discussion. Do not punish curiosity. Don't forsake students who do turn to drug abuse, unless you wish to lose them entirely.

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