Sunday, October 18, 2009

Drugs & Alcohol - Do local schools have a problem?

Does MDUSD have a problem with drugs and alcohol ON campus? Does it seem the drug and alcohol problem is worse in any one particular high school than another? I received an email recently, and it quite simply was very disturbing. But I think it needs to be talked about, and I want to hear from YOU! Is this an ongoing problem being swept under the rug? Is it the problem of just a particular school, or many? I've left the name of the high school out as I fear this will get into a clash of "who's better than who" or elicit specific criticisms of certain groups of kids, towns or other irrelevant issues.

More to the point, I want to address the problem overall, as it appears to be a serious problem and I'm not sure what is being done about it.

". . . parents have no clue what they’re getting themselves into at (certain) HS. I feel that there should be a “wake-up call” meeting to alert and prepare parents in a very realistic way. There is a TON of drug and alcohol use outside of and during school. Its more than what I could’ve imagined. The school doesn’t seem to be hard enough on the kids. There’s very low school spirit and it’s seen as “nerdy” if you don’t drink or smoke. Maybe I’m being biased because my child goes there, but I’ve talked to other parents and its not like that in other schools. Most of us are totally blind to it, really. I know I was. Oh, and did you know that there’s no smell when they drink Vodka?"


"There are always fights and I’m telling you.. kids are popping pills IN class, stoned during school, and drinking – some kids come to school with vodka in their backpacks! Ecstasy is the big thing right now. I don’t know… I feel like my blinders have been taken off and in talking to other parents, they’re experiencing a lot of the same stuff."

So, is it worse over the last few years, than in years past?

Are drugs and alcohol issues LESS prominent in some schools than others, or are they actually used less by students of some schools? How about in the schools known for more of a college track? This parent continued,

"At the (other local schools) high-achiever/popular type kids aren’t the ones coming to school buzzed/high… it’s the losers or the kids in the “middle”, but at (this school) EVERYONE does it… it’s the popular, high achiever kids that think it’s cool and they can function high and its looked down upon if you don’t do that…. "

So, I turn to google:

In the Clayton Pioneer dating back to 2006, drugs were mentioned by the Student Reporter: A Hyphy Movement 'Thizzing, or using the drug Ecstasy, is popular within they Hyphy culture.'

Earlier this year, another Clayton Valley High student, as Student Reporter for the Pioneer, wrote in her article, "Ecstasy is New Epidemic..." . The article sparked outrage from many sectors, fellow students, parents and educators alike. But is it really new? Clearly not when it was mentioned 3 years ago related to the same Clayton Valley High School.

And as I said, not to focus on just one school, and so you don't think it's just Clayton Valley, we found an article chronicling the recovery of "Sam," a Walnut Creek teen's road from meth. During this multi part series, it asked where Sam got her drugs:

During the nine months of turmoil, Sam never had any problems getting meth. It was cheap - the going rate for one night's worth for two was $40 - if she had to pay at all. Sam says friends at Northgate High School often just gave it to her.

"It's everywhere," she says. "You can't escape from it."

In a recent Times article, this article profiles a former, now recovering, DLS athlete / student who came back to visit De La Salle in hopes that his story will keep the students on right path:

A 1988 graduate of De La Salle and the baseball team's MVP as a senior, Curran has traveled a different and much more dangerous road than many of the athletes who have attended the school — a harrowing 20-year journey to the depths of nowhere and back.

Curran became an alcoholic. Heavy beer consumption began while he was at De La Salle.

In doing a simple google Internet search I found dozens of references of local drug and alcohol use among local teens, and at teen parties. This article from 2008 notes:

"Most high school parties in Martinez feature booze, weed, Ecstasy and acid," one Alhambra High senior said. Just some parties?

"No, most of them," said Greg Kearney, an 18-year-old Alhambra High School senior.
"Parents don't really know about them. When parents go out of town is when they usually happen," he said.

Of course we know of the tragedy in Orinda. Joseph Loudon (a Miramonte HS student) died during an unsupervised teen party, and in this article originally in the Oakland Tribune in 2007, it is noted that:

Correlating state Healthy Kids Survey results for school districts in Alameda and Contra Costa counties with data on free lunches that indicates relative levels of wealth in school districts, reveals youthful substance abuse is more common in the East Bay's richer areas.

More-affluent districts generally had higher rates of juniors who admitted to binge drinking or consumed alcohol within 30 days of the survey. They also had higher rates of juniors who admitted having been high from drugs.

Parents in the Lamorinda area united in 2006 after an out of control New Years eve party in Moraga. This was profiled in Diablo Magazine, Teenage Wasteland.

The parent who originally sent this information to me asked, are we , as parents, sticking our heads in the sand? Are we ignoring what is under our nose? What to do?

What is being done? Anything? Are school administrators ignoring the problems? Are parents? Are all schools facing these issues? Please be honest. As parents, we need to create solutions and not create divides by thinking this does not happen to your school, or in your community, because it does.


For more information:
Tonight, Sunday, October 18th, Nick News with Linda Ellerbee will be airing "Rehab, a sobering look at kids and addiction." The show will air on Nick at 8pm Pacific time. See more at This is a show aimed at kids. So, watch it with them. It may be "too young" for the group we're talking about here (high school), but it's never too early to start talking about it. Believe me, if you've got middle school students or older, they've heard it before.


  1. Drugs and alcohol aren't all of it. Many high schoolers in MDUSD and eslewhere have tested positive for HIV. Healthcare professionals who have access to charts are clearly aware of this information. What can be done? And these youth are so lost.

  2. Just look at the facebook pages of any number of the local high school kids. THey freely admit under activities "smoking weed" among other things... and these are "good" kids... not the one's some would "expect."

  3. Am I one of the parents who has their blinders on? With two kids here in a local high school, I do not see this type of behavior with them or with either of their circle of friends. The kids are high achievers and athletes and are concerned about their grades and their school. School spirit is high and they are really into the whole high school scene - spririt days, dances etc... To try to fix this problem, we really should nail down and identify where this excess drug/alcohol use is occuring.

  4. 8:43, you might be. I can be this mom is talking about Clayton Valley. Drugs is an epidemic there, and I was just wondering the other day if other schools have this issue.

  5. I wonder if this parent feels like "everyone" is doing it because her kid is doing it and therefore it feels like everyone is? I have a son is 10th grade at a local school and I would say he and his friends seem pretty clueless about that kind of stuff. I mean, I'm sure they've seen it or heard it but I've seen no evidence that "everyone " is doing it.

  6. My daughter graduated from a MDUSD high school last year and is now attending a UC.

    She told me last year that she smokes pot occasionally with her friends, but does not drink. I know this to be true.

    Parents, when your kids go to a party, what do you think they are doing? Playing Twister?

    I know from my own teen experience 30 years ago that things have not changed much. Parents are away, and kids have a party. Someone brings alcohol and other drugs and there is no one there to monitor things.

    My daughter may smoke pot, but she had a very small circle of friends and did not go to the big parties. She did some stupid things as a teen, but thankfully, nothing that changed her future.

    Parents don't assume that because your kids are going to a party with the athletic popular kids that the party is going to be wholesome.

    Even thirty years ago, I was a student athlete and big partier. My parents thought my friends were great--and they were, they just did too many drugs.

  7. My kids are still young, but as a high school student, class of 85, I was completely clueless about drugs on campus. Apparently they were available if you wanted them, I just never did, I am too much of a control freak to lose control on drugs.

    I am a firm believer that no parent can state 100% that their kids aren't doing this stuff. What also scares me is the early sexual promiscuity going on.

    I wish we could really allow our teachers to teach kids the reality of sex, not the ridiculous "abstinence" crap.

    As parents, all we can do is watch, listen, and get to know your children's friends, and their parents as well.

  8. Maybe growing up in the 70's has some advantages. they're playing twister alright, but probally drunk & stoned. anyone that knows anything should be able to figure out whats going on, and yes, look at the facebook pages, not to mention your childs behavior!

  9. I wish we could really allow our teachers to teach kids the reality of sex, not the ridiculous "abstinence" crap."

    When is the last time you sat down and talked to your kids about the reality of sex? Why does it have to be the schools job?

    If you are a parent then you should be teaching your children about sex, drugs, and Alcohol. That is the problem these days too many parents want the schools to do the parenting for them. I talk about these subjects regularly and openly with my teenagers. A good place to start is do a Google search for talking to teens about Sec. one website that I like is,
    chances are if you have not already been actively teaching your kids about your values towards sex they are probably already having sex on their own.

    Don't rely on the school to raise your kids for you.

  10. "nothing that changed her future" just means that she didn't get caught and doesn't have a criminal record for possession. It could easily have been different for her.

    I'm sincerely glad your daughter is doing well, and I hope that she will stop risking her future, because as long as she is smoking pot, she could get busted. Best wishes.

  11. Abstinence is not "ridiculous crap." It may be very unrealistic, but it isn't crap.

    The fact is, that abstinence is still the only way to guarantee that you won't get STDs or pregnant.

    So yes, I agree that so-called "safe sex" SHOULD be taught, but I think that kids need to hear from adults that "safe sex" is never fail-proof and it can still lead to serious problems in one's life.

  12. I believe that it is a part of an even larger problem that is pervasive among the young - a general lack of caring about establishment and policy. The work ethic is not high and the older generation has done little to bridge the gap. In many ways it is as large a gap as in the 60's, although it appears to be a lot darker - you never hear people blathering on about "love" anymore, no flowers in their hair. Now it is darker, rap, negative music - even the happy tunes sound like they all want to off themselves with repetitive despondent harmonies. But then look at the state of life - recession, jobless, corruption, greed, crime - not too much for them to feel optimistic about.

  13. We recently had a couple of girls caught with beer on campus at Foothill Middle, so I hate to tell you it starts early. Foothill has had marijuana brought to school and more than its share of fights this year. I honestly really don't remember it like this when I was their age. And I'm class of '86.

  14. I wish schools would report in on how their homecomings and first games went. Any issues with alcohol? drugs? fights? I heard on another blog someone was busted at a local homecoming with alcohol... where? Are these kids just turned into their parents or police? And my god, what about that gang rape in Richmond... how could the parents , chaperones and security NOT patrol the nearby campus if kids are going in and out. 2-1/2 hours of torture for that girl, people watching, no one reported? ALL ON SCHOOL CAMPUS at a school sponsored event? Is MDUSD watching this to assure nothing like this can happen here?

  15. YV Highs Homecoming dance was great! No problems or issues. This is pretty common for YV! Still the best kept secret out there, Go Warriors!

  16. I guess i should've realized that people not be honest. :) Of course your school is just the greatest and no problems ever. I see the kids walking to and from your school.. they are angels.. pure angels from heaven... all of them.

  17. Anon 2:43

    I never said there were no problems at YV. YV has been and is a great school for our students, the older one's who graduated from YV are in College and working, successfully. Our last one will graduate in a few years and is very happy at YV and has many good friends.

    But there were no problems at Homecoming, no drugs, no one removed for alcohol, no fights, nothing. YV is really cracking down on tardies, disruption, behavior, etc. and it shows. All schools need to do this.

    Why judge on the few you see walking? If you have teens, you know they dress a certain way hoping for someone like you to notice them. It is just clothing... Besides most dress appropriately, it is only a few that dress for shock value.

    Come visit YV, meet with the Principal, attend meetings, talk to the administrators, teacher's and students. I think you would have a nice surprise, it would open up your mind. Yes there are the problem students, but it would shock you as they are not the ones you are thinking about that cause the problems. I have worked in all the high schools and am very happy with YV.

  18. Oh, the funniest thing about 2 weeks ago. De La Salle was out early, maybe one of those religious days. A group of young men were walking down Treat in their khaki pants pulled below their bottoms, wearing green underwear and all had their DLS shirts pulled up. Wow... I guess if we are going to judge a school on dress, then DLS just failed, looked like thugs in all DLS gear! I wish I had my camera out and ready :)