At Berkeley High School (BHS), most students rarely hear about drug and alcohol-related information after the Social Living class they take in freshman year. Although there are some avenues of information, they are either very vague or not sufficient in helping students. This is a grave issue, and students should have more access to information on substance abuse.
Substance abuse for minors within the US is a concerning topic and one that we as a community should become more aware of. According to research carried out by the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), California teenagers are 24.46 percent more likely to use drugs than the average American teenager. The type of drug also varies, with marijuana being the most common — 85.03 percent of teens reported consuming it in the last month — followed by painkillers, cocaine, and methamphetamine. According to an article published by Berkeleyside in 2016, “ninth and eleventh graders reported being drunk or stoned on school property [in Berkeley] twice as much as the national average.” To address this, BHS should provide drug and alcohol classes for all students throughout their four years.
The BHS webpage does contain resources for parents on how to talk to their kids about substance abuse and seeking treatment. However, it fails to provide help for students who might not have support at home. There should be help provided directly to students, as they are the ones going to school.
Although lots of students have received at least some sort of alcohol or drug education — including classes, lectures, or presentations — a significant portion of students say they haven’t partaken in anything of the sort, with some of them even being seniors who have attended BHS since their freshman year.
In these times, it is essential that students have access to any type of help that they may need, should they find themselves in a harmful situation. As a school, BHS must work to provide these resources through accessible education programs. There are many forms of support that can be provided to students who are facing a crisis, such as providing outlets for students to vocalize drug-related struggles and experiences, as well as working to create an environment where those who need help regarding substance abuse are motivated to seek it rather than be ashamed about it.