The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 63,632 individuals died in 2016 as a result of drug overdose. Among these, 66 percent died from opioid overdose. The statistics are derived from in-depth research that was carried out by the research institute in 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that cases of drug abuse are swiftly spreading geographically and increasing demographically. The research provokes worry since school-going teenagers have not been spared by the unfortunate trend. Increased use of drugs among the youth accounts for the increased rates of overdose in our educational institutions. Not only does the trend affect the educational pursuits of the youth, it also affects their sociological welfare and health.
Thus, there is a great need to address this problem. Even though the government is expected to provide strict policies and laws to prevent the uprising of this trend, it is also the duty of parents, educationists as well as medical practitioners in curbing prescription drug abuse in our school-going children. Police and other federal agencies should also be actively involved in arresting individuals who illegally peddle the prescription drugs. Given the dangers posed by prescription drugs use, it is important to evaluate the implications of drugs on the youth and the ensuing effects on education and health.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that prescription drug abuse has cost our economy $26 billion in 2013 alone. It also shows that more losses continue to be recorded as a result of prescription drug abuse. In regards to the manifestation of the concern high schools, prescription drugs come in second, slightly behind marijuana which leads at 38 percent of the total cases of drug abuse. The rate of Vicodin stands at 8 percent, Adderall at 6.5 percent, Salvia at 5.9 percent while tranquilizers and sedatives stand at 5.6 percent. These stark figures show that the country is headed in the wrong direction with regards to providing a panacea to the drug prescription problem among the youth the federal government, as well as the state governments, should commit more resources in ensuring that this trend does not rise further, claiming the lives of our young generation.
According to CNN, a leading information and news corporation, deaths resulting from prescription drug abuse and overdose have had a 19 percent increase between the year 2014 and 2015. While 3.1 in 100,000 teenagers between 15 and 19 succumbed to this trend in 2014, the number rose to 3.7 in 100,000. There is much cause for worry since these deaths have been primarily caused by opioids and prescribed painkillers such as oxycodone. The uprising of this trend would not only have a negative result in our school institutions but also in our economy. The losing of young members of our society denies our social growth. It not only does so but also paints our society in dim light. These figures show that we are currently not doing enough as parents and teachers in protecting our children from destructive habits and indulgences. Actually, the indulgence in drugs by our youth indicate that the generation is facing many underlying problems, such as lack of parental support, love, and care.
The negative impact of the abuse of prescription drugs on youth education cannot be overstated. Research has shown that teenagers who have abused drugs tend to show disinterest in classes, other curricular activities, and co-curricular activities. As a result, the individual’s record drastic change in grades and academic performance. The article Drug Abuse and Academic Performance suggests that the use of prescription drugs inspires the youth to cheat in exams, cut classes and drop out of school.
The abuse of prescription drugs also affect the sleeping patterns of our teenagers meaning that their sleep is distracted. Such reality hinders their ability to concentrate in class and perform optimally.
Apart from the above-listed consequences of prescription drug abuse, this behavior also results in many health-related problems. Prescription abusers are susceptible to cardiovascular disease, stroke as well as heart attack. They are also at a risk of HIV/AIDS, cancer, mental disease as well as lung disease. Depression is also a significant health burden that results from the increased use of prescription drugs. Similar concern is shared by the study on chronic stress, drug use, and vulnerability to addiction, which suggests that chronic stress is a risk factor that is significantly exacerbated by the use of drugs among the youth. Thus, serious measures should be undertaken into making sure that our children are protected and safe from this vice. Not only would this result in their better health, but also in better academic performance. Curbing drug abuse would indeed not only give our youths the tools of success but also give them hope for future success.
Many states have positively responded to this issue by establishing policies and laws that intend to curb prescription drug abuse in our society, especially among the youth. Alabama passed Act 256 that made changes in the controlling substance prescription database advisory committee. In doing so, it makes it compulsory for payment information to be included in the sale of prescribed drugs. It would close the window that would otherwise enable criminals to freely peddle the drugs, causing ruin in our educational institutions and society in general. Although more of these laws are being passed yearly, a swifter course of action needs to be invoked. It will only happen if we all internalize the reality of the matter. Prescription drugs are killing our children and education system.
Yasir Khan is a pediatric neurologist.
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