A recent university study on the use of drugs in Colombia’s schools, says that consumption of various types of drugs is very prevalent among the country’s young students, reported local media on Wednesday.
The National Study of Consumption of Psychoactive Substances in the Schooling Population in Colombia, carried out by Colombia’s National University, warned that consuming drugs at a young age can have serious health repercussions.
Focusing on children in high school and younger, the study found that 24.3% of the surveyed students had smoked a cigarette in their life and that 10% continue to consume the legal drug. Additionally 17.4% of those that continue to smoke are between the ages of 16-18.
Furthermore, the study showed that two thirds of Colombia’s youth have had an alcoholic drink. The legal drinking age in Colombia is 18.
With regard to illegal drugs, marijuana proved to be consumed the most, with 7% consumption amongst school children. Students in the 11th grade were the most prevalent users.
Cocaine was consumed by 2.8% of surveyed youth and ecstasy enjoyed just 0.8% consumption.
MORE: Drug use high among Colombian students: Report
Miguel Cote, director of the Department of Psychiatry of the National University, noted that drug use can have serious effects on the adolescent body. Cote mentioned that nicotine is particularly addictive when used at an early age, and that while addiction is not necessarily the main problem with other drugs used in youth, cardiovascular issues and brain damage are huge risks when consuming alcohol or cocaine. The professor mentioned the large risk of heart attack specifically.
Cote also pointed at social media as having a lot to do with the increase in drug use, saying that the internet has made acquiring drugs much easier, according to El Espectador newspaper.
The psychiatric director did say that this was a “worldwide trend” noting that the United Nations released a report saying that psychedelic drug use went up 50% from 2009 to 2012.