Drugs in High School


Drugs can be counterfeit or laced with other drugs so people are not certain of what drug they are actually ingesting

Lydia Cusick, Staff Writer

In November 2017, Vista Principal Lori Emmington sent an email to Vista families about drugs in school, specifically Xanax and fentanyl. Attached to the email was a letter from the Folsom Police Department further explaining the issue of drug use in school.

According to an article by Everyday Health, Xanax is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders. It is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, and it comes in different forms.

In the letter from the Folsom Police Department, Detective Chad Friedrich said, “I was told by a student that uses Xanax that it is extremely cheap and easy to buy. The drug may be cheaper to buy than marijuana.”

“[There is an increase of Xanax usage among students because] they for some reason think that mentally, it’s ok because it’s a prescription drug,” said Kim Moore, the assistant principal at Vista.

Fentanyl is another dangerous drug. It is less common among teens compared to Xanax, but according to an article by The National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times stronger.

Another problem for people to keep in mind is that drugs can be mislabeled and/or laced with other drugs, and combining drugs can also be harmful.

“Unlabeled or street drugs can be anything,” said Jacqueline Donnelly, the nurse at Vista.  “Even drugs that appear to be from the same batch may be completely different. Just because one person said they took it and had a great time does not mean the next person will receive the same dose of the drug, so the outcome is unpredictable and can be dangerous or even deadly. Mixing of any drugs can lead to unintended consequences.”

According to Everyday Health, taking benzodiazepines and opioids together can result in  a number of side effects including extreme sleepiness, slowed or difficult breathing, coma, or death.

“Both Xanax and Fentanyl can have unintended consequences when taken without prescription and or mixed with other drugs,” said Donnelly. “Street opioids and heroin can be unexpectedly potent because they may be mixed with fentanyl, a very powerful and dangerous anti-pain medication, which can cause respiratory arrest rapidly. (sic)”

“I’ve seen some students take drugs that they thought were one thing and it ended up being something else, and they ended up being in the hospital because of that choice,” Moore said.

According to an article by The Guardian, there have been counterfeit Xanax pills laced with fentanyl that were sold. People who purchase drugs illegally can’t be sure of what they are actually taking, which is a concern.

Taking and/or selling drugs does not only impact a student’s health, but it also impacts their academics and permanent record.

Students are usually caught taking drugs more than selling them. “It would be rare for selling it and if students are found selling it, that can be a felony as well [as] expulsion,” Moore said.

The world is currently facing an opioid epidemic, and according to an The National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 90 Americans die each day from opioid overdose.

Vista is not experiencing this epidemic at this level. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t concerning. “I definitely think it’s something we need to be aware of and something we should be educating our students and our parents and our families about because the younger students start to take drugs or go down this path, the more likely they are to become addicted, and so those conversations need to be happening so that we can prevent more students from it becoming a crisis situation,” said Moore.

Other’s share Moore’s concern. “It’s a shame because I see it affecting students who have so much potential and they make a slip like that and there’s permanent repercussions on their lives. If not their health, than their schooling and you hate to see people do that to themselves,” said Tracy Suter, a math teacher at Vista.

To stop the drug use at school, students can make good choices when it comes to their friends, and there are adults on campus who are there to help when students are going through a hard time and are thinking that drugs are the only option.

“Students need to know that every adult here will help you get the support you need,” said Moore.