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Burton High Stories: Overcoming Drug Use

Edison Lee, a senior at Burton High School.

Students studying health sciences at Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School in San Francisco worked with KALW radio to share their perspectives on health issues and solutions. This story comes from Edison Lee, a senior at Burton who helped a friend find alternatives to vaping.

My name is Edison Lee and I am a senior at Burton High School. I participate in the Academy of Health Sciences.

When I think of health, I think about what people consume and how it affects their bodies. People consume many things such as food, beverages, and air. People also consume drugs. There are drugs like Advil and Tylenol, which are quite helpful to consume under certain circumstances. But, there are also drugs like nicotine and cannabis, which are harmful to young adults like myself. As high school students, we're all too familiar with the pressure to fit in and try new things, but it's important that we understand the dangers of these substances.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11.7% of 12th graders vaped nicotine daily in 2019. From 2018-2019, the number of 12th graders vaping increased from 3.6% up to 8.1%, because they are addicted. Additionally, 20.8% of 12th graders vape marijuana, as well as 19.4% of 10th graders, and 7% of eighth graders. After researching these statistics, I was shocked at how high drug use was among teens. One major cause of drug use is peer pressure. This is due to the fact that most of the time, teens are influenced to do things because their friends do it and are pressured to follow along to be cool or to fit in.

An example of this is a friend of mine that I have known for a year who vapes, but has made attempts to quit. They have been influenced by hanging around other people that regularly use nicotine and marijuana. As a result, they have followed along and have become addicted. “It’s not worth it, I lost all motivation for things I used to have fun doing and I feel down when I don’t have my vape with me,” they told me when I asked them about their new habit. This hurt me as a friend because I saw them changing physically and mentally and becoming careless in their responsibilities. After some time, my friend agreed to find better alternatives to using drugs.

That’s when I encouraged them to go with me to the gym. They were unwilling to in the beginning, but after some convincing it became a regular routine for them. After the first month, they began to regain some motivation and started to feel less stressed out, since going to the gym releases neurotransmitters, chemicals in the brain that act as natural good drugs. In contrast to the addictive substances of nicotine and marijuana released into your body, exercising is a positive alternative that makes a person feel good. Doing something that provides a sense of purpose is just one solution.

Take it from me; if you’re a teenager, look for alternatives to using drugs. There are better ways to solve your issues. Try a new sport, talk to a person you trust or go outside and enjoy nature. Don’t vape or smoke, it's not worth it.