All through grade school and junior high, Helias students were taught the negative consequences of using drugs and alcohol. Most students took the pledge to stay drug and alcohol free when they went through the D.A.R.E. program during fifth grade. However, once teenagers enter high school that pledge they made a few short years ago is forgotten. According to the Council for Drug Free Youth, alcohol is the drug of choice among Jefferson City teenagers. Nights and weekends at their own home, at a friend’s house or in cars, are times alcohol is most frequently abused.
Even though students know that it is harmful to drink before the age of 21, a study conducted by John Hopkins University found that 78% of high school students have tried alcohol by their senior year. The reasons given for drinking often include: fitting in, relaxing, curbing boredom, forgetting problems, and creating acivities where there were none.
The Council for Drug Free Youth has found that alcohol use or abuse is also tolerated by many parents of high school students. Some parents are allowing their teens to drink regardless of it being illegal.
While it may be difficult for teenagers to avoid the peer pressure of drinking in high school, it is not impossible. There are many opportunities for students to become involved at Helias without consuming alcohol. Athletics can play a large part in helping teens avoid drinking in high school. Kylie Muholland is one such athlete that believes that alcohol use conflicts with her desire to live a long and healthy and active life and credits this as one of the many reasons she has decided not to drink or use drugs. Mulholland has also said that to avoid alcohol she surrounds herself with people who have the same interests and values as her so she does not even have the temptation. Ethan Rackers a junior at Helias does not drink because, “I don’t drink or do drugs because I care about myself and my future. I am smart enough not to risk the things I care about just to try to have fun or to be cool.”
In addition to athletics, there are many clubs and organizations to occupy a student’s time rather than falling victim to drug and alcohol use. The SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club at Helias tries to educate students against making harmful decisions during the teen years. SADD also provides positive activities for students to get involved in. By becoming involved in the positive opportunities offered at school, Helias students can avoid becoming part of the 78% of teens who drink before graduating from high school.