Zero Tolerance Policies Encourage Teen Drug Use

Teen Drug UseNew research published in the American Journal of Public Health compared high school drug policies in Washington State to those in Victoria, Australia. While high schools across America take a firm zero-tolerance approach to teen drug use, Australia opts for less extreme approaches. Teen drug users who were caught in Washington schools were twice as likely to have police involved and 50 percent more likely to be expelled. Australian teen drug users received less severe punishment, such as being referred to a counselor.
The research concluded that zero-tolerance drug policies were associated with:

  • 1.6 times increase in likelihood to use marijuana the following year
  • 60 percent increase in drug use during school
  • Disengagement from school
  • Delinquency and anti-social behavior
  • Increased use of cigarettes and alcohol

Teenagers are notorious for rebelling against authority. Even if they have no personal desire to experiment with drugs, the idea that it is forbidden appeals to their desire for freedom and autonomy.

So what can be done to decrease teen drug use?

In order to protect our youth, drug and alcohol use must be prohibited on school campuses. However, requiring teens to not attend school through suspension or expulsion does not actually teach the students anything.

“Drug education motivated by fear and lacking in credibility weakens young people’s confidence in law enforcement, parents, teachers and other adults.” – Marsha Rosenbaum, PhD, director emerita of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance

Teen drug users need to be provided with education, intervention and counseling

Trails Carolina encourages teens toward reform through:

  • Active participation in rules and regulations
  • Education on harmful effects of drugs, emotionally and physically
  • Increasing self-confidence and autonomy
  • Building positive relationships with family and peers
  • Effective coping mechanisms for stress and expressing independence

By using supportive personal, group and family therapy, integrated with wilderness activities, troubled teens transform their attitudes and behaviors. They begin to take responsibility for their decisions and understand how their decisions effect themselves and others.
To learn more about handling teen drug use, call us today at 800-975-7303.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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