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The Hidden Epidemic: Normalized Drug and Alcohol Use in Teenagers

Drug and alcohol use among teenagers is a serious issue that is often overlooked. Recent studies have indicated that an extensive percentage of adolescents ranging from the 8th to the 12th grade are experimenting with drugs and alcohol; this experimentation leads some down a path towards addiction. 


The escalating trend stirs particular concern on account of the growing normalization amongst teenage populations in regard to drug and alcohol consumption—especially given the role played by over-the-counter medicines and prescription medications as initial substances of abuse. The escalating acceptance of drug and alcohol consumption among adolescents represents a grave issue of note; specifically alarming is the tendency toward consuming over-the-counter remedies and prescribed medications without appropriate caution or regulation. Research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that there's an increase in the past-month usage of illicit drugs among students in the 12th grade to a worrisome percentage since 22. In 2008 the prevalence of the phenomenon increased from a mere 6% to an appreciable 25%. In 2020 it was 50%. This is worrying. People think store-bought and prescribed drugs are safer and easier to get than illegal drugs. However, this is a dangerous misconception. The reality is that these substances can be just as addictive and harmful as illegal drugs. The "Monitoring the Future" survey shows that fewer 12th graders are misusing prescription drugs, but it's still a big problem. Teens are still more likely to use drugs and alcohol because they can easily get over-the-counter drugs. This might lead them to become addicted at a young age. Therefore, it is crucial to address the issue of the normalization of drug and alcohol use in teenagers and to educate them about the potential dangers and consequences of using these substances. 


Over-the-counter drugs like cough syrup and painkillers can lead to addiction in teens. A study shows that over 15% of high school seniors used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons last year. Commonly perceived as less detrimental and more readily available compared to their illicit counterparts. Over-the-counter medications present a tempting avenue for adolescents desirous of exploratory experiences. Nevertheless, the active constituents contained within these drugs possess the potential to form habits and precipitate addiction if they are utilized improperly. Dextromethorphan is in many cough syrups and if you take too much of it on purpose to feel high could become addicted. Teens might not know that medicines from the store can be harmful if mixed with things like alcohol and cause health problems. It's also important to note that teenagers may not fully understand the potential consequences of their actions. It is commonly presumed by them that due to the over-the-counter medications being legal and the ability to acquire them sans prescription embodies their safety. Misusing these drugs can cause bad results like trouble in school and with friends. It can also get you into legal problems. Teenagers who abuse store-bought drugs might start using illegal ones because they get used to the drug effects. More teens are using drugs you can buy without a prescription. This can cause addiction and harm them. It is crucial that parents, educators, and healthcare providers take a proactive approach to educating teenagers about the risks associated with these medications and work to prevent teenage drug abuse.


 In conclusion, the normalization of drug and alcohol use among teenagers in 8th-12th grade is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The epidemic that remains unseen is frequently a result of the ease with which individuals can obtain and improperly use over-the-counter medication; this may often result in addiction along with other detrimental repercussions. Implementing preventative tactics to tackle this pressing issue proves imperative—an example being the provision of education to young adults regarding the perils associated with drug and alcohol consumption; furthermore, it is essential to enhance restrictions and fortify surveillance on the dispersal of those over-the-counter medications. Through proactive measures taken by individuals and the broader community alike—an intervention not only necessary but imperative—for we must protect both the welfare and the promising futures of our adolescent population. It is incumbent upon us to guarantee their capability to lead lives characterized by health and thriving success. 



Works Cited “Exploring substance use normalization among adolescents: a multilevel study in 35 countries.” PubMed, 2013, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24161099/. Accessed 29 April 2024. “National Study Confirms Teen Drug Use Trending in Wrong Direction: Marijuana, Ecstasy Use Up Since 2008, Parents Feel Ill-Equipped To Respond.” drugfree.org, 5 March 2024, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953613005030. Accessed 29 April 2024. “National Study Confirms Teen Drug Use Trending in Wrong Direction: Marijuana, Ecstasy Use Up Since 2008, Parents Feel Ill-Equipped To Respond.” Partnership to End Addiction, 6 April 2011, https://drugfree.org/newsroom/news-item/national-study-confirms-teen-drug-use-trending-inwrong-direction-marijuana-ecstasy-use-up-since-2008-parents-feel-ill-equipped-to-respond/. Accessed 29 April 2024


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