Drug overdoses have been rapidly increasing in the United States. Suicide rates have resulted in the US life expectancy to decrease in 2017. There was 70,237 recorded suicides in the US in 2017, this is almost 6,600 more than in 2016.
Southmoreland has not escaped the wrath of drug use.
“In the 43 years I’ve been a nurse, I’ve talked to a lot of students who have used drugs,” said high school nurse Mrs. Linda Yonkey. “I’ve definitely seen more students using drugs than I would’ve liked to.”
Pennsylvania was the third highest state for drug overdoses in 2017 with 44 drug overdoses every 100,000 people.
“There are so many things that are changing that is increasing the usage of drugs,” said Mrs. Yonkey. “I’ve seen a major increase in mental health issues in this generation, and drugs are so easy to access now. People believe drugs are an easier way to cope with their problems.
“I’ve talked to many people who have been addicted to drugs,” Mrs. Yonkey continued. “They all tell me the same thing. They never thought they’d get addicted, or they never thought it would be a problem. It’s never just a one time thing though; drugs are meant to get you hooked.”
Despite not using drugs herself, an 11th grade student who requested anonymity has had drugs impact her life greatly because her parents have been on drugs most of her life.
“I only talked to my biological dad until I was about 4,” the student said. “After this my mom and I got PFA’s against him and he left, Ever since I’ve lived with my mom and my stepdad until I was 14 years old.
“There was one night that it was just my mom and I home alone, she went upstairs, and a couple minutes later I called for her,” the student continued. “There was no answer so I went up stairs and saw her feet in the doorway. I started screaming, and I tried to wake her up but she wouldn’t. I called 911 and they told me to do CPR, and then I saw the needle sticking out of her arm. I also saw a drawer that was opened and a bunch of pill bottles. The ambulance then came and revived her.”
The student stopped talking to her mother after that, and her step father got full custody of her and her little sister. The student’s mother has tried to get back in contact with her numerous times.
“It’s a constant cycle really. She’ll hurt me, so I’ll stop talking to her for a few months, and then she’ll try to get back in contact with me,” said the student. “She always makes it seem like she’s gotten better, that she’s changed, but she really hasn’t.
Drugs continue to be a problem, and it’s something everyone ends up being affected by in their life, even if they don’t use drugs, just like the student portrayed in this story.
“It’s really hard being a teenage girl and not having a mom to go to and talk to about my problems,” the student said. “But I can’t talk to her anymore for my own personal well being and hers.”
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