Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Jack Russell
on March 23, 2021

During the pandemic, Gaggle has observed some concerning student safety trends. Among these trends is a 59% increase in student references to drugs and alcohol during the first three months of the 2020–21 school year.

“Many students use their district-issued account or device while at school to make plans to use and consume drugs and alcohol while on campus,” said Heather Durkac, Gaggle’s Vice President of Operations. “We’re able to help administrators be more aware of the activity that is happening on school grounds.”

March 22 through March 28 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW)—the perfect time to shed light on the proliferation of drug and alcohol abuse among K-12 students. This annual observance was established by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2010 to stimulate community events to teach teens what science has taught them about drug use and addiction. In 2016, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) became a partner, adding alcohol as a focus for the week.

How prevalent are drug, alcohol, and vaping usage among teenagers? A 2020 Center for Disease Control and Prevention report found that 14.8% of high school students had used illicit drugs (defined as cocaine, inhalants, heroin, methamphetamines, hallucinogens, or ecstasy), while 14.3% had misused prescription opioids. According to 2018 NIDA data, 37.3% of 12th graders had vaped within the past 12 months. The same report indicated that 17.5% of 12th graders had consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication within the prior 30 days.

“We see several references to vaping, drugs, and alcohol every day. Many are references to products that have already been obtained, purchased, or stolen with plans to use them,” said Durkac. “Our goal is to help administrators know what is happening with the students and—when necessary—get them help if that is what they need.”

Read more about how you can help drive awareness during NDAFW and beyond by accessing additional helpful resources from NIDA.

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