Adolescence Substance Abuse and How to Address It

Topic: Public Health
Words: 1441 Pages: 5


Alarming yearly societal developments impact individuals, families, communities, towns, and nations. To cope with the stress of social change, many teenagers turn to substance abuse. Substance misuse is a significant problem among adolescents at a time when they should be focusing on school and other positive activities for their future development. A nation is interested in protecting its teenagers since they are vital to the nation’s future prosperity and growth and are at risk of adverse physical and mental effects. Adolescent substance addiction prevention efforts rely heavily on developing a solid basis and focused ideas while keeping in mind the detrimental impacts of drug abuse (Jackson et al., 2018). The first line of defense in protecting the future generation is for school administrations and parents to take robust measures to reduce or eliminate substance usage.

Adolescents appear to be introduced to addiction and substance use through alcohol drinking, possibly due to alcohol’s legality and relative ease of access compared to other drugs. According to data on the health of adolescents, over 20% of high school students start drinking before the age of 13, with about 40% of those drinking having received beer from an adult they know (Daniels et al., 2021). Long-term alcohol usage can lead to tolerance, reducing the beneficial effects of drinking and leading to more heavy drinking in an attempt to re-experience those effects. Some adolescents develop a habit of drinking intermittently or on binges, which leads to harmful physical and psychological impacts when the behavior is no longer under control. Most young people experiment with drugs like marijuana and cocaine because they seek this impact.

Adolescent substance misuse, including legal and illegal substances, is a growing problem. About one in twenty high school seniors report using marijuana daily or nearly daily, illustrating the widespread nature of substance use and misuse among today’s youth. Peer pressure and the perception that famous people use drugs are two factors that can lead to drug misuse (Jackson et al., 2018). One more recent explanation for adolescent drug use is that it helps them succeed in school. Many students abuse study aids like Ritalin and Adderall because they allow them to focus more intensely and for more extended periods. However, legal and illegal drugs adolescents use are highly addictive and carry the risk of both psychological and bodily dependence.

Effects of Substance Abuse in Adolescence

Adolescent substance addiction is associated with high economic, social, and health costs. Injury from drug intoxication, crime, violence, car accidents, mental health issues, risky sexual behavior, and even suicide have all been connected to adolescent substance usage. Around the world, young people most often abuse narcotics, alcohol, cigarettes, barbiturates, cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, and cocaine (Jackson et al., 2018). Ravenousness, schizophrenia, excessive euphoria, recurrent bad dream, tachycardia, bronchitis, tingling, carcinomas, chronic cough, and increased obstruction of psychomotor and cognitive functions are some negative impacts that drugs have on the psychological and physiological health of adolescents.

Adolescent substance addiction can best be understood in family and romantic relationships, particularly with parents and significant others. Adolescents’ use of cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs is strongly correlated with their exposure to their parents’ substance misuse. Parents who are overburdened with work and family responsibilities may neglect their children. This can create a chasm in the parent-child relationship and leave teenagers more vulnerable to the influences of the broader culture. Adolescent drug usage is often motivated by low self-esteem. Some young people use drugs to boost their confidence. Henke et al. (2018) report that roughly 13% of American adolescents currently utilize illicit substances. Teenagers may be more influenced by repeated exposure to on-screen cigarette smoking three times more than an adult.

Substance addiction has adverse effects on the development of teenagers. Teens who choose to self-medicate with drugs face a grim future, although they may be doing so to alleviate temporary emotional or psychological distress. Adolescent substance misuse can lead to a variety of adverse outcomes. They include but are not limited to clinical depression, poor or deteriorating health, broken families or friendships, worry, sadness, feelings of isolation, and difficulty making and keeping friends (Zhai et al., 2020). Adolescents might use illegal drugs beyond the stated effects due to the sense of community they find in organizations that engage in substance usage. Substance misuse has devastating consequences for everyone involved, including the friends and family of teenagers who engage in destructive behavior. Teen drug addiction can have serious consequences, including unintended pregnancies, dropped classes, missed chances, and even legal problems like lengthy prison sentences.

Risk Factors

Adolescents from all socioeconomic backgrounds utilize harmful substances, yet some are more susceptible to addiction and its consequences than others. Teens who struggle with mental health issues like anxiety or depression are more vulnerable to the seductions of drug usage than their non-afflicted peers (Koehler, 2020). Adolescents constantly move around between schools or different types of facilities and may experience anxiety and isolation. They may turn to drugs to dull their feelings in such situations. When young people use drugs, the sooner they start, the more likely they will develop and maintain a substance abuse problem as adults. Substance misuse is common among adolescents who are experiencing chronic pain. Adolescents with chronic pain could seek treatment from doctors by using prescription opioids; before they know it, they are addicted to the drugs (Abraham et al., 2021). Adolescents whose friends use drugs or whose parents or other close relatives have a history of substance use are also at risk.

Adolescence is a time of transition for young people, both physically and mentally. When all other process variables and factors are considered, the family dynamic is still a significant predictor of adolescent drug use (Kapetanovic et al., 2019). Teenagers should not be treated like adults because they have a unique outlook on the world and are at a different cognitive stage than younger children. Regular family and peer group education, nursing crusades for drug understanding, community state seminars, media channel applications, and the development of a variety of adolescent-related health programs are necessary.


Moreover, health professionals providing care to adolescents in the community and hospital settings should make an effort to recognize the probability of drug use/abuse and the optimal intervention technique, which may, at times, involve consulting counselors (Winters et al., 2018). They play a crucial role in drug misuse prevention efforts. Hence many programs aimed at adolescents must involve parents. To prevent substance misuse, which damages adolescents, undermines their future achievement, and ruins a nation’s reputation on the global stage, it is essential to address the adverse effects of social media, inadequate parenting, and shortage of attention to the requirements of teenagers.

Teen drug addiction prevention should start with parents having regular conversations with their children about the dangers of substance misuse. Early prevention is critical, and discussing the risks of drug use with youngsters can set a firm foundation for lifelong abstinence. Because of this, parents may favorably affect their children’s conduct while teaching them to develop and stick to healthy limits and resist the influence of negative peers. As a bonus, preventative actions like these strengthen the parental authority and ties with their teenagers (Jackson et al., 2018). They may learn to be dependable leaders who can guide their children well for many years. Teens may be better able to trust their parents and make wise choices about their friends, behavior, influences, and hobbies if they have preventative conversations with them.

Social workers can employ either macro tactics, which entail broad-scale intervention and advocacy, or micro techniques, which focus on individuals’ immediate networks for problem-solving. Adolescents can reduce their risk of substance misuse through micro strategies such as parental supervision, open communication with parents about their child’s movements, and disclosing their drug usage. Additionally, parents and guardians can teach their children about the hazards of substance abuse. Adolescent substance misuse can be addressed on a macro level by teaching students about the risks associated with substance usage. Governments ban these substances to limit the number of young people abusing drugs (Nayyar et al., 2019). It is also possible to increase the cost of such medications beyond what most teenagers can pay. Furthermore, governments should focus on areas where drug use is prevalent.


Teens turn to substance misuse as a coping mechanism against the stress brought by societal shifts. In addition to having adverse effects on teens’ physical and mental health, this issue is of national importance because young people are ultimately responsible for a country’s progress and stability. Parents and school administrators must take strong measures to reduce drug usage in order to protect the next generation.


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Henke, R. M., Tehrani, A. B., Ali, M. M., Mutter, R., Mazer-Amirshahi, M., O’Brien, P. L., & Mark, T. L. (2018). Opioid prescribing to adolescents in the United States from 2005 to 2016. Psychiatric Services, 69(9), 1040–1043.

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Winters, K. C., Andria M. Botzet, Randy Stinchfield, Rachel Gonzales-Castaneda, Andrew J. Finch, Timothy F. Piehler, Kadie Ausherbauer, Kristen Chalmers & Anna Hemze (2018). Adolescent substance abuse treatment: A review of evidence-based research. Adolescent Substance Abuse, 141-171.

Zhai, Z. W., Duenas, G. L., Wampler, J., & Potenza, M. N. (2020). Gambling, substance use and violence in male and female adolescents. Journal of Gambling Studies, 36(4), 1301-1324.

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