The issue of increasing drug and alcohol abuse among youngsters has become a major social and health concern that merits closer attention and demands significant thrust and efforts by parents, teachers and government.
The problem of drug and alcohol abuse takes especially severe implications in case of youngsters due to their greater vulnerability in becoming confirmed addicts of these substances ( Langfield, MacIntyre and Turner, 2006).
Statistics from Office of national drug control policy point out that over half the students in USA over half the students in USA try out at least one illegal drug before passing out high school, and around two third of them have at least drunk once (Fact Sheets). It’s also reported that use of illicit drugs and alcohol among American youngsters is highest in the industrialized world (Haier, Maddi and Wadhwa, 1996).
The problem of drug and alcohol abuse
Drug and substance abuse has the potential to disfigure and destroy the entire life of the youths who chance to fall in its trap. The issue assumes serious proportions in the face of the rising trend among youngsters, more alarmingly, in the school-goers, towards the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs that is all time high since 1970s (Profile, 2007).
Further, the research has established that for a majority of youngsters, the initial use of tobacco and alcohol leads to the later use of drugs like cocaine and marijuana (Milhorn Jr).
The major types of drugs used are cocaine, marijuana, crack, and amphetamine, taken orally, inhaled or used through syringe. The drugs abuse creates a whole set of medical, social, and psychological problems for the youngsters that adversely affect their normal development and growth path while creating an equally traumatic experience for their parents and peers.
The persistent use of drugs and alcohol cause depression, moods swings, sudden volatile behavior, seizures, lack in concentration, lack in coordinated speech and behavior, stupor and increased suicidal tendency in the adolescents (Fact Sheets).
Other problems related to drug and alcohol abuse are disrupted family life, self isolation and seclusion, disruption in functioning of central nervous system, and renal and hepatic failures (Haier, Maddi and Wadhwa, 1996).
Causes of substance abuse
Adolescents turn towards drugs and alcohol due to a number of reasons that include disturbed family background, history of substance abuse in the family, pressures from peers and friends, as a reflection of prevailing social trends and some times just for experimentation purpose (Prichard and Payne, 2005). The following are the main causes of substance abuse among youngsters
Individual factors: Broadly categorized as individual and personality factors, such as individual mindset, intellect problems, and especially psychological disorder or formation of early complexes in youngsters that drive them drugs, for its allegedly liberating and relaxing effects (Plant and Plant, 1994).
Environmental Factors: The social-economic-cultural factor also plays very important part in determining the profile as well as magnitude of the drug users (Plant and Plant, 2004). Poverty and social deprivation is a big pushover for the drug abuse, and a majority of the adolescents and youngsters in the socially deprived classes turn to drugs abuse since very early phase.
Dangers of substance abuse
Substance abuse is at the root of majority of problems faced by society. From causing personality destruction to social jeopardy, it damages the very values and principles on which a balanced society exists. Adolescents addicted to substance abuse may suffer from complete disorientation, mental disorder, lack of concentration, aloofness, rejection and increase in suicidal tendency (Milhorn Jr, 1994).
A major risk associated with use of drugs and alcohol is that they have a strong correlation with juvenile crime incidents. Various studies and researches have brought forth the fact that a majority of juvenile offenders have been found dependent on drugs and alcohol in their earlier age ( Prichard and Payne, 2005).
Early use of drugs is frequently accompanied by premature sexual activity, that in the absence of adequate knowledge contains dangers of increasing instances of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. Many drug abusers also practice sharing of injections which further enhances these threats
Prevention and Remedy
Prevention of youngsters from substance abuse demands a comprehensive strategy both on the part of the government as well as society. While the government can enact laws and institute policies banning the sale and use of selective drugs that it deem dangerous to youngsters, the onus of the ensuring the successful implementation of these policies, along with providing care and treatment to the addicts rests with health workers.