The problem of drug and alcohol abuse among youngsters has become a social and concern of national importance that merits closer attention and demands significant thrust and efforts by parents, teachers and government. This 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).
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). Their peers or friends, public trends, and general acceptance of limited drug use that is considered social and normal initiate a large number of teenagers to substance abuse.
Youngsters are indeed under great pressure to use drugs due to pressure from their immediate social interaction, and because drug use is seen as sign of growing up. In this regard, reports and surveys have strongly indicated that once youngsters understand the dangers associated with drug abuse, there is a significant reduction in drug abuse among them.
Many youngsters turn to drug abuse feeling they are invincible before drugs and thereby get entrapped in the vicious circles of alcohol and drug addiction (Prichard and Payne, 2005). Generally youngsters are initiated in the drug cycle with a relatively less dangerous but highly addictive drug marijuana. Later on they are motivated to use more dangerous and potentially life threatening drugs such as crack, cocaine, and heroine, making them completely depended on drug. Increasing instances of substance abuse also finds hand of organized drug mafia whose business depends on increasing the size of their spread by popularizing the concept that drug use is common and therefore acceptable (Cherry, Dillon and Rugh, 2002)..
Effect of Substance Abuse
Dependence upon 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 (Prichard and Payne, 2005).
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). Heavy drug abuse leads to permanent damage to brain tissues, cause lasting depression, irritability, mood swings, inability to take decisions, reduction in cognitive and intellectual abilities, isolation from family and friends, increase in suicidal tendency, coma and even death.
Remedy of substance use
The problems related to drugs and alcohols are systematic, long term and need consistent monitoring, support and treatment, something that is only possible in the family setup (Langfield, MacIntyre and Turner, 2006). Individual treatment is seldom effective as its effects are short termed and in the absence of any preventive motivation and check adolescents tend to fall back to the use of drugs and alcohol. Therefore the problem requires a systematic, comprehensive and all out approach to attack its foundation. The government, in coordination of society needs to evolve policies and programs that prevent youngsters from being initiated into the drug use (Rivers and Shore,1997).
An important step in this effort is to identify the youngsters who have already used/abused drug once and ensuring that they are not led to further abuse of drugs and/or alcohol. In this regard, federal student drug testing program is a major initiative that aims to make students aware of their own drug abusing habits without exposing them or embarrassing them before their friends and family members (Rivers and Shore,1997).
The mission should also aim to spread awareness against performance enhancement drugs in sports academies and sporting teams, as these drugs encourage students to take illegal drugs at later stages. This priority should also focus on making younger people aware of better health options, educating them on full range of dangers associated with drug abuse, the permanent debilitating effect of drugs like cocaine, marijuana and heroine on their family relation, health, career and entire life (Haier, Maddi and Wadhwa, 1996).
The program must aims at launching a comprehensive media program to educate youngsters on all the aspects of drug abuse. It also includes the intention to induce help from families, schools, sports coaches, teachers and community leaders in to reinforce the message that drug use is extremely harmful, dangerous and leads to irreparable loss (Cherry, Dillon and Rugh, 2002).
The substance abuses prevention policy should further aims to use public health infrastructure to intervene in the initial period of drug abuse. An integrated aspect is to use medical institutions as a screening procedure and providing treatment to every one, whether they can afford institutional treatment or not. The program should also includes patients risk assessment by physicians to estimate their potential of drug abuse (Haier, Maddi and Wadhwa, 1996).
The final priority in program should be concerned with attacking the well structured and deeply rooted drug trade by targeting foundation of drug business, such as agricultural production of many drugs, their transportation and distribution network, its organizational and hierarchical system and its transportation system (Cherry, Dillon and Rugh, 2002). This strategy promises impressive results with certain elimination of major drug cartels, elimination of cocaine trade and make significant progress in bringing down the size of organized drug market. In this regard United Sates is committed to closely interact with international community to share information and collectively act against the drug trade.
Andrew Cherry, Dillon, M.E, Rugh, D. 2002. Substance Abuse: A Global View. Greenwood Press. Westport, CT.
Haier, R.J. Maddi. S.R. Wadhwa. S.R. 1996. Relationship of Hardiness to Alcohol and Drug Use in Adolescents. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Volume: 22. Issue: 2.
P.A. Langfield, M. MacIntyre and J.G. Turner. 2006. Adolescent Alcohol and Drug Abuse. 27.02.2007. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/consumer/10216.html
Prichard J. and Payne J. 2005. Alcohol, Drugs and Crime: A study of Juvenile in Detention. Australian Institute of Criminology. 27.02.2007. http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/rpp/67/06_chapter2.html#1
P. Clayton Rivers and Elsie R. Shore. 1997. Substance Abuse on Campus: A Handbook for College and University Personnel.Greenwood Press.Westport, CT.