Drug Abuse among Teenagers Causes and Effects


Drug and substance abuse amongst teenagers is a global menace. Millions of youths are seriously engaging in drug and substance abuse posing a threat to the future generation. Youths across the world have now tested all kinds of drugs including cigarettes and alcohol to hard drugs like cocaine, cannabis, and heroin (Newcomb, Scheier, and Bentler 230).

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The rates of drug abuse have been increasing over the decades. World drug report estimates indicate “Over 153 million and 300 million people aged 15-64 of the world’s population have consumed illicit drugs” (United Nations Office on Drug and Crime 48). Several organizations and initiatives have emphasized on this issue and tried to put strategies to handle it. Drug abuse among youths and teenagers has been eminent in almost all countries in the world cutting across developed countries to developing countries including famous countries and states like the US, Germany, and China.

According to Newcomb, Scheier, and Bentler (215), some of the commonly abused drugs by adolescents include alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, and cocaine. Youths have been doing drugs and thus creating serious addiction that further interferes with their personal as well as affecting people close to them. Despite acknowledging the adverse effects of drug abuse, youths have continuously kept on abusing drugs. Therefore, this essay seeks to identify major causes and effects related to drug misuse in teenagers.

Causes of Drug Abuse

There are numerous causes of drug abuse identified and tested empirically, viz. peer pressure, parental influence, and socio-economic aspects among others. Beginning with peer pressure, several studies have examined how peer pressure is a contributing factor in teenage drug abuse. Conventionally, individuals in most cases are normally defined with what happens within their environment. Most youths like associating themselves with groups commonly known as peer groups.

The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime indicates, “Most people obtain their first dose of illicit drugs from a friend, family member, or romantic partner” (91). In this context, a small number of drug users in a group will probably influence the rest of the members into consuming drugs. In most cases, human beings are greatly influenced by the living environment in which they spend most of their time. Peer groups develop within one’s immediate environment and in youth schools, neighborhoods and social clubs tend to influence the formation of peer groups.

Family structure and family behavior influence personal attributes. Most modern families tend to adopt elegant living styles influenced by westernization. A family living with traditional manners is mostly associated with naivety. In this modern world, cultural values have eroded consequently leading to a decline in social norms.

Bahr, Hoffman, and Yang observed social theories and concluded that family and peer relationships are important in examining causes of drug abuse, since they play significant roles in determining the attitudes and behaviors of individuals (530). In fact, with the increasing migration and urbanization rates, strong traditional family ties are gradually corroding and the traditional value systems are losing their importance in the modernized world. Most parents are nowadays spotted drinking alcohol and openly using drugs in the presence of their children. Squeezed urban centers also force this association.

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Socio-economic status is another denotative cause of drug abuse. Globally, population rates are growing at alarming rates with several economical challenges experienced. Unemployment is one of the major influential factors for drug trafficking and illicit drug abuse. Due to the existing situation of unemployment across the globe, especially in developing countries, people are looking for alternative means of survival (United Nations Office on Drug and Crime 87-88).

As a result, individuals end up engaging in drug trafficking businesses thus reducing the gap between international barons and local drug vendors and consequently making the drugs easily accessible to teenagers. The high rates of unemployment amongst youths have consequently compelled them to engage in drug trafficking and illicit drug abuse.

However, unemployment is not the only socio-economic factor that pushes teenagers and youths into drug abuse and addiction. Others include inequalities in earnings and disposal funds given to youths in developed countries, which influence drug abuse in most youngsters. The funds given to young people are a catalyst for drug abuse and addiction if not used appropriately with due responsibility. On inequality in earnings, people earning meager salaries may be tempted to engage in drug trafficking as aforementioned.

Effects of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse is a dangerous activity that is associated with several devastating repercussions. People accustomed to drug abuse suffer numerous side effects ranging from psychological to social consequences. In terms of health, drug abuse leads to psychological disorders. Newcomb, Scheier, and Bentler posit, “Mental health problems are often observed in among drug abusers” (215). The psychological impacts of drug abuse can appear immediately or even later in the abuser’s life. Clinically examined there is a great relationship between drug abuse and psychopathology.

Clinical evidence indicates that intense drug use has psychopathology effects before, during, and even after getting treatment and undergoing rehabilitation (Newcomb, Scheier, and Bentler 215). Since the adolescent stage is a crucial phase in human development, drug abuse amongst youths and teenagers consequently results in mental disorders including posttraumatic disorders and emotional syndromes among others. These disorders affect personal development and growth and can result in adverse long-term negative effects on their adult life.

Drug abuse has on numerous occasions associated with the spread of the most threatening infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. According to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, “of the estimated 16 million people who inject drugs, about 3 million are living with HIV” (16). People have found themselves contacting the deadly disease while under the influence of drugs. Apart from acquiring infectious diseases while a person is under influence, drug abuse involves the sharing of personal items.

According to a recent world report, “Injecting drugs carries a high risk of infection with blood-borne viruses such as HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B, and the sharing of contaminated needles and syringes is an important mode of transmission for those viruses” (United Nations Office on Drug and Crime 15). On several occasions, doctors and physicians have identified drug abuse as one of the major causes of the spread of infectious diseases. Drug abuse generally leads to careless living thus forcing individuals to engage in other dangerous activities including unprotected sex, prostitution, crime and violence, which increase the risk of HIV infection.

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Globally, drug abuse has influenced drug related deaths amongst youths, popularly known as premature deaths. Drug abuse has been the major cause of deaths that result from accidents that occur when youths are driving, or even having fun. Main accidental deaths relating to drug abuse include suicidal cases, road accidents resulting from driving under the influence of drugs, murder cases, unintentional overdose, unintended infections, and even trauma (United Nations Office on Drug and Crime16).

Youths involved in drug abuse tend to gain the confidence to engage in life-threatening activities because of the effect of hallucinations caused by drug consumption. According to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, the world drug report estimates that, globally, between 99,000 to 253,000 deaths resulting from accidents in the year 2010 resulted from drug abuse (16). It is very traumatizing to identify that of these deaths, over 77.9 cases of such deaths were people aged between 15-64 years, youths inclusive.


Drug abuse among youth is definitely a global predicament. Several factors have influenced teenagers to engage in drug abuse. Peer pressure is a contributing factor towards teenage drug abuse with those used to drug abuse influencing others into it. Family structure and family behavior influences drug abuse since most parents have adopted western culture leading to erosion of social norms, which are important in shaping youth behaviors. Globalization and rural-urban migration have been contributing to this predicament.

Socio-economic factors including unemployment have influenced drug abuse among youngsters, with several unemployed citizens finding possible ways of surviving. Unemployment leads to individuals engaging themselves in drug abuse and trafficking. Drugs abuse results in several negative consequences. Such repercussions may include psychopathology disorder, posttraumatic disorders, increased risks of HIV/AIDS infection and even an increase in death-related accidents. Drug abuse is still the most challenging thing and may remain troublesome if the relevant authorities will not put stringent measures to arrest the situation.

Works Cited

Bahr, Stephen, John Hoffmann, and Xiaoyan Yang. “Parental and Peer Influences On the Risk of Adolescent Drug Use.” Journal of Primary Prevention 26.6 (2005): 529-550. Print.

Newcomb, Michael, Lawrence Scheier, and Pauline Bentler. “Effects of Adolescent Drug Use on Adult Mental Health: A prospective Health Study of a community Sample.” Journal of American Psychological Association 1.4 (1993): 215 241. Print.

United Nations Office on Drug and Crime. World Drug Report United Nations. New York: United Nations Publications, 2012. Print.

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