"I Am Not Scared" Project
The use of drugs among students
Six high-school students, aged 14 and 15, used spice drugs inside the school. During the break, they gathered in the school bathroom and consumed various spice drugs which they had purchased. After they used drugs, four of the teenagers got sick. They became agitated, delirious and had hallucinations. The classmates called the emergency number 112 and the six teenagers were carried to the hospital. The tests proved that they took synthetic drugs.
Toxicology tests were carried out in order to determine the substances the teenagers took. The tests showed that they had synthetic drugs, which despite not being illegal, can have serious consequences on the human body. The teenagers’ condition was settled. They stayed in hospital for 3 days. As the teenagers used synthetic drugs for the first time, the doctors said they do not need to enter a rehabilitation programme.
The school management started an investigation in this case. They announced the police, local government and law enforcement agencies that in the school neighbourhood there are shops which sell this kind of products. They requested these shops to be banned in order to avoid children being tempted to buy those substances.
Additionally, each students’ records were examined in order to find out if they had used drugs before. Moreover, the students’ behaviour inside and ouside the school, their grades and participation in different school activities had also been looked into. Parent meetings were arranged in order to find solutions.
The six teenagers were administered psychological tests, their behaviour having been analysed by the school counselor. Both students and parents started individual and group counseling so as to identify the reasons why they purchased and used the drugs and to avoid similar situations in the future.
Teachers’ meetings took place in order to approach this particular case, to find out if teachers are somehow responsible for the situation and to establish measures for fighting against drug use at the school level.
All in all, they concluded that there was a need for information on the risks of drug use. Below, one can find some measures which have been suggested for implementation:
- Raise teenagers’ awareness on damaging effects of the synthetic drug use during the homeroom classes.
- Workshops on different topics: Defining drugs; Drug Types, From occasional use to addiction; Case studies/ Life Experiences – Teenagers who have used drugs, Consequences etc. These workshops should be attended by students, teachers, parents, doctors and representatives for different NGOs.
- Discussions and debates on documentary films about drug use effects on students’ personal and school life.
- Disseminate informative materials on drugs and their effects.
- Inform teachers on drug use effects among teenagers and strategies to deal with drug use.
Synthetic drug use is common among highschoolers, being a common practice especially during teenagers’ parties. These substances can be easily purchased, they can be found next to schools or in pubs.
According to a government emergency order, they added to the list mentioned in Law 143/2000 36 plants and substances for which growing, production, manufacturing, experiencing, extraction, preparing, delivering, sending, transportation, purchasing or possessing without right are prohibited. In case of non-compliance, a penalty of 3 to 15 years of imprisonment for low-risk substances or 10 to 20 years of imprisonment for high-risk drugs would be applied. At the beginning of April, new products which had not been included in the above-mentioned list were reported to be purchased in Iași. They can be purchased not only on the Internet, but also in several shops in the city which have not been closed yet. Thus, urgent measures should be taken for both identification and prohibition of the new spice drugs. Otherwise, we might experience a new wave of psychoactive drug intoxications. After the law was approved, the psychoactive substances use lowered suddenly. However, the new substances must be prohibited.
Nowadays, the teenagers are experiencing anxiety and stressful situations, which can make them resort to various solutions in order to cope with them for the moment. These stressful elements combined with aspects such as curiosity, group influence, nonconformism may lead to actions which can have short and long term effects on a personal, school and social level. The following symptoms may occur: abundant perspiration, anxiety, hallucinations, antisocial behavior, increased aggressivity, paranoia, depression, low attention decreased attention, inability to concentrate, short term memory is affected, heart conditions (tachycardia, palpitations). Moreover, spice drug use may have an impact on family life – generate conflicts, lack of confidence, home leaving, violence; on school life – lack of interest in school matters, absences, school abandonment, expelling, exclusion by the group.
As a result to spice drugs use, the six students displayed violent behaviour, they thrusted two other students forward without severe consequences and they used slang and insults. Even if from our point of view the two aggressed students were victims, they neither looked affected by the incident nor filed a complaint. We might call victims the 5 students who were influenced by their mate who had bought the drugs. Still they were not made to use drugs. They used the substances being aware of the possible consequences. Thus they were not victims.
Furthermore, we can say that all the students were affected by the incident.
The student who purchased the products, after several counseling sessions and discussions with the parents and school management confessed to having used ethnobotanical plants before: “after the first cigarette I felt happier and everybody talked to me. I made some friends, we went to the same parties and we had a great time together. Everybody used these products and nothing bad happened to anyone. On the contrary, we were enjoying ourselves and we used to buy etnobotanical plants together”.
The other students said that they consumed drugs out of curiosity. They did not know that they will do them harm. After the counseling sessions and discussions with the school management, they became aware of their actions and they promised neither to resort to this kind of products nor to let themselves to be influenced by the others.
The students said that the spice drugs have become a kind of personal card for the popularity in their groups. They also mentioned that the students from the downtown area prefer using marijuana or other plants. The alcohol use is considered outdated, while a drug user gains in popularity.
The classmates said they had not known that the six students would have intended to use spice drugs. When they noticed their inappropriate behaviour (became violent and use slang words) they thought their mates used alcohol, but when the saw they got sick they called an ambulance.
The classmates, despite being aware of the frequency of spice drugs use among students, were reluctant and they said they would never use this kind of products.
The form teacher said that in general, the sanctions applied in this situation are low grade for bad behaviour and in some cases even expelling. However, what is important in this situation is not how the student is punished but what solutions are found for protecting students from temptations. Form teachers, teachers and families all contribute to finding solutions.
The teachers pointed out the importance of topic-related activities and information dissemination. Additionally, the real cases which present the drug use consequences have a great impact on teenagers.
Finding solutions and preventing similar cases in the future are considered to be urgent and represent the top priority for the school management. The school manager/headmaster got involved in this case and took all the necessary measures for its resolution. Also, he intends to ensure more careful monitoring in the event of new similar situations.
There has been announced the investment in a large number of resources – human and financial, for campaigns and prevention and information activities.
The school headmaster supports the informing campaigns on spice drug use risks in schools. The teachers are recommended to inform students and their families on the harmful effects is the substances. Furthermore, the partnership with different entities in preventing spice drug use is encouraged.
The parents involved in this case belong to low income families with poor education. They do not know how to act and support their children to cope with this kind of temptations. However, they have been very co-operative and willing to get involved in the counseling and informing process. They said that they would be more watchful regarding their children friends and activities.
Both form teachers and school physicians have to inform the students on the spice drug use effects.
The children should be given alternatives, the teachers should get more involved in projects proposing ways for spending the free time.
The students can freely purchase ethnobotanical plants in shops or on the internet. The spice drugs use in more frequent and tolerated in the uptown highschools. In general, the users are the well-off students who tempts poorer students to use these substances as well.
Rebellious teenagers, resistant to their parents’ authority, who display guilt or failure feelings are especially prone to toxic substances use.
The need for strong sensations and the tendition to undertake risky activities may increase the need for this kind of substances.
It is highly important to look into the ways students can influence one another, in this case a student who made other 5 peers use drugs.
One should also consider the fact that drug effects are unpredictable, if not having been stopped by their peers, the students might have become even more violent and give birth to more dangerous situations.
We recommend parents and teachers to monitor the signs which might describe drug use, to refer to specialists in order to be given all the necessary information for reducing the consequences.
From the beginning of the school year up to the present, the Iasi County school inspectorate registered three cases of violence caused by spice drug use.
The representatives of the inspectorate reported that each school manager was required to take measures and to organize informing activities monthly or whenever needed. At the school level, we have organized parent-teacher meetings, invited competent partners such as – Community Police, County Police Inspectorate, NGOs representatives.
Local police representatives reported 100 controls in shops which sell spice drugs. 37 people were inquired, two of them were charged with selling halluconogenic substances.
The law enforcement officers focused their attention on internet herb sales.
Iasi local government representatives reported that they issued an order according to which mixed groups from the involved institutions shall work together for putting an end to this phenomenon. They aim at fighting spice drug use and at identifying the people who are responsible for the illegal activities.
The causes which make teenagers use drugs are many. Most of them started using drugs out of pure curiosity, eager to experience drug effects, new sensations, feelings. They want to feel good, high and relaxed. The drug use can be challenging. Some are ready to ignore the risks without being stopped by words such as danger, addiction or death. The need for affirmation with the group and the fear to be rejected, isolated by the group if they refuse their friends’ suggestions, make them not to consider the risks they get exposed to.
Group pressure is decisive in arousing their curiosity, the group is the factor which may or not contribute to teenagers’ personality development, according to their self-esteem level, the depth of their life ideal, family relationships, school results.
The school management will continue to carry out activities, with the intent to inform a large number of students on these substances use.
The students can best understand and become aware of drug use effect when they are involved in various campaigns against drugs. They should be encouraged to be creative and involved in different activities in order to raise their self-esteem and to make the most of their citizenship.
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I Am Not Scared Project
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