Drugs at South: Who's into it, what they use
Newspapers constantly carry stories of teenage drug abuse. Occasionally the news on TV describes a major arrest by the police in their crackdown on the black market drug trade.
With all this attention being focused on the nation's drug crisis, Maine South is facing its own problem. Although the size of the problem cannot be determined, there's no doubt that it does exist.
"We have no way of knowing how many students at South use drugs. We do, however, like any classroom teacher, have our suspicions. The last place a student high on drugs would come to is the health office," said Mrs. Margaret Ingrish, head nurse.
"We have treated some students in the past for drug overdoses, but the number is extremely low," she said. Mrs. Ingrish was willing to estimate, however, that about half of the student body has tried some type of drug. Aside from marijuana, she listed amphetamines as being popular among young people.
Southwords, in an attempt to see what drugs are available to students and how many students have tried drugs, conducted a recent survey.
Although the 86 students interviewed do not summarize the total drug scene, the survey revealed some interesting statistics.
Of the 86 students polled, 45 percent had tried some type of drug. Among the drug users, marijuana was the most widely used. Forty three percent admitted smoking grass. Amphetamines and barbiturates were used by 25 percent of those interviewed.
Hallucinogens such as LSD, mescaline and psilocybin were tried by 18 percent. Other hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine were used by only three percent of those interviewed.
Seventy-five percent of the student said they had been asked to buy some type of drug. Although no definite percentage was obtained, marijuana proved to be the most obtainable drug.
The survey showed that of the 43 students who did not use drugs, over half had friends they thought were using marijuana or other harder drugs.
The statistics show that drugs are readily available to the student body. But the question is, who supplies them?
According to a junior, one student supplies a certain drug. "One kid handles all the mescaline, another all the speed, and another student all the grass. Usually a supplier has a friend who lives in Chicago and can easily obtain stuff," he explained.
The widespread idea that a syndicate member is behind the student supplier is an outdated assumption. Most of the students interviewed said that they get most of their stuff from other students.
"A chain" was how onne student described South's drug situation. "Most kids get stuff from their friends. Their friends get it from kids who are more involved with drugs and have been into them for pretty long. There's always someone who can get what you want," he said.
One ex-user described the drug scene as bad, but added it could be a lot worse. Last year he had friends who were hooked on heroin.
Another student quit the drug scene because of the expense involved. "I don't criticize the dope scene, yet I recognize its impracticality."
The flow of drugs at South is being somewhat controlled with the help of student undercover agents. Narcotics detectives, with the help of certain students, are able to minimize the number of drugs being peddled in the school.
One student who works with the police doesn't think South is as bad as some other schools, but in his opinion the situation could be better.
"We are mainly concerned with apprehending the pusher, not the user," he explained. "This can be difficult because kids get their stuff from anyone."
A bad experience with drugs prompted this student to take up his job as a "drug detective." However, not only is the job hard, but also the pressure from other students. When asked how he feels about the legalization of marijuana, he replied, "I think grass is harmful. There is a way to control the consumption of alcohol, but not the use of marijuana."
Mr. Thomas Higgins, a health teacher, felt that the "why" of drug use should be more heavily emphasized than the number of students using drugs.
Mr. Higgins feels that the drug situation at South isn't quite as bad as at other schools.