Photo Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

NEWS // February 8, 2019

Students Take Action Against High School Substance Abuse

Oscar Talaro, Alcohol and Drug Program Specialist II, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services

Alexa Mendivil, Graduate Student Worker, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, Behavioral Health Services

In December 2018, the University of Michigan reported new results in the National Adolescent Drug Trends for 2018 as part of the Monitoring the Future Survey, an ongoing national study sponsored by the National Institute of Health. The report showed that from 2017 to 2018 there was a large increase in vaping among high school students, the largest year-to-year increase in substance abuse ever recorded in the United States. After learning about this startling statistic, students at Clairemont High School, part of the San Diego Unified School District, decided to take action to help their peers who may be struggling with this type of substance abuse.

Over the course of the Fall 2018 semester, students from Clairemont High’s Academy of Health and Medical Sciences learned how substances such as alcohol, vaping and synthetic, street and prescription drugs can affect people, families and communities. This youth development and knowledge building experience was supported by SAY San Diego, the North Central Prevention Coalition and Clairemont High’s Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.  The students then used this new knowledge to create panel posters to educate and get youth involved in the prevention of substance abuse and to promote healthier lifestyles. In addition to raising awareness about the harmful effects of vaping, the students also showed how binge drinking and drug use negatively impact the entire community and can threaten the safety and overall health of its residents.

Students presented their posters at a Youth-Led Town Hall  on January 22, 2019 to a group of expert panelists that included law enforcement and substance abuse treatment and prevention experts. 



Here is what one high school student had to say about the learning experience: 

“Now, drugs like cocaine can be laced with fentanyl, a very lethal drug that could kill you, even in very small doses. Just knowing that there could be this other drug present - knowing that, you might make a better choice.”

To learn more about the school and its programs, visit: