Substance Abuse in the Youth
Substance abuse also known as drug abuse, among the youth is one of the major and challenging public health concerns. The growing age i.e. teenage is also full of enormous challenges. Substance abuse leads to serious problems and causes mental health problems, social backwardness and brings stress in the family and relations. Long addiction to substance abuse can lead to substance dependence, severe health problems, social as well as financial consequences. Youth is that age group which is seriously and severely affected by the drug abuse rather than others.
Every year, 26June is celebrated as “International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking”. There are several campaigns run against drug abuse but the condition is becoming severe.
Consequences of Substance Abuse among Youth
Substance abuse has become very common among the young people (from age 15 and above). There are several patterns found among youths such as:
Apart from these differentiated patterns, there are several reasons of substance abuse such as experimental, for fun, to escape, to remain in a situation like stay awake, or to reduce pain or stress.
According to National Institute of Drug Abuse (http://www.drugabuse.gov/) has reported that peers pressure has a large influence on illicit drug use behaviour in the teenagers. Most of the time teenagers use drugs either to impress others or to prevent from being neglected from their friend circles. The first time behavioural drug use is for experiment mostly. There remains a curiosity among them to taste or to know about it. Twice or thrice teenagers take due to peer pressure and later on they become addict. Familial consequences are also responsible where children are in continuous exposure towards drugs. Drug use of any of the family members like father, mother, grandparents etc also triggers behavioural use of drug as teens get many of their values within the home from their parents and when they see parents smoking, drinking or using any other drug, they also mimic them. Stress is a common natural problem in everyone’s life. Most of the adults, attempt substance abuse to get relieve from stress, depression or frustration. Adults face many problems in their day to day life including generalized disorder, social anxiety disorder, child abuse, family negligence which may lead to mental stress. Adults most of the time practice substance abuse in such conditions. Now a days, drug abuse from normal (smoking, drinking) to severe and heavy (cocaine, marijuana and others heavy drugs) have become a status symbol among the youths.
Risks Factors of Substance Abuse in Youth:
Substance abuse among youth is both a health as well as social problems. Medically, all the drugs damage the brain and continuous prolonged use can lead to nervous imbalance. Sometimes it is very fatal leading to cancer and other such diseases. Speaking other than medicines, drug abuse also leads to social, economical and legal problems. There are various psychological aspects which lead to drug abuse.
Legal Problems: Drug possession (cocaine, marijuana, LSD, morphine etc) is an illegal act and can invite legal action against the person. Recreational use of drugs is also illegal. Drug – offence also result in legal activities. A person can be charged legally if he is found using banned drugs in the public. It even leads to criminal activities. Many athletes also use drugs for performance enhancement and improvement. There are strict rules and acts against this which may even lead to life time ban from the supports.
Social Problems: Drug abuse leads to social risks, such as loss of morals and ethics. An addict is not considered as a social being in the society. He is hated and despised by everyone. Drug addiction among youth may lead to unsafe sex which can be the reason of STIs (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Sexually-transmitted-infections/Pages/Introduction.aspx). It also spoils social and personal relationships. There are economical risks as well. The drug addict spends lots of money on buying the drugs which makes him economically weak.
Health Risk: Drug abuse leads to various mental and physical risks depending upon a person, situation and the drug type. Stimulant drugs can lead to heart strokes, failure and is fatal. Stimulants lead to imbalanced heart functioning, cardiovascular conditions, poor liver functioning, global body changes, anorexia, breathing problems. Some drugs can lead to mental disorders, mental disturbance, and memory loss. Drug abuse affects all the body organs. It weakens the immune system, which may lead to infections. Most of the youth face this problem as due to prolong use of drugs they become susceptible towards the infections. Drugs are chemicals. Different drugs have different chemical structures which creates problems in the nervous system due to imbalance in the neurotransmitters.
Behavioural Problems: Excessive drug abuse causes problems in the behaviour. Youths experience numerous problems such as
– Addiction & dependence: Prolonged substance abuse leads to addiction and later on turns out to be drug dependency and substance use disorder. Addiction and dependence leads to overdose which can be fatal. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001522.htm)
– Impaired judgement: Impaired judgement leads to problem in making right decisions. Youths, who are addicted, they lack ability to take decisions, so they remain very backward.
– Impulsiveness: Impulsiveness may create problems in finance, relations and physical health and even leads to legal issues. (http://bpd.about.com/od/understandingbpd/a/impulseBPD.htm)
– Loss of Self – Control: Behavioural drug abuse leads to loss of self control. It includes control over physical (body control) as well as emotional conditions (anger).
– Paranoia: It includes delusions of persecution, fear, self importance etc. Paranoia is persecution feelings and self importance (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/paranoia-and-paranoid-disorders)
– Aggressiveness: Continuous drug abuse leads to impaired mood behavior, aggressiveness being one a major outcome. In this condition, the person is not able to judge and can do anything wrong.
– Hallucinations: Hallucinations are imaginations of the mind which seem/appear to be real, affecting any of the five senses. Drug abuse leads to hallucinations.
Due to prolonged drug abuse, the body becomes addict and dependant on it. In such condition, even to function normally, the body needs certain amount of drugs. It becomes very hard and challenging to prevent drug abuse in such conditions. As studies shows that peer pressure being major concern, makes the teen use drug. In such conditions, teen/youths should effectively deal with their friends. They should learn to avoid it. Another reason is life pressure which leads to many mental conditions, such as head ache, depression, and stress. Youth take some amount of drug to overcome such problems and later on become dependent. Instead they must learn to cope with these problems. They should find other ways instead of drug abuse. Like waking up early morning, meditation, walking, motivation etc can lead to a healthy and balanced life. If the problem is severe, than instead of using drugs, one must seek help from a professional psychologist/psychiatrist. Drug abuse distracts the youth from their path, which leads to damage to their life and career. Youth should be motivated and strong enough to avoid drugs. Youth should choose life, not the drugs.