Drug Abuse Essay Example

  • Category: Addiction, Health,
  • Words: 1117 Pages: 5
  • Published: 05 July 2020
  • Copied: 130

Over a long period, the United States has struggled with the issue of teenage drug use and abuse. A drug generally alters the functionality of the brain, resulting in behavior changes besides addiction. Abuse is the excessive use characterized by the urge which is often problematic to control regardless of the harmful effects. The first decision of drug use is usually voluntary, but continued use alters the brain. Exercising self-control becomes a challenge, one cannot resist the urge to use the drug. Many adolescents who use drugs become addicts later in life. Reduction of these numbers at an early age will also reduce the general addiction rates in the country.(Goldberg, 2016).

Some Stats

The types and accessibility of drugs used by teenagers vary. Statistics indicate a downward trend in drug usage and abuse among adolescents. A survey carried out in 2016 shows the lowest levels of illegal drug usage among teenagers ever recorded in almost all regions. The usage of marijuana continues to be a menace being the only drug whose levels is still high. The usage levels have declined from 2001 to 2016 with a variation of 21.6 percent to 14.3 percent respectively among twelfth graders. The usage for tenth graders declined to an all-time level of 9.8 percent in 2016 compared to 1996's 18.4 percent.

The study revealed that there was a shift of perceptions on drug usage. Occasional consumption of drugs is not viewed as a risk as compared to the past, though most do not use them. The survey shows that 31.1 percent of twelfth graders perceive usage of marijuana frequently as harmful as collated to 58.3 percent in 2000. Marijuana usage levels in the States having medical marijuana laws were recorded as 38.3 percent while those without was 33.3 percent. This shows insignificant changes over the last twenty years, surpassing tobacco usage among teens. Tobacco used daily was 4.8 percent compared to marijuana's 6 percent. Alcohol was the greatest abused legal substance among teenagers in the United States. It most likely caused alcoholism and hence rehabilitation. The statistics recorded in 2016 showed a constant decline in alcohol usage from 81.7 percent in 1997 to 61.2 percent in 2016 (Stone et al., 2012).

Teenagers struggle with drug use and abuse over the tough adolescent years. Research reveals trends that most pubescent’s share as they are eager and ready to experiment with almost anything. Peer pressure places them in a vulnerable spot. Figuring what they want results to most indulging in drugs just to be accepted. As shy teens try to discover themselves, they may end up using drugs to boost their social image. Academic pressure characterized by poor grades may cause some to abuse drugs like Adderall not realizing the effects of the continued use. Children to parents who abuse drugs also tend to abuse drugs in their teenage years. Boredom and curiosity also influence on drug abuse.

Pubescent are always looking for new ways of excitement and new experiences. Most feel that they are already adults, hence want to access privileges accessible to adults. They tend to engage in activities such as smoking, drinking, and experiment with hard drugs. The stressor manifests in various signs and symptoms that are different depending on the drug in use. Common signs and symptoms among adolescent drug users are behavior changes, truancy, glazed eyes, new friends, begin lying and irritability. Others include depression, priorities change, lethargy, problems with finances and some may get into crime.

How to Figure Out a Problem

There is no particular factor that can foretell a teenager's chance of using or getting addicted to a drug. The risk is increased by a combination of various factors. The greater the risk factors one has, the higher the probability. They are; Biological factors- About half the number of risk factors for drug abuse are the genes at birth. Hereditary mental disorders in the family lineage increase the chances of a teenager using and abusing the drugs. Environmental factors - The immediate environment like family, living standards and friends to a pubescent will influence their likelihood of drug use and abuse.

The risk factors like Parental guidance, peer pressure, sexual or physical abuse, depression and availability of drugs create an ideal environment for drug use and addiction. Developmental factors- this is a combination of both nature and nurture during a teenager’s crucial development stages increasing the risks. The risks of addiction are high, development of their brains is rapid at this stage mainly in judgment, self-control and decision making hence probably to participate in dangerous behaviors. 

Dr. Ken Winters and Dr. YIfrah Kaminer propose a three-phase plan towards the diagnosis of teenage related drug use and abuse. These are the assessment of drug use, problem severity comprehensive assessment and an integrative treatment plan. The first phase entails drug use and abuse efficient identification and any other related problem, psychosocial maladjustment and psychiatric comorbidity. The evaluation and screening tools used are interviews and self-reports that identify any drug-related problems. The results of these tests influence the direction of the comprehensive assessment measures.

They reveal the extent to which a teenager is involved in drugs, the related problems as well as the treatment requirements. The assessment test will show any abuse of regular drug categories like tobacco, marijuana or alcohol and abuse of any prescribed drugs. The treatment plan, as well as the goals to set, are determined by the comprehensive assessment. Factors that are considered in the assessment are the teenager, willingness to cooperate, the parents, expectations and cognitive variability.

Useful Tools

The clinically useful screening tools are personal experience screening questionnaire and CRAFT (a behavioral screening tool). They predict at a high degree presence of any drug use or abuse, according to research (also defined in DSM-IV). In the comprehensive assessment, Global Appraisal of Individual Needs is used. It measures the teenager's recent life activities in various areas like school or drug use. It produces correlated evidence on problems relating to drugs and hence the development of a treatment plan. The Teen Addiction Severity Index is also used to assess relationships in the family, school status, any chemical use and other issues relevant to pubescent. Finally, a self-administered questionnaire is used to assess the severity of the problem (Stone et al, 2012).

There are different approaches supported by research including, Behavioral Approaches like contingency Management (use of positive reinforcement behavior) and cognitive behavioral Therapy (leaning process helping participants develop managing strategies). Addiction medications- It involves the use of medications to treat addictions like alcohol or opioids in teenagers. Family-Based Approaches that aim at the active involvement of the family towards the treatment of the adolescent.

Despite the decline in figures of drug use and abuse a lot needs to be done to guide teenagers. There is a significant portion that needs more attention and care to avoid the menace. The cooperation of all stakeholders both parents, teenagers and the institutions will see that the rates remain low. The critical issues need to be addressed and further research on the development of better diagnosis and treatment strategies to be established.


Goldberg, J. (2016, October 15). Drug Abuse, Addiction, and the Brain.

Stone, A. L., Becker, L. G., Huber, A. M., & Catalano, R. F. (2012). Review of risk and protective factors of substance use and problem use in emerging adulthood. Addictive behaviors, 37(7), 747-775.



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