The picture of today’s drug problem with high school kids is shifting. Perhaps many of us still carried with us the image of Jeff Spicoli emerging from a cloud of marijuana smoke as he fell out of his van in the 1980s film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” It made us laugh. Maybe some could relate.
Smoking a little “smoke” is a culture even popular in the traditionally conservative country music industry, nowadays. States across the Union are legalizing the use of marijuana. So, where’s the harm, right?
Last week police arrested a teenager at a local high school in an affluent suburb of Albany County. This wasn’t your father’s drug bust — a fraudulent driver’s license, 225 Xanax pills, a bottle of Hydrocodone syrup, 25 grams of MDMA (or Molly) and nearly $2,000 worth of US currency.
At 17 years old, the young man is contemplating a future much different than that of his peers at school. In a time when his peers are planning college visits and plotting out a future beyond high school, he’s forced to have a candid conversation with his family and his lawyer about an uncertain, immediate future.
The problem with our perception to drugs in high school is that it’s not marijuana kids are smoking today. Look at the laundry list above. Mind altering drugs as easy to obtain as raiding your own medicine cabinet. And, if that’s not scary enough, there is the ever-present issue with heroin use. Heroin addiction is so prevalent in our area, Albany County Jail has launched a treatment unit to address inmates who have the problem. In neighboring Vermont, addiction is at such an epidemic height, users looking to rehabilitate sit on waiting lists to detox.
Not New York City.
Though a weapon was not found, the amount of money allegedly found is alarming. It speaks of an operation that could easily lead to a dangerous situation. And, as much as we feel sheltered in our bedroom communities with garden clubs and nationally ranked high schools, the potential drug element that revealed itself last week will ultimately lead to unthinkable violence.
Parents of elementary and middle school students need to have these conversations now: Be aware of the company you keep, and stay away from drugs. Thinking your child isn’t going to be approached to use drugs plays into an environment that makes him or her easy prey. School is stressful and the allure of finding an escape can be strong. It’s your job to help him or her find that escape through family time, and not in the back of a van.
Or, in a cell.