The Epidemic of Teenagers Abusing Drugs Krystyn Romualdo COM/156 November 18, 2012 Jackie Hudspeth Jr The Epidemic of Teenagers Abusing Drugs To have known so many people that have struggled with drug addiction in their teenage years it has become very apparent what a vital time in one’s life it is to know the dangers of abusing drugs as a teenager. Even though not all teens abuse drugs, it is an epidemic in the United States because more teens are turning to drugs to escape or use out of boredom.
Take my younger brother for instance; he has struggled with drug addiction from the time he was a teenager into his early twenties. My brother Matthew started off smoking pot and drinking socially out of boredom. Then he found the drug crack cocaine to escape from reality as his world came crashing down around him. Once he found that drug he went overboard and started stealing electronics and pawning them for money to buy his drugs. From there he would also beg people for money and obtain it to get his fix. He would clean up for about a week at a time but would fall right back into it.
He would blast his music in his room while he was high on drugs. He would also disappear for days at a time while on a drug binge. After stealing everything in my mother’s house my mother finally committed him to a drug rehabilitation center. The first one failed. The second one failed. Matthew just could not get off the drugs. He to this day struggles with drug addiction, and he is now twenty four. However Matthew is just one of many with stories like these. Let us look at how many others are a part of this vicious cycle known as drug abuse among teens.
A lot of teenagers abuse drugs for a variety of reasons, stress from school, social acceptance or low self-esteem, self-medication, misinformation, and easy access to name several. Seventy three percent of teens of teens report the number one reason for using drugs is to deal with the pressures and stress of school. This was done by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (2010). They have to deal with the pressures of being socially accepted, what clothes they are wearing if they are “cool” and the overall stress of their schoolwork. Self-medication being nother reason teenagers use drugs is huge. One self-medicates to deal with all types of stress that they feel like they cannot cope with. There was a study conducted in 2009 that reported an estimated seventy percent of teens suffer from undiagnosed clinical depression perhaps at some point in their life. Depression is a leading cause and effect of why teens turn to drugs. Many teens are unaware that they have an underlying mental or mood disorder that is causing them to use illegal or prescription drugs to self-medicate and cope with their symptoms.
Teenagers abuse drugs due to misinformation with studies showing that many teenagers do not know the effects of drugs. Most teens do not see any major risk with abusing drugs. Forty one percent of teens mistakenly believe that it is safer to abuse a prescription drug over a street drug. Teens also abuse drugs for social acceptance. They want to be accepted by their peers so they do drugs just to be part of a group or clique. Another reason is low self-esteem. People who feel down on themselves are more likely to abuse drugs to feel better about themselves.
Easy access is one of the main reasons teenagers easily get addicted to drugs. Almost fifty percent of teenagers say it is easy for them to get marijuana; seventeen percent say it is easy to get methamphetamine; fourteen percent mention that it is easy obtain heroine and over fifty percent of teens say it is easy to get prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets. Let us explore how one teenager became addicted to drugs by going through the medicine cabinets of his own family. This teenager was a football star and had made more wins for his team than he can count.
But he started to have troubling pain in his hamstring. He decided at first to just walk it off instead of going to the doctor. This teenager walked it off until he could not endure it anymore. He remembered that his father had a surgery a while back. So he searched for the medication and found a prescription pill bottle that said Percocet on it. The bottle said to take every four to six hours for pain. Now Percocet is a strong painkiller that is highly addictive. This teenager was unaware of its high addiction level so he started to take them as directed.
When he ran out of those he found more prescription painkillers from his brother’s medicine cabinet because he had to win the big game. Once he found his brother’s medicine he had enough to last him to win the big and final game. He won the big game but afterwards he ran out of medicine. He started to get sick and began to experience hot and cold sweats and realized he was physically addicted to prescription drugs. He had to go through withdrawals to realize he was physically addicted to the drugs. But withdrawals are just one of many results of using or abusing drugs.
There are many bad outcomes to abusing drugs. Some teenagers just waste away their lives. Others hurt the ones they love by stealing from them or treating them horribly when they are coming down off their high. Some teens become very violent and out of control towards everyone around them. Some teens run away and disappear for life. Other teenagers get raped not even knowing it unless someone tells them what happened unless they were awake during the rape. A rising problem among teens and drug use is teen pregnancy.
Minimally, one million teenage girls become pregnant annually, reports the Women’s International Network News (1992). One study of youth in three urban areas found that between twenty nine and forty two percent of the girls studied reported being pregnant at least once before the age of seventeen (Huizinga, Loeber, & Thornberry, 1993). The effects of this has caused a decline in furthering education and an incline in single parenthood as most young men do not stay to support the child or even be there for the teenage girl during pregnancy let alone post-partum.
Another bad outcome is teenage violence. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to violence and victimization. They are at a high risk for interfamilial emotional, physical and sexual abuse (Strom, K. , Oguinick, C. M. , & Singer, M. I. Page 3, 1995). They experience twice the amount of violence adults do. Some of the violence includes theft, assault, and rape. On a ten point scale drug abuse was at an 8. 5 for teens being at a high risk (Stephens, G. Page 2, 2010). It is not all grim as there is hope. There are many resources to help teenagers overcome the use of drugs. One is in the schools.
Knowing that school drop outs and failure in school are contributors to drug use it is clear how critical it is to have an educational facility with competent, caring teachers working with parents and the community (Stephens, G. Page 3, 2010). However, most teens in this digital age, do better turning to campaigns such as Above the Influence and Under Your Own Influence. Under Your Own Influence was a campaign that started off in several schools and ran a campaign from 1992 to 1995. Above the Influence is a campaign that still continues today on a national level. Both were started to get kids to stay off marijuana but
Above the Influence has turned into a national campaign to stay off all drugs. Be Under Your Own Influence was found to reduce marijuana uptake in an earlier randomized community trial. It was re-branded as Above the Influence by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (Slater, M. , Kelly, K. , Lawrence, F. , Stanley, L. , & Comello, M. Page 1). Above the Influence not only serves as a television media campaign but has its own website with tons of information and help such as testimonials, ways to help a friend and interactive communications to keep kids off of drugs and above the influence of them.
Even though not all teens abuse drugs, it is an epidemic in the United States because more teens are turning to drugs to escape or use out of boredom. We have experienced my own personal account of knowing someone addicted to drugs. You have seen the numbers of how easy it is for teens to get drugs and why they abuse them. We have seen how prescription drug abuse comes about. We have explored some of the outcomes of drug abuse and what resources are available to help teens overcome or abstain from drug abuse. If you know a teenager abusing drugs, help them help themselves and get them the help that they need.
References (American Psychological Association). Strom, K. , Oguinick, C. M. , & Singer, M. I. (1995). What do Teenagers Want? What do Teenagers Need?. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 12 (5), 345-359. (American Psychological Association). Lindstrom, M. (2011). PAIN PILLS?. Odyssey 20(7), 30. (American Psychological Association). Stephens, G. (2010). Youth at Risk: A New Plan for Saving The World’s Most Precious Resource. Futurist, 44 (4), 16. (American Psychological Association). Johnson, A. O. , Mink, M. D. , Harun, N. , Moore, C. G. , Martin, A. B. Bennett, K. J. (2008). Violence and Drug Use in Rural Teens: National Prevalence Estimates from the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Journal of School Health, 78 (10), 554-561. doi:10. 1111/j. 1746-1561. 2008. 00343. x (American Psychological Association). Slater, M. , Kelly, K. , Lawrence, F. , Stanley, L. , & Comello, L. (2011). Assessing media campaigns linking marijuana non-use with autonomy and aspirations: “Be Under Your Own Influence” and ONDCP’s “Above the Influence”. Prevention Science: The Official Journal of The Society For Prevention Research, 12(1), 12-22.