Stepping Away from Substance Abuse

The Next-Step club works to combat the issue of substance abuse through educating the youth.


Ann Nunes

Students prepare for their presentation at St. John's Episcopal School as they learn from Deputy Lopez about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

As substance abuse continues to persist in our community, around 46,000 high school and middle school students around the US use alcohol and drugs. From horror stories about drunk driving accidents to deaths of hundreds of teenagers, many are searching for ways to combat this issue.

“I am involved with Next-Step because they came to my middle school in 8th grade and I thought it was such an amazing program. It really taught me about the dangers of drug use and I thought it was a great and I wanted to help spread awareness” said club president, Bella Kumar.

While it may seem like a daunting task considering the magnitude of the problem, the Next Step Club works closely with the Orange County Sheriff’s department to address these problems. Utilizing the “Drug Use is Life Abuse” coalition, club members hope to put an end to underage drinking, vaping, and substance abuse.

The Next-Step Club raises awareness both on an off campus. Club members travel to St. John’s Episcopal school to teach middle school students about the dangers of addictive substances through carefully created presentations.

“I have learned through Next-Step that drug and alcohol use is a much bigger issue than I initially thought. It is becoming more and more of a prevalent issue everyday,” said Kumar.

Both returning and new members alike are constantly learning new ways to educate students and peers about these topics. Whether it’s through social media or paper fliers, members have found that raising awareness is crucial to spreading the word.

“I think the impact that Next-Step is having on St. John’s and other schools is very significant. It helps to teach kids that have seen alcohol and drug use understand how bad it can truly be,” said Kumar.

Along with the presentations, Next-Step Club members share personal experiences that improve their public speaking abilities. Through impactful stories on the effects of alcohol and vaping, students become equipped with crucial knowledge needed before high school.

“I want SM students to know that that Next-Step is an amazing opportunity to learn more about how to help the community,” said Kumar.

Implementing the Drug Use is Life Abuse program across Orange County is a major step towards bringing hope into communities. By understanding that drug and alcohol abuse affects students in both middle and high schools, the Next-Step Club works to create a better tomorrow.