Study: 17% of Teens Abuse Substances at School

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, August 22 2012 at 6:20 PM, Updated: Wed, August 22 2012 at 7:17 PM

High schoolers Josi Sherman and Brielle Bushman say drugs, drinking and smoking are common at school.

"When they come into class, you can just smell pot," said high school Junior Brielle Bushman.

A new study conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that 17% of high schoolers (roughly 2.8 million of them) get drunk or high during the school day.

High school Senior Josi Sherman said she's not surprised to hear the statistic.

"There's so many kids that do it," she said.

When asked what percent of her peers have brought alcohol or drugs to school...

"75 [percent]," she said.

"It's rare not to know someone who hasn't done it."

High schoolers said it's not uncommon for kids to use a water bottle when bringing alcohol to school.

"It's pretty easy, they just bring it in. They sneak it in their bags and lockers," said Sherman.

The growing problem is also spreading to youngsters in middle school.

"Marijuana and sometimes alcohol [...] Sometimes I can smell it from the girls bathroom and sometimes from the boys," said 13-year-old middle schooler Heidi Marie Tyler.

"It's very scary and it's dangerous and little kids don't really know what they're getting into," said Sherman.

For Josi Sherman and her friend Brielle Bushman...the choice is simple.

"The friends I hang out with, just staying away from it I guess," said Bushman.

"I would never think about it. I have too much going for me," Sherman said.

Many of their fellow high schoolers across the nation aren't making the same decision.

Area school officials said they use campus officers to monitor students' behavior. Some students said they've seen drug dogs sniffing out potential illegal substances.

The study also found a 50-percent increase over the past year in drug-infected private high schools.

To read the study, click here for the PDF.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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