Drug Use in Swimmers

Swimmers is one of the only books that covered the issue of drug abuse in the high school setting. I found that I connected with this book on a personal level because it dealt with descriptions of drugs and parties at the high school age. I went to a Catholic high school that only covered classic literature in our English classes. Books such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, and The Catcher and the Rye by J. D. Salinger were the ones we covered in class. Although The Catcher and the Rye deals with issues like alcoholism, the drug culture was much more apparent in my high school. I believe that young adults today should have the opportunity to read books like Swimmers which deals with drugs in an unromanticised way and also shows the consequences of addiction.

I watched a documentary called Meth Nation on discovery channel recently that showed many small towns in the United States that are affected by young meth users. In the documentary the high schoolers that were interviewed claimed it was easier to find drugs then it was to get alcohol. This is concept reminded me off the drug dealer Josh in the book. Josh carried around drugs at school in a mint case, which made the drugs easily accessible so that the characters could get high in class. I believe that this is common problem that could be found throughout high schools in every city or town. I also think that by reading books that cover drug problems in high schools could help students make educated choices before they experiment with drugs.

In this day and age the rave culture has emerged as popular event for people of all ages to attend. Many raves are open to underage kids and give out wrist bands to those who are over the age of 18 and able to purchase alcohol. This creates an environment where finding drugs is easier than finding a fake ID that will allow the younger raver to drink. Young adults are constantly struggling with fitting in with their friends which could bring up situations of peer pressure when drugs are involved. Adults can teach kids that peer pressure is wrong and you should keep to your convictions, but when it comes down to it high school aged children want to fit in. The book Swimmers, while it doesn’t deal with rave culture, it does depict party atmospheres where Hunter and his friends use drugs, drink and engage in promiscuity. I think that any adult reading this book would be able to relate to the party scene. Your friend’s parents are out of town and so that’s where the party is on the weekend. Swimmers is able to depict a realistic view of high school without making the drinking, partying and drug use look cool. I think that Swimmers would be a great book for a high school English class to read because of this.

In class we have discussed the argument against only classic literature for the young adults in school. I think that studying the classics such as Shakespeare and Mary Shelly is important for English classes in high school because it allows them to interact with work from different times. The problems faced in the classics are still prevalent today, but I believe new problems have emerged for high school student in this day and age. That is why I think that integrating texts such as Swimmers would allow students to relate to the characters on a deeper level. Swimmers does a great job of showing the consequences of drug abuse in a modern day high school. In high school one of my friends over dosed and was then sent to rehab. Although he was not in a coma like Niall it had a lasting effect on many students. I believe that using books in high schools that show the consequences of drug abuse could help other students deal with these issues. It may not stop students from experimenting but it will at least show the consequences.

– DJS

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