Twenty percent of eighth-graders report that they have tried marijuana. More than 60 percent of teens say that drugs are sold, used, or kept at their schools.
Statistics concerning drug addiction involve people as young as 12 years old. They suggest that more than 600,000 Canadians age 15 and older are alcohol dependent.
Something needs to be done about the inevitably destructive relationship between drugs, alcohol, and youth. We are Grade 7 students in West Vancouver. We have been studying drugs and alcohol, and we want to raise awareness about substance abuse.
Adolescent bodies are dramatically different from those of adults. Their brains are still developing, and their bodies are still growing. Youth can be even more at risk of substance abuse than adults because of their height and weight. Youth under 15 years of age are at greater risk of harmful effects from drugs and alcohol.
The prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until 21 years of age. The most at-risk part of the brain is the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory. The hippocampus of a teen who abuses alcohol is about 10 percent smaller than that of a healthy teen. Substance abuse increases the likelihood that a teen will be involved in a suicide, homicide, or car accident.
So what do you think can be done? What action can be taken? We can raise awareness about how this hurts lives—emotionally, mentally, and physically. So spread the word, share your newfound knowledge, and help raise awareness about drugs and alcohol.
Lauren Emerson, Hyva Saraie, Holly Robertshaw, and Gustavo Schiele are Grade 7 students at West Bay elementary school in West Vancouver.
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