Recognizing the Need for Substance Abuse Counseling in Schools

It’s no secret that teens are subjected to immense amounts of pressure to succeed in almost every aspect of life. Society places a high value on academic, social, economic, and athletic achievements. Putting teens at a higher risk for abuse, it’s no surprise that our country is in the midst of an ever-evolving substance abuse epidemic. According to SAMHSA, 30.5 million Americans, aged 12 or older, were reported to actively using illicit drugs within the previous month. In other words, roughly 11.2 percent of people aged 12 or older. Approximately 26 million of those teens used marijuana, 3.2 million teens abused prescription pain relievers and 2.2 million teens were reportedly using cocaine.

The goal of a school counselor is to not only help students stay on track academically but in all aspects. Many students turn to school counselors to provide an overall positive direction as well. With the crippling numbers of teen substance abuse on the rise and student safety in question, it is crucial for school counselors to recognize the signs of addiction.

Signs of Teen Substance Abuse

  • Excessive Absences
  • Changes in Hygiene
  • Paranoia
  • Fatigue
  • Inconsistent Grades
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Glossy Eyes
  • Hopelessness
  • Mood Swings
  • Isolation

School counselors have a huge impact on substance abuse education, prevention, and treatment, and providing a safe space for struggling students. Counselors can improve protective by encouraging academic success, teaching self-esteem improvement skills, healthy living skills, improving family communication/dynamics, and connecting at-risk teens with peer leadership and prevention groups.

There have been impressive successes directly attributed to the implementation of substance abuse counseling in schools. For example, the School District of Escanaba, Michigan saw a dramatic decrease in monthly drinking averages from 17% to 7% over the span of seven years. Incorporating substance prevention campaigns, parent involvement, and open communication, there was a major shift in the district. As the need for substance abuse counseling increases, it is important to make way for education and provide resources to students. For more information on teen substance abuse please feel free to look at this comprehensive guide.