There is an ongoing war. It’s not in some foreign nation, not one that we read about in the papers, and not one that deals with heinous weapons. It’s in our schools, classrooms, hallways, and backyards. It’s in the bedrooms of teenagers and in the park. It’s everywhere, yet most don’t see it or even have a clue that it is quite so bad. What is this war you ask? It’s a war where teenagers are the victims and the weapons are drugs.
At this point, I bet you’re wondering who I am and how I know about this imbroglio. I’m an average 14-year-old girl who enjoys hanging out with friends and procrastinating when it comes to homework. I’m also the oddball that loves class and actually reads, like, during my free time. I have a sizeable group of friends and we don’t do bad things. Recently, something happened where I was on the frontline of this war and I had to make a choice, the kind that could alter my life forever.
A few weeks ago, after a class, my friends and I decided to hang out in Central Park. A few more classmates came along. We knew these kids, but we were also aware of some of the things they did, so we kept our distance. The sun was setting and it was quickly getting dark. I had an idea as to why they were coming with us, but I wasn’t sure, so I kept quiet and stayed close to my friends. We trekked through the park, finally stopping when we reached that big rock near 59th Street. As we sat down, a handful of the others took things out knowing that no one was going to stop them—items concealed in the secret compartments of book bags and deep within pockets.
My head turned, following the sounds of zippers and velcro. In their hands were vapes (e-cigarettes) and joints (marijuana in rolling papers). They started to get passed around, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Everyone who participated puffed from the same roll, not caring about germs. Then they turned towards me and asked, “Want some?” I shook my head and, one by one, my friends did the same. They laughed at us and murmured things like “Goodie, goodies,” and “Their loss.”
My friends and I got up and ambled away. One last zippy glance over my shoulder and I saw her—the tremendously privileged daughter of billionaires was walking around after dark in her bra. Apparently, she does this often when she gets high. She is just one of the many sad casualties of this war.
Teenagers imagine that doing drugs is cool, and that it’s perfectly okay because their friends do it too. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It has been proven in myriad studies that drugs harm developing brains, lower IQs, and slow down reaction times. This is a full-blown war. From my own experience, I’d say about 60% of teens use marijuana on a regular basis. The push for legalization of this narcotic is telling them that it’s fine; the media is also normalizing it. This is an epidemic, and it must be addressed quickly, before weed spreads its roots too far and an entire generation is lost.