Purpose of Study
The global trend of drug abuse has continued to rise. This is despite the enormous efforts being put forward by governments and international agencies such as United Nations to curb this vice. This makes drugs as a topic of research. This research paper will explore drug use among school youths and non-students youths. It will look at factors contributing to the increased use of drugs among the youths, mitigation measures that can be established to reduce or alleviate drug use in the society and offer recommendations.
The target audience of this research paper is both the school youths and non-student youths. The reason this topic will be discussed is because many youths both in school and in the streets end up living a miserable life as a result of indulging in drug abuse. They end up living hopeless lives while they had a chance of molding their lives to be successful in the future.
Drug use among the youths is a health problem and also a development issue. Many youths who are supposed to be the future leaders are ending up being beggars. It is thus necessary to identify the underlying factors that are making the youths more vulnerable to drug abuse.
More youths are engaging in drug and substance abuse in the United States of America.
Discussion and Findings
Today, the problem of drug and substance abuse among the youth is serious and severe problem not only in America, but also in the entire world. The statistics shows that unacceptable number of youths are drinking and taking hard drugs. It is even worrying, because a large number of youth has started abusing drugs (Karch, 2007). An estimated twenty two million American youth are drug and substance use addicts. According to the recent reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 8,3% of the total population from age twelve and above is currently addicted to illicit drug use. Approximately, 13 million youths take parts in binge drinking while 15,9 million are heavy drinkers (Karch, 2007). The problem of drug and substance abuse is even worse among the non-school going youth. Since of the extended exposure periods with the risk factors that are common in the society.
Drug and substance abuse among the youth is serious public health issues in America. It costs the nation an approximately $151.4 billion dollars annually (Getzen, 2010). Drug and substance abuse include the use of banned drugs and substances such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and other street drugs. Misuse of over-the-counter medications and prescriptions is also regarded as a drug abuse. The drug and substance abuse among the youth remains unacceptable high and is linked with risky sexual behavior, academic failure and involvement with the unlawful actions (Karch, 2007).
According to the reports from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 30% of the high school seniors were reported to have been driving while under drugs influence in 2006 (Czechowicz, 2007). More than 24% of youth aged fifteen to seventeen years, and 31% of youths aged eighteen to twenty four years reported having engaged in more sexual activity than planned (Gropper, 2008). This was attributed to drug and substance abuse. 12% of youth aged fifteen to seventeen years and 25% of those aged eighteen to twenty four reported having unprotected sex due to the influence of alcohol. Other studies have found that youths who use drugs are usually more probable to drop out of the education system (Gropper, 2008). It has also been found that the students who abuses drugs are usually more likely to get in trouble with the law. Approximately 60 to 90% of the teenagers who are convicted in the juvenile courts, normally, have problems with drug and substance abuse. About 78% of the youth in between the 9th and 12th grade reported having used drugs and other substances in order to deal with school pressure and stress (Gropper, 2008).
Types of Drug Abused
There are various types of drugs that are commonly abused by youths. These drug ranges from the less expensive common drugs such as an alcohol and cigarettes to those that costly and more harmful such as heroin and cocaine (Cervantes, 2002).
Cigarettes. These are drugs that are easily accessible by most youth. They are categorized as drugs, because they contain nicotine, which produces psychological and physical effects to the body. Cigarettes are addictive and cause lung disorders such as lung cancer.
Alcohol. This includes beer, wines and spirits. They are categorized as drugs, because of their chemical contents and the fact that they have potential to lead to addiction (Espejo, 2009). Alcohol produces toxic and sedative effects to the body of the user, and it usually available to the youth without prescription. Alcohol is central nervous system depressants and its use results to a number of behavior changes.
Marijuana. It contains tetrahydrocannabinol that produces hallucinogenic stimulant to the user. It is easily available to the youth locally.
Caffeine. Abuse of caffeine among the youths occurs through excessive chewing of concentrated nuts and cola-nuts. It is also a common ingredient in bottled drinks and beverages that are commonly used by youths.
Cocaine. This is one of the common drug abuses by youth. It is derived from the leaves of the coca plant that grows in the highlands of South America. Illicit cocaine is distributed in the form of crystalline white powder (Espejo, 2009). Therefore, youth administers cocaine through the nasal passage or though snorting. It is famous among the youth due to its sedative effect.
Heroine. It usually synthesized from morphine, its color varies from dark brown to white. Moreover, heroine is considered to be three times more potent than morphine.
Hydrocarbon. This includes a wide-range of chemicals that produces depressive action to the central nervous system. They include glue, cleaning solutions, gasoline, nail polish removers, petroleum and natural gas among others. These chemicals are often used by youths from low socioeconomic background, who cannot afford hard drugs due to their expensive nature (Espejo, 2009).
There are numerous risk factors that expose youth to drugs. These factors include availability of drugs in the community, learning disabilities and other academic problems such as pressure and stress, low neighborhood attachment and community disorganization, low socioeconomic and association with peers who engage in problem behaviors among others (Czechowicz, 2007). The risk of youth involvement to drug and substance abuse increases due to low neighborhood attachment. This is characterized by the existence of exceptionally little connection between resident hence few community norms exists regarding the issues such as drug and substance abuse among youth. Furthermore, drug and substance use among the youth is usually more prevalent under conditions of economic and social deprivation. Low socioeconomic status increases the probability of occurrence of other risks factors that pre-dispose use of drugs (Czechowicz, 2007).
Youth also engages in drug and substance abuse due to the lack of meaningful roles especially as they mature. Youth normally desires new privileges, rights and responsibilities, many of which are normally reserved for adults. In most contemporary society in the United States of America, youths are given limited opportunities to participate in legitimate community and government roles (Aue, 2006). This makes youth to seek other symbols of adulthood such as sexuality and alcohol use, which many youths belief to be the only symbol of adulthood available for youth. Exposure of youth to alcoholism introduces youths to the use of other hard drugs thus end up becoming addicts. Early identification of these factors is critical to the prevention and intervention of substance abuse problem and delinquency (Aue, 2006). However, today most youth who engage in drug and substance abuse are not identified as being involved with substance abuse until the problem progress to abuse and dependency.
In 2006, the frequency of alcohol and marijuana use as well as other drugs escalated, the number of youths entering the treatment and rehabilitation system also increased by more than 50%. Despite the increase, this percentage only represented a few section of youth seeking treatment (Uchida, 2008). Whilst it very clears that most drug and substance youth normally have a unique challenge to accessibility of the health care. Most youth substance abuse usually tends to be characterized by bingeing and opportunistic use. Drug and substance use begin at the age of twelve to thirteen years, and the use is rarely limited to the alcohol. The progression normally moves from the use of legal substances to the use of the illegal drugs, with marijuana being the common initial illegal substance to be used by youths (Uchida, 2008). Since numerous reports shows tobacco and alcohol as the most often initial drugs of choice for many youth, it is crucial to note the high correlation between alcohol and cigarette smoking with illicit drug and substance use.
Effects of Drug and Substance Use on Youth
Drug and substance use at any age causes serious health effects, but youths are normally at a specific risk for negative consequences. Youths who abuses drugs are usually at a high risk of struggling with addiction problems later in their life. In addition, youth develops permanent and irreparable damage to the brain as a result of drug and substance use (Uchida, 2008). Some of the common effects include the following:
Emotional problems. Drug and substance abuse cause emotional problems such as mood swings, depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and schizophrenia. 34% of youths with significant depression problems reported having used one or more drugs (Uchida, 2008). For instance, youths who use marijuana are usually more prone to anxiety and depression.
Behavioral problems. Drug and substance use among the youth increases the risk of suicidal thoughts, violence and social problems (Stewart, 2002). Survey from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that youth who abuses drugs are usually more likely to engage in antisocial behaviors such as violence and stealing than youth who do not.
Risky sexual behavior. A youth who uses drugs engages in risky sex as compared to youth who do not. In addition, youth using drug are usually more likely to engage in unprotected sex with strangers. As a result, this increases chances of contracting STDs, pregnancy and acts of sexual assault (Stewart, 2002).
Addiction and dependence. Various researches have proved that youth using drugs develops substance use problem abuse and relapse later in life.
Learning problems. Use of drugs destroys both long term and short term memory, which leads to difficulties in leaning process. Learning problem also occurs due to the permanent or irreversible brain and nervous system damage. Brain damage among the youth using drugs includes amnesia, brain shrinkage, impaired reasoning, impaired learning and change in socialization among others. All these changes normally have cumulative effects to the brain (Stewart, 2002).
Diseases. Youth abusing drugs with needles increases the risk of contracting illnesses such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS.
The problem drug abuse among the youth involves the society as much as it does users. Drug and substance abuse present both social and economic problems to the society. Researchers have repeatedly stressed on the existence of relationship between drug abuse and crime (Unruhe, 2006). About 80% of the crimes committed criminal parolees, probationers and offenders are usually multipliers outcomes use of illegal substance. For youth to support expensive drug habits, they engage in crime such as prostitution and robbery. Therefore, citizens within those communities’ experiences increased insecurity. Likewise, addicted youth who are usually desperate to procure drugs are influenced to commit a crime (Unruhe, 2006).
The economic effects of drug abuse among the youth are measured in two different forms. One is through the cost incurred by the government during drug enforcement policies and through loss of human productivity (Getzen, 2010). United States of America spends billions of dollars annually on law enforcement and other concerted efforts aimed at drug interdiction. Drug and substance abuse among the youth leads to death hence loss of human productivity. Other economic impacts include a decrease in population as a result of premature death among the youth and illness among the youth (Getzen, 2010).
From the above discussion, it is evident that the use of drugs among many youths has become rampant all over the world. Its abuse is growing extremely fast, and more youths are becoming victims of drug abuse. This is leading to the risking of lives to millions of people from all corners of the world, different countries and cultures (Getzen, 2010). The use of hard drug such as heroin and cocaine has begun to reflect culturally and socially. Youths who are becoming addicted making them a burden to the society and being considered as misfortunes. Although, the government is increasing on its expenditure on programs aimed at reducing drug use among the youths, and the rate of drug of drug abuse seems to be growing at a faster rate (Getzen, 2010).
Teenage violence is on the rise and suicide rates have increased. Among the school going students, their school performance has continued to deteriorate making many of them to be expelled from schools (Getzen, 2010). Notions about the destructiveness of certain drugs have changed throughout the history. Actually, many drugs that are prohibited were once recommended by doctors.
Youths are vulnerable to the adverse health effects caused by drugs. Their psychological and physical states of development make them more prone to adverse health effects of drug abuse (Shaw, 1994). These illness effects do not only cause short term implications, but also cause adverse long term health effects later in their lives. Identification of the underlying factors for the drug abuse among the youths is the best strategy to curb the current increasing trend of drug abuse (Shaw, 1994).
Preventive measures are always the best in mitigating vulnerability and susceptibility of youths to drugs. Recent findings indicate that most youths, both school going and non-school going youths were first introduced to drugs while raving. More surprisingly, taking ecstasy, rave parties have become the market place for the hardest drugs (Henderson, 2005). It has become a routine for party goers as young as twelve years old. They are introduced to drugs at such a tender age. This trend has become so serious in some countries such as the United States that it has sparked concerns in the society (Henderson, 2005). Actions should be taken instantly to highlight the danger of taking drugs. The current interventions put in place by the management of some hotels that host dinner parties are not adequate enough to curtail drug abuse (Cohen, 1984).
Putting some warning information on tickets to these rave parties is not good enough. Additional actions must be taken by the management and the government so as to prevent drug abuse among the school going and non-school youths (Cohen, 2005). Instead of just putting warning on rave tickets, the government should ban rave parties. This will make drug couriers lack access to the youths. This will further eliminate the current rave sub cultures that if left unchecked will do more harm to the youths. Instead of rave parties, the government can come up with other activities that will bring the youths together and do more constructive things (Cohen, 2005) Activities such as ball games and social services will not only promote good health among the youths, but it will also enhance the positive development of the mind.
In order to stop drug trafficking, which avail drugs for the youths in the markets, the government should increase the border patrol police officers. Regular and intensive inspection by the cross-border and custom authorities should be emphasized. The will prevent the flow of drugs from countries where they are grown (Cohen, 2005). Mainland police officers should also join hands with the cross border police officer to curb drug trafficking.
In families, programs can also be formulated to educate and offer skills to parents on the supervision and monitoring of their children movement and communication activities. These programs should target the entire family (Hurley, 1999). Children can be taught social, personal and communication skills. Such a program will help develop the family functioning as a unit. It will improve the interpersonal relationships among family members. As a result, reduced interaction among family member has been found to increase drug use. Therefore, programs will also increase youth’s attachment to their parent (Henderson, 2005).
Drug education to school going youths can also be introduced in the school’s curriculum. Proof based drug training based on life skills that offer social, personal, communication and drug resistance techniques. Students should be taught on the causes and implications of indulging in drug abuse. It is important to mention that many youths end up being drug addicts, because they were never taught or told what drugs is capable of doing in their lives (Henderson, 2005). Students can be educated on good health practices that promote their health. They should be encouraged to take part in field activities so as to avoid being idle.
To eliminate drug abuse among the youths, full enforcement of the law must take place. Drug kingpins should be identified in the society (Hurley, 1999). Such people need to be eliminated from the society. The punishment to such people should be made harsher. This will ensure that anyone thinking of engaging in drug dealing is fully aware of the legal implications. Such harsher punishment can include confiscation of a drug dealer’s assets and extended prison sentences once caught. This will act as a primary determent for drug traffickers (Henderson, 2005). Harsher laws should also be made to prevent smuggling, producing and growing of drugs.
Finally, the governments need to increase money set aside for rehabilitation of drug addicts. This will help restoring youths to their initial states. Lastly, those who had left school can again go back to school to pursue their careers (Cohen, 2005).
In conclusion, drug abuse among the youths is a complex issue that is thought to result from different factors. It can include combining psychological, environmental and hereditary factors (Getzen, 2010). Identification of the major cause of drug abuse among the youths can be the first step in reducing the increasing rate of drug use among non-school going and school going youths. Drug abuse has the potential to affect the neonatal stage to old age (Getzen, 2010).
Since drug abuse among the youths and negligence are inextricably connected, identification of substance abusing youths in the youthful justice system is the central initial step for intervening in both the drug abuse among the school going and non-school going youths (Shaw, 1994). Drug identification approaches, followed by effective interventions can be significant in preventing delinquency and illicit drug use.
Drug testing can also be instrumental as a constructive means of helping the youths overcome denial of their drug abuse. Therefore, as part of an intervention, drug testing can also be used to help the youths in achieving and maintaining recovery (Cohen, 2005). It will further curtail the development of other deviant behaviors. Eventually, an effective drug identification program will help youth’s justice corporations to attain their goals of preventing drug abuse among the youths, achieve community protection, competency development and increase the youth’s accountability (Hurley, 1999).
Methodological and traditional theoretical approaches to the study of drug use and addiction among the youths need to be modified to address the current issues that are making many youths end up in drug abuse. Theoretical models need to be expanded to include the effects of community, cultural and minority status factors making many non-school going students end up using drugs (Hunderson, 2005).
A multi-disciplinary approach is necessary to curtail drug abuse among the youths. Parents, school administration, governments and non-governmental organizations contribution should highly promote a drug free society. Health care providers must also offer professional guidance to the youths on the various health effects of abusing drugs. Most important, the youths must accept that they have a problem and seek help from those who are close to them and whom they feel open (Shaw, 1994). Since many youths continue lavishing in problems as they fail to identify drugs as a challenge in their lives. Integrating youths into policy making bodies can also improve on the quality of policies made to help in the overall reduction of drug abuse among the youths (Hurley, 1999).