Drug Addiction – Problem for Young People
|Drug Addiction – Still a Growing Problem for Young People
A conservative estimate places young people between the ages of 16 and 29 to comprise 75 percent of the nearly 25 million Americans addicted to alcohol and other drugs. This very big percentage is largely due to the significant misconceptions of this particular age group with regards to drug use and abuse. Add to this their lack of information about the impact of state and federal drug policies and a serious problem exists.
Drug Addiction is commonly defined as the habitual and uncontrollable use of a drug. It is often used interchangeably with other terms such as drug abuse and drug dependence. Abuse in its strictest sense refers to the taking of drugs without medical need, in an amount large enough to threaten the quality of life or health and safety of the user or others. Dependence is a compelling need to continue taking a mind-altering drug to induce pleasure or to relieve anxiety and tension as well as avoid discomfort. Addiction is the disruptive behavior or activity associated with obtaining and using a drug that a person is dependent on.
Many drugs, including sleeping pills and some stimulants are addicting. Drugs are an integral part of everyday life for many people. The legality and social acceptance of the use of a particular drug often depends on what it is used for, its effects and its users. The use of marijuana for pleasure is not socially accepted by most people but its use by a person with an advanced cancer to relieve nausea can change even the most solid stance of resistance. In fact, the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been legalized by some government.
Mind-altering drugs are not all illegal and here lies the danger. Some drugs affect brain function each time they are used regardless of the amount used. Others would have this affect only if taken in large amounts or used continuously.
Doctors may be able to detect problems created by the use of mind-altering drugs which are not readily recognizable by friends, family or even by the person himself/herself. These problems are often manifested by changes in mood or behavior. Persons that have to take certain drugs especially for long periods of time should ask their doctor about the potential consequences of prolonged use of specific drugs.
Certain drugs are classified as illegal because they have been proven to be dangerous to the individual and the society. Classification is based on evidence of the adverse effects of the drug on reliable historical, epidemiological and scientific facts. There are proponents to the idea that illegal drugs should be made commercially available and socially acceptable to remove the mystery and the attraction these drugs present to people especially the young. However, it is fairly difficult to quantify the physical, psychological and social harm the free access to these drugs would produce.
Drug Use Among the Young
Recent trends in youth drug use have shown a significant downturn in usage levels but they still remain at high levels. According to studies made, it was evident that the earlier drug use is initiated, the more likely it is for a person to develop drug problems later in life. Substance abuse in youth can lead to many other problems like the development of delinquent behavior, anti-social attitudes and health related issues. Drug related problems do not affect the child only, but rather the family and the community as well.
Substance use among adolescents occurs on phases of experimentation to dependence. The consequences of these acts range from having no visible effects at all to life-threatening situations. The gravity of effects would depend on the substance, the circumstances and the frequency of use. It has been proven however, that even occasional use can produce significant harm such as overdose, motor vehicle accidents and unwanted pregnancy.
Alcohol is the most often used substance among young people. There are certain risk-factors that would determine whether an adolescent will try alcohol or not. Social acceptability and media advertising are among those that can easily influence the vulnerable minds of young people. Genetics may also be a big factor. This is also true with smoking. Parents and peers who smoke are partly responsible for a youth’s decision to try smoking.
The use of anabolic steroids in the young can be attributed to some athletic aim or purpose although some use it for other purposes as well. Most take it without the benefit of reliable advice and remain unaware of the bad effects of taking such drugs, especially at a very young age. Some realize their mistakes only when it is too late to reverse its effects.
Juvenile detainees who tested positive for drugs are mostly marijuana users. The other drugs frequently used include cocaine, heroine, opiates, methamphetamine and inhalants among others. An interesting study conducted came out with results to the effect that there is a higher incidence of drug use among individuals with no participation in youth activities such as bands, sports, student government or dance lessons. This would then lend credence to the thinking that young people would not use drugs if they only have something better to do. This is where the guidance of people in authority including parents, teachers and mentors would come into play.
Persistent substance abuse by young people leads to academic difficulties, health-related problems which include mental health, poor peer relationship and the inevitable involvement with the juvenile justice system. The misery brought on by drug addiction to one family cannot be quantified by numbers or statistics. The mixed feelings of betrayal, loneliness, loss of confidence and respect and a general conflict of emotions among family members can be very difficult to accurately describe.
It is bad enough to have one family member involved in drug problems but it is even worse to see a young life previously filled with hope and joy literally snuffed-out. Youth is associated with adventurism and natural curiosity to experience something new. These are the very things that a peddler of this drug habit seeks to penetrate. Youth adventurism and curiosity could be put to better use in more worthwhile activities.
Young people themselves recognize the problem. They know that drug use and drug addiction are some of the most important issues facing their generation today. However, knowing and doing something about it are two entirely different things. It would require a lot of work to arrest the problem and totally reverse it.
Treating youth for substance use can be very complicated. Whereas the normal factors considered in treatment include the severity of the substance, cultural background and presence of coexisting disorders, programs dealing with youths should consider the age, level of maturity, family and the peer environment. Failing to do so would doom any treatment to failure.
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