Teenagers are passing through the phase of life in which they try and experiment with different things, activities and substances. These experiments, unfortunately, lead towards substance or drug abuse and addiction. This lead towards array of problems in teenagers which include educational difficulties, problems related to physical and mental health, poor relationships with family and peers, and involvement in illegal activities which are against the legal system. This also in turn place negative effects on the family, community and on the society as a whole.
Statistics verify that the problem of substance abuse is increasing day by day among the teenagers. In addition to cocaine and other ecstasy drugs, which are used by teenagers to seek pleasure, the other most abused drugs are marijuana (31.5%), Vicodin (9.7%), amphetamines (8.1%), cough medicine (6.9%), sedatives & tranquilizers (6.6% each) ( Staff, 2009). If effective and proper treatment is not provided, it can lead towards serious consequences in young age and they move well into adulthood as well.
Effects of Drug abuse on teenagers
The drug abuse at the age of teen can cause serious health and negative consequences. Young people who get addicted to drugs at teenage are more likely to struggle with the problem of addiction and relapse in later ages. In severe cases, it can cause permanent and irreversible damage to the brain.
The effects of the substance abuse on teenagers are discussed below;
· Effects on education: Substance abuse among teenagers significantly place negative effects on the academics of teenagers. It became a cause of declining grades, absenteeism from school and extra circular activities and increased rate of school drop outs. According to the research findings of Bureau of Justice Statistics (1992) the substance abuse cases cognitive and behavioral problems among youth and these problems interferes with their academic performance and also become a cause of problem in learning for their other classmates.
· Effects on physical health: The health related problems and consequences of substance abuse among teenagers include injuries, accidents, physical impairments and disabilities and possible consequences of drug over doses. Teenagers who are involved in alcohol and other substance abuse are increasingly more vulnerable to commit suicide, homicide, illnesses and accidents. A report of The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) on the hospitals throughout U.S. shows that the visits of the youth in emergency department which were related to the substance abuse of marijuana/hashish between the ages of 12 to 17 increased to 50 % during the years 1993 and 1994 (McCaig, 1995). In addition to this, many of the teenagers after taking drugs involves in unsafe sexual activities. This places them at greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or other such sex related diseases.
Though there has been a decline in the alcohol related fatalities among teenagers in the past few years, but still there are some percentage of young people are overrepresented. According to the report of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (1997) almost 2000 young people between the ages of 15 to 20 were killed in 1995 due to alcohol related car accidents.
· Effects on mental health: Substance abuse places adverse effects on the mental health of teenagers. It can cause problems of depression, developmental problems, apathy, with drawl from reality and other types of psycho social functioning problems. The teenagers who are involved in substance abuse are more vulnerable to other mental disorders and personality problems such as personality disorders, conduct disorders, depression, suicidal ideation and committing suicidal attempts. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1992) shows that use of Marijuana significantly interferes with the short-term memory, learning and psychomotor skills among the teenagers. It also effects motivation, psycho sexual and emotional development of teenagers.
· Problems in peer relationship: The teenagers who substance abuse is often isolated and left out by their peers. Teenagers, who take up alcohol and other drugs, isolate themselves from their peer group and other classmates. They disengage themselves from school, often bunk school. They cut themselves from the activities of the community. They actually deprive the community and the society of the positive role which they might have played otherwise.
· Effect on family relationship: Beside personal loses, the teenagers who take drugs also suffer crisis in their family life. In severe circumstances, it may lead towards dysfunction of the family unit. Dug and substance abuse adversely effects the siblings and parents relationship with the teenage abuser (Nowinski,1990). It can even drain the family emotionally, psychologically and financially.
· Social and economic effects: The substance abuse hold high social and economic costs. The teenager who suffer drug addiction and their families suffer highly negative financial crisis and distress, increase in the burden on the family due to the drug abuser who is not able to become self- supporting and increased demand for the medical and other treatments for the drug abuser (Gropper,1985).
· Delinquency: There exists a very strong positive correlation between the substance abuse and delinquency. Teenagers who abuse drugs are most likely to involve in illegal activities. It often bring the problems in school and family life, association with negative and bad peer group, a lack of social control and physical or social abuse (Hawkins et al., 1987; Wilson and Howell, 1993). Substance abuse among teenagers leads towards the formation of gangs, drug trafficking, prostitution and other illegal activities. A study conducted National Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE)(1997) showed a strong high and positive relation between the crimes committed by young adolescents and their use of drugs and other related substances. Teenagers who take drugs involve more frequently in fighting, stealing and other types of delinquent behaviors.
Substance or drug abuse has serious negative consequences among teenagers. It affects the overall physical, psychological and mental health of the young people. In addition it also place significant negative effects on the social, economic, family and community life of the teenager. It is a cause of serious accidents, injuries and death among teenagers. It is also one of the most significant causes of delinquency among teenagers. Therefore, it needs to be monitored and controlled to save the teenagers from life long impairments.