The CDC reports that by 12th grade, approximately 60% of students have tried alcohol and that young people aged between 10 and 20 consume about one-tenth of alcohol sales in the country. Additionally, about half of high school students reported using marijuana, and one-fifth of high school seniors have used prescription medication without a prescription.

These statistics show that the majority of adolescents engage in illegal substance use during their high school careers. Due to the significant population of students experimenting with drugs and alcohol, school administrators need to know appropriate strategies for discouraging this dangerous behavior without resorting to bullying or unhelpful scare tactics.

What Causes SUD in Teens?

Peer pressure to use substances may initiate a habit that develops into SUD. Trouble in their relationships at home, school, or work may also cause adolescents to turn to alcohol or drugs. Harvard Health Blog notes that a disposition to seek risky behaviors caused by a partially developed prefrontal cortex in teenagers may spark a desire to try substances.

How Should Schools Respond to Incidents of Substance Use?

Mental health disorders need to be treated through a combination of therapy and medication. School administrators may not be authorized to provide one or both of those treatments, but officials should know where students can access these resources. Community support is critical for the student to seek recovery.

Harsh disciplinary action, such as expulsion, may inspire resentment and cause later reliance on substances. Punishment for disobeying clearly defined rules is certainly important, but neglecting to share information on SUD and potential plans of action only hurt the students.

SAMHSA offers programs and informational literature to students and families about substance use. Bringing any substance to school property is against the rules, but a conscientious and caring administrator will evaluate the situation of the student and react accordingly. If that student is in danger of developing a SUD, they need treatment more than punishment.

At Alta Loma Transformational Services, we are experts on substance use disorders, and we understand that you are the only expert on your needs. Our dedicated team of mental health professionals wants to develop a treatment plan based on their years of experience that satisfies your unique needs. We want to equip you with the tools you need to manage your addiction and pursue a life of mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. If you are interested, call us at (866) 457-3843 today.