Doctor speaks on drugs impacting Tennessee teens in wake of recent drug-related violence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Drugs can pose all kinds of dangers to young people.

Multiple teenagers have recently died following drug-involved shootings in Nashville. Drug use among teens is a nationwide problem.

Data from the National Center for Drug Abuse showed more than 2 million teens reported using drugs in the last month.

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News 2 spoke with Dr. Meg Benningfield, a psychiatrist at Monroe Carrel Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, about the trend here in Tennessee.

“Vaping has trended up; opioids have trended up,” Benningfield said. “Alcohol has trended down actually in the last several years.”

Benningfield said drug use effects mental health and police said this could increase violence.

“Using illicit substances like alcohol or opioids or cannabis impairs kids’ judgement, so they make risky choices,” Benningfield said.

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For example, last Thursday, Feb. 8, investigators said two teens, Takeo Bills and Jalen McAdams, were shot and killed in the parking lot of Meigs Magnet Middle School in East Nashville.

Police arrested 18-year-old Rico Doss Jr. and are looking into drugs as a possible motive.

A witness described to News 2 what he saw and heard.

“I heard a boom and I came outside about 15 minutes later because I was scared,” the witness said. “I found out that two homicides happened right across the street from where I am.”

Doss was actually arrested in connection with a separate shooting that left a 17-year-old dead. Police said that shooting stemmed from a marijuana deal gone wrong.

Doctors said there are warning signs a teen is involved in drug activity.

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“It is very common for kids to start using to deal with anxiety or depression,” Benningfield said.

Teens should reach out to a trusted adult if they need help.

As for prevention, Benningfield said the later in life kids start using drugs or alcohol, the less likely it is to become a problem.

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