Drug Use in School May Signal Even Worse Troubles

Don't get mad if your child is caught doing drugs in school.  A new study has found that teens caught drinking or using marijuana at school should be screened for exposure to trauma, mental health problems and other serious health risks, according to newswise.com.

It may be a cry for help.

UCLA researchers found that the use of substances at school was associated with significantly increased odds of serious problems such as depression, being the victim of intimate-partner violence and attempting suicide, the Web site reports.

"At-school substance use is not just an isolated event requiring simple disciplinary action but an important signal identifying teens in need of urgent psychosocial assessment and support," said lead author Dr. Rebecca N. Dudovitz, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute, at newswise.com.

In the study, students who reported using either alcohol or marijuana on campus had a 64 percent chance of having been in a car with an intoxicated driver; a 46 percent chance of having symptoms of depression; a 25 percent chance of having experienced intimate-partner violence and; a 25 percent chance of having attempted suicide.
"These represent a considerable history of, and ongoing risk for, immediate harm that might not otherwise come to the attention of a parent or school official," Dudovitz said. "When a student is found using substances at school, we should think of it as a sign that a child needs help."
"Given the strong association of at-school substance use with some very serious and dangerous health risks, like having experienced sexual trauma and attempting suicide, we should not dismiss at-school substance use as just another school infraction. Instead, it may be a truly urgent call for caring adults to get involved and help that student access appropriate services."


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