Illegal Drugs among Teens
The use of licit drugs amongst teenagers is worrying. Many teenagers are becoming victims of illicit drug use mainly due to increasing availability and popularity of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amongst other drugs. For instance, the marijuana use amongst teenagers was in the decline from late 1990s until mid-2000s. However, since then, it has been on the increase again. As stated by Flum and Martin (101), “marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug amongst adolescents and teenagers”. The recent rise in the use of marijuana amongst teenagers reflects the changing attitudes and perceptions about drugs. Previously, the use of marijuana went up with the decrease of the perception of risks and vice versa. Nowadays, young people little disapprove marijuana intake. Furthermore, they are developing a decreased perception that marijuana is a dangerous drug. In general, there is a growing perception amongst teenagers that marijuana is safe and good for human usage.
Illicit drug use amongst teenagers includes the abuse prescription medications. These may as well include an assorted range of household substances. This is something that many teenagers across the world engage in occasionally. A few teenagers do this regularly. About more than half of adolescent youths in twelfthgrade have abused illicit drug at least once in their life. Apart from marijuana, teenagers also commonly abused glues, prescription medications, alcohol, tobacco, aerosols amongst others. Apart from these, there are also new synthetic drugs that have cropped in the market. The use of new synthetic drugs by teenagers also creates a worrying trend. However, their use is not as popular as marijuana. Synthetic drugs refer to herbal mixtures that are laced with synthetic chemicals such as THC, which is the primary active ingredient in marijuana. Most of these synthetic drugs are nowadays commonly available in the market and freely accessible by teenagers.
During the adolescent ages, many young people want to express their autonomy by taking risks. This is a common attitude and behavior across all young people. Risk taking thus becomes normal and a welcomed attitude and behavior during the adolescent life. Although risk taking is a positive development into adulthood, it carries severe potential dangers in the life of teenagers. The most common danger is the risk of indulging in illicit drug abuse. On the other hand, some adolescents engage in abuse of illicit drugs simply because they are trying out something new. Majority also fall victim of drug abuse due to peer pressure and influence. Because they want to be maintained within their peers, they are compelled to take illicit drugs. Peer pressure greatly influences the extent and nature of drug abuse amongst young people. Some also start abusing drugs because they want recognition.
Obviously, illicit drugs have severe and lethal effects on the life of teenagers. Unfortunately, most young people indulge in drug abuse without understanding the effects and risks involved. In particular, teenagers become vulnerable to the damaging effects of illicit drug use. This is because their brains and other body organs are still developing. For instance, the use of marijuana has severe lasting effects on the brain. Drug abuse amongst teenagers is also widely associated with many harmful behaviors such as sexual immorality, criminal activities etc. The use of illicit drugs amongst teenagers can cause both long term and short-term health problems. It is apparently very difficult to generalize what effects might be exhibited in an individual. Furthermore, many illicit drugs do not have standardized dosage.
As explained by Murphey et al (2), adolescent teenagers who use illicit drugs are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors. They are also involved in crime and delinquency. In addition, teenagers who use illicit drugs usually have problems in schools. The school problems may include poor academic performance, low attendance, as well as increased likelihood of school dropout and expulsion. Additionally, the use of illicit drug affects their relationships with friends and family members. This causes the affected teenager to be dishonest, violent, unreliable, or forgetful. This ultimately put them to increased risk of victim of violence. These effects will last for ages thus affecting their adulthood life.
Illicit drugs also cause numerous physical problems in teenagers. This depends on the type of drug being abused by the teenager. In the short term, these physical problems may include heart attack, lung failure, and heart failure etc. On the long term, they may include cardiovascular and lung diseases, obesity, cancer etc. Illicit drug use also increases the risk of contracting other diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. In general, teenagers who abuse illicit drugs have a reduced lifespan. They also have higher death rates as compared to their peers who do not abuse drugs. This is because they have increased risks of homicide, suicide, illness, as well as injuries. Such children may also develop severe mental disorders such as paranoia, developmental delays, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, delusions, and mood disturbances (Gullotta et al 45).
Flum, Jörg, and Martin Ziegler. Topological Model Theory. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, 2005. Print.
Gullotta, Thomas P, Robert W. Plant, and Melanie A. Evans. Handbook of Adolescent Behavioral Problems: Evidence-based Approaches to Prevention and Treatment. , 2014. Internet resource.
Murphey, Barry, B Vaughn, M Guzman, and Terzian, “Adolescent Health Highlight: Use of Illicit Drugs”: Child Trends 11, 2013.