Drug Abuse in Teenagers – Research Paper


Drug abuse is also known as chemical abuse, or substance abuse, it is a disorder that is exemplified by a disparaging pattern of using a substance that leads to major problems or distress (Ozechowski, & Liddle, 2000). Teens are progressively more engaging in prescription drug abuse, predominantly narcotics, which are prescribed to relieve severe pain, and stimulant medications, which treat conditions like attention deficit disorder. Teenagers try out with drugs for many various reasons; out of inquisitiveness and curiosity, influence from peers, to progress with athletic performance, relieving stress, anxiety, and depression. Drug abuse is not automatically caused by drug use, and there is no exact stage at which drug use becomes problematic, but depends with the individual.  Drug abuse is not about the amount of substance used and consumed, but it is more to do with the effects and consequences of drug use.

Statement of the problem

Every day, thousands of teenagers try out illegitimate drugs. Although many of them do not take the illegitimate drugs beyond the try out stage, far too many teenagers are engaging in drug abuse, hence disrupting their lives. Similar to everything that identify life as a teenager, fashion and trends utter which drugs are highest abused. Commonly abused drugs among teenagers are; marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, inhalants, and heroine. It does not matter the kind of drugs teens abuse but they risk everything in their lives; education, future, integrity, self-esteem, and relationship with family and friends. Parents who detect, and notice any changes in the lives of their teenagers, should step in and get involved by setting limits and boundaries. Nevertheless, for teenagers who drug abuse has bloomed into drug addiction, the problem has changed from corrective issue to one that is medical in nature (Ozechowski, & Liddle, 2000). Drug addiction in teenagers should be responded with appropriate treatment that range from weekly drug counseling to rehabilitation services, and teenagers in any level of drug addiction can benefit from these treatments.

Literature review

In latest years, the tendencies and trends in drug abuse have turned out to be more intricate, and hence more difficult to explain (Hubbard, Marsden, & Racholl, 1989). The major reasons for this complexity are the gang, and group effects that have surfaced, hence increasing the rates of drug use. These effects have resulted in different groups and classes reaching their highs, and lows in various drug use. In America, multibillion dollar industries, promote the abuse of drugs among adolescents, and teenagers. Statistics show that 75-80% 0f teenagers aged 20years have tried an illegal drug, as well as 50-55% high school seniors have also tried other illicit drugs apart from marijuana. In 1985, one in each twenty high school seniors, smoked marijuana daily. About the same number of students drank alcohol daily, and 37% drank alcohol more than five times in a week. 30% of teenagers had smoked cigarettes, and 20% were daily smokers. Use of cocaine, one of the most addictive substances, has risen during the last decade; its price has also dropped, hence, being available to adolescents, and teenagers. Polydrug use, another startling trend, occurs when a person uses two or more substances at the same time, these results into harmful and dangerous effects, this has also been reported to be on the increase among teenagers.

Reasons why teenagers indulge in drug abuse

There are various factors that influence teenagers to indulge in drug abuse: these reasons affect the life, and the future of the teenager, and the people close to the teenager, parents can be able to help their children get out of drug abuse, when they understand the motives why teens use drugs.  Absentee parents have increased the rate of drug abuse among teenagers, since they are not present to; educate, discipline or support the teen already in drug abuse. Stress is the most vital reason why teenagers indulge in drug abuse, a recent study revealed that pressure from school, is leading teenagers in drug abuse (Naylor, Gardner, & Zaichkowsky, 2001).  Adolescent or teenage hood are usually rough years, since there are many changes happening, especially low moods; this causes a teenager to be angry, and frustrated. These closed up emotions lead to anxiety, and depression. Many teenagers don’t understand the mood disorders, hence causing them to use illegal drugs to self medicate themselves.

Misinformation and ignorance are also other reasons that have made teenagers indulge in drug abuse, 40% of teenagers don’t understand the dangers, and risks of using drugs especially heroine (Naylor, Gardner,  & Zaichkowsky, 2001).  In addition, 41% of teenagers incorrectly believe that it is safe to use over- the counter drugs, than it is to use illegal drugs. Easy access and availability of drugs have promoted the high rates of drug abuse among teenagers. Virtually, 50% of teens report that it is easy to get marijuana, 14% says it is easy to access and obtain heroin, and 17% of the teens say it is easy to get meth. Lastly low self-esteem and desire for acceptance, compels teenagers to engage in drug abuse, 65% of teenagers indulge in drug abuse to feel good about them, and be identified by their own peers.

Effects of drug abuse in teenagers

Drug abuse causes serious health, physical, and emotional effects in all age groups, however teenagers that abuse drugs are at a greater risk, and suffer from these consequences. They struggle with addiction, and may have lasting, and irreparable brain damage; impaired learning abilities, amnesia, brain shrinkage, changes in sexual libido, and memory problems. Secondly, teenagers who abuse drugs suffer from behavioral and emotional problems; suicidal thoughts, depression, early pregnancies, abortion, violence, mood swings, and delinquent behavior like fighting and stealing (Newcomb, 1995). Thirdly, absenteeism, and poor performance in academics are also effects of drug abuse, since abuse of drugs result to memory disorders.

Abuse of drugs also affects our physical health, injuries due to accidents, disabilities, weakened immune system, and diseases. Uneven numbers of teenagers involved in drug abuse face increased risks of death through illness, homicide, and suicides. Risks of being infected with sexually transmitted diseases, due to exposure of body fluids of infected people through, sharing of drug injections, and sexual contacts. In addition, families of teenagers indulged in drug abuse are greatly affected, and can result to dysfunctions in the families (Newcomb, 1995). Also teenagers who abuse drugs are estranged, and stigmatized by their peers. Finally drug abuse result into social and economic problems, because of losses incurred through crimes and violence. Also a lot of money is spent through rehabilitation programs.

Preventing teenage drug abuse

Persistent and reliable information to teenagers about drugs and alcohol can prevent drug abuse. Efficient and successful prevention of drug abuse will require manifold messengers; teachers, parents, peers and the community as a whole to pass the information to children at a younger age. The primary goal and objective of drug prevention is to delay the first use of drugs. Statistics indicate that teenagers, who start using drugs, before age 14, will experience drug dependence, than the individuals who start using drugs at the age of 21 years. However, other protecting factors like; practical parenting, and strong family connections delay drug experimentation among teenagers, hence reduce long –term problems. Lastly, for drug preventions to work well, attention should be given to preventing factors, in many areas of the teenager. Since, reducing one risk factor will result in reducing manifold problems in, school, community, and among peers, and friends.


The first method that was used to obtained information on, drug and substance abuse among teenagers was interviews (Dusenbury, Brannigan, Falco, & Hansen,  2003).Another form of methodology used was questioners; structured questioners were formulated to target teenagers’ between the ages of 14-18 years. The questioners aimed at gathering information on, how many teenagers have indulged in drug abuse. What type of drugs did they use, and the reasons why they indulged in drug abuse. From the questioners, it was ascertained that 50% of the teenagers that filled the questionnaires, had tried out one, or two types of drug abuse, alcohol and illegal drugs where the common used.

In conclusion, drug abuse in teenagers is on the rampant. It is mainly caused by, low self-esteem, desire for acceptance, absentee parents, self medication, misinformation, and ignorance. Having identified these causes, preventive measures and strategies, like practical parenting skills, establishing strong family bonds, and connections, need to be implemented. These will ensure that the problem has declined, and establishments of a drug free society.