Substance abuse still cause for concern


Kayla Lane

Synthetic marijuana packaging targets youth

Good news, only 30 percent of Gloucester High students have reported binge drinking in the last month – this represents a decrease since 2007.

Bad news, this number is still higher than state and national averages, compared to 19 percent statewide, and 21 percent nationally.  Marijuana use levels in Gloucester are also higher than state and national levels.

According to the the Gloucester Youth Collaborative survey, 42 percent of Gloucester middle and high school students said they have recently consumed alcohol,  1 in 2 students have used marijuana at least once, and 1 in 3 students have used marijuana in the last month.

Prescription drugs are also a problem with 31 percent of students saying prescription drugs are easy for them to obtain.

Last month, Gloucester Youth Council held an event with the Healthy Gloucester Collaborative to discuss underage abuse of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.

“Seeing these numbers for such a small town is very surprising to me, being from L.A,” said Jay Smiledge, who attended the event.

The Healthy Gloucester Collaborative is a network of public and private community members whose goal is to create a healthier environment for Gloucester youth, while Gloucester Youth Council is the youth committee of the collaborative.

“We strive to make positive outcomes in the community for youth and adults” said GHS. senior Emily Neves, a member of the GYC.

According to presenters alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs are not the only problem. Synthetic marijuana is also a concern.

Synthetic marijuana is a product that looks like shreds of grass and can also be called “fake marijuana.” Health initiatives condemn this drug as dangerous and addictive.

Sold online and in stores, the packages attract younger kids with pictures of Scooby Doo, superheroes, and even Disney characters. Synthetic marijuana is technically classified as poisonous and is one hundred times more potent than real marijuana.

This is a concern for the Healthy Gloucester Collaborative and Gloucester Youth Council, as they strive to help others and make an impact on the city with their substance abuse prevention initiatives. The Gloucester Youth Council was awarded chapter of the year for its actions to combat youth substance abuse.

“Being involved in this program has given me the chance to be a better leader and offers me the power to make a change,” said Ellie Martin, a senior at GHS.

“This program has given me a chance to help myself, and my friends,” said Lauren McNair, a senior at GHS. “I’ve been able to to be a role model for my friends and have been able to help them with their problems.”

For those struggling to cope with someone who has an addiction, there is a support group on Wednesdays 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Rose Baker Senior Center.