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Among School Dropouts

According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health Survey (2003), an estimated 19. 5 million Americans aged 12 and older were current users of illicit drugs in 2002, meaning that they used an illicit drug at least once during the 30 days prior to being interviewed. With this scenario, dropping out of school is seen to be a possible clue that a student is using drugs. It is very crucial to note this incidence in order to help students in the earlier stages of addiction.

This is because about two-thirds of substance-abusing youths continue to use drugs in adulthood, but about half desist from other criminal activities. Thus, this study will venture into investigating and analyzing the possible relationship of dropping out of school among high school and college students and the possibility that they are using drugs. Investigating the Incidence of Substance Abuse among School Dropouts Introduction Fighting drug abuse has always been a grave concern in the recent years.

Despite numerous declarations of a “war on drugs” over the past decades, Americans continue to produce, use and sell illegal narcotics. Illegal drugs are both a symptom and a cause of some of American society’s most intractable problems, including high crime rates, homelessness and juvenile delinquency. Not to mention, the government is spending millions of dollars to thwart America’s drug problems (see Appendix A).

According to National Survey on Drug Use and Health survey data that were released in 2003, an estimated 19.5 million Americans aged 12 and older were current users of illicit drugs in 2002, meaning that they used an illicit drug at least once during the 30 days prior to being interviewed. Marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug in 2002, was used by 75% of those reporting drug use. Approximately 55% of illicit drug users consumed only marijuana, 20% used marijuana and another illicit drug, and the remaining 25% used an illicit drug but not marijuana in the past month.

Hence, overall, about 45% of current illicit drug users in 2002 (an estimated 8.8 million Americans) were users of illicit drugs other than marijuana and hashish, with or without the use of marijuana (See Figure 1). Thus, explore America’s drug culture is to examine the criminal justice system, the health care system, economic system and even the educational system. As in previous National NSDUH surveys, the 2002 survey found that substance-abuse rates remain highly correlated with educational status. Among young adults 18 years and older, those who have not completed high school have the highest rate of abuse (9.1%), whereas college graduates have the lowest rate of abuse (5. 8%).

This is despite the fact that adults who had completed four years of college were more likely to have tried illicit drugs in their lifetime than adults who had not completed high school (50. 5% versus 37. 1%). Hence, the more education a person receives, the more likely that person is to discontinue using drugs with age. Figure 1. Types of Drugs Used in the Past Month by Illicit Drug Users, Age 12 and Older, 2002.

(Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2003). Especially the youths, it is a bleak reality that substance abuse is still heavily being practiced. Self-report surveys indicate that more than half of high school seniors have tried drugs and more than 90 percent use alcohol (Institute for Social Research, 16 December 2002). Adolescents at high risk for drug abuse often come from the most impoverished communities and experience a multitude of problems, including school failure and family conflict (Greenwood 1992, p.445).

Equally troubling is the association between drug use and crime (U. S. Department of Justice, 1989). Research indicates that more than half of all juvenile arrestees in some cities test positive for cocaine (National Institute of Justice, 2003). Self-report surveys show that drug abusers are more likely to become delinquents than are non-abusers (Mackesy-Amiti and Michael Fendrich, 1995). The pattern of drug use and crime makes juvenile substance abuse a key national concern.

Former Senator John Chaffee once stated that, “Dropouts disappear from high school corridors, but they do not disappear from society. Rather, their names show up on the welfare rolls; they become drug abuse statistics, or they wind up in our overcrowded prison system. . . . The dropout exodus is increasing the number of those who live on the margin of society, while our social welfare costs and, too frequently, our penal institutions pay the costs”. (Dorn, 1996, p. 127). Indeed, as Table 1 represents, there is still a steady growth of drug use among U. S. high school students.

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