The problem of drug abuse is an old one, and it is a global issue mainly affecting the younger population. Studies show that drug abuse is prevalent among teenagers, and it is reported that about one-sixth of the health problems in young males happen because of alcohol and drugs.It is even more painful to know that teenagers are more likely to die because of drug abuse. The teenage years are when a person is most vulnerable and wants to try out things and experiment out of interest. They may turn violent when controlled, and all these attributes can turn them towards drug abuse. Let’s look at the effects of drug abuse on teenagers and how it can be prevented.
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The dangers of drug abuse for teenagers
Drug abuse can affect teenagers in the worst way. The earlier someone starts drug abuse, the more significant the possibility of getting addicted. The abuse or addiction can lead to:
Decrease in performance
Teenagers who are abusing drugs may start to become absent from classes and other sports activities. Their grades may come down, and they may even fail examinations. It can lead to dropping out of school/college and spoiling their future.
Decline in health
Teenagers could show a decline in:
Physical health: Unexpected weight gain or loss may be seen in drug abuse cases in teenagers. Accidents and Injuries may also be frequent among such teenagers. They can even present with heart disease or blood pressure-related problems.
Mental health: Teenagers may present with symptoms of depression and agitation and become self-centred and restless or have suicidal thoughts.
Family issues: Teenagers with drug abuse can also bring problems to their families. Other family members also start getting affected by drug abuse, which can lead to broken families.
Social problems: It can cause a significant economic burden on families. As a result, these teens could become dissociated from society. The financial burden and emotional distress could become too much for the families.
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The warning signs of drug abuse in teenagers
Some of the warning signs of drug abuse in teenagers are:
- Behavioural changes: These teens may demonstrate new habits that are difficult to explain. They may depart from their usual routine.
- Lying and keeping secrets from parents
- Slurring of speech with poor communication skills
- A decline in grades and productivity
- Sudden unexplained outbursts of anger
- Demonstration of poor morals
- Inappropriate dressing and poor self-grooming; wearing clothes not suitable for the occasion or which are crumpled; untidy hair
- Quickly getting tired and constantly drowsy
- Neglecting self-hygiene
- Red eyes
- Possession of drug paraphernalia such as tin foil, smoking pipes, and vials
The impact of drug abuse on teenagers
Drug abuse in teenagers can have three main effects:
- Health: Drug abuse can significantly impact a teenager’s health. It can lead to various diseases like a rise in blood pressure, diabetes, heart-related problems, psychological problems, and behavioural changes. It can even lead to suicide attempts and death. If teenager indulges in unprotected sex, they can be at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, which they can send to others.
- Social: Drug abuse in teenagers could make them dangerous to society. Teenagers can take extreme steps if they get into a rage and even get into illegal activities like drug dealing and armed robberies, and they may even get involved in sexual crimes.
- Financial: The constant urge to have the next drug dose may lead teenagers to a stage where they are in shortage and need money. They need money to purchase drugs and for other activities. They usually finish all the money on drugs and then look for means to get more money from other sources.
How to prevent drug abuse in teenagers
Teenagers can be prevented from getting into the habit of drug abuse if parents:
- Please pay attention to their activities and watch for any behaviour changes. Teenagers can be encouraged to involve parents in activities where they can.
- Talk to them openly about the side effects of drug addiction. Discuss the beautiful things in life. Becoming a friend with teenagers will help the parent here. Giving them the confidence to share their feelings with their parents is essential.
- Talk to them and explain the effects and consequences of drug addiction. Advise them to avoid people and places with suspected drug use. Explain to them a sense of discipline in their routine.
- Go the extra step to know the teenager‘s friends and family background. Try to watch out for activities suggesting drug abuse in the friends.
- Keep a watch on all the prescription drugs present at home. Ensure that no prescription drugs are present in the house without a specific need and prescription.
- Support the teenager through success and failure. They should be encouraged and praised for their efforts if they face floss and should be advised to stay modest and grounded in success. This balanced approach will help them make the correct decisions in life and improve their judgment capabilities.
- Set an example by not indulging in any drug-related activity in front of them or even otherwise.
Teen drug abuse can be controlled if the will is shown and necessary action is taken. Parents, doctors, and educational institutions should be well-equipped with abilities to detect early signs of drug abuse in teenagers.Any activities at home that affect the teenager adversely or set a bad example can drive them towards drugs. Hence, these activities should be stopped. Teenagers should be supported if they are into drug abuse and encouraged to give it up for a better life and happiness.
- L. Kann et al., “Youth risk behaviour surveillance–United States, 2013,” MMWR Suppl., vol. 63, no. 4, pp. 1–168, 2014.
- S. Ali et al., “Early detection of illicit drug use in teenagers,” Innov. Clin. Neurosci., vol. 8, no. 12, pp. 24–28, 2011.
- I. Fatima, “Drug abuse among youth: Causes, effects and control,” Indexcopernicus.com. [Online]. Available: https://journals.indexcopernicus.com/api/file/viewByFileId/217480.pdf. [Accessed: 15-Mar-2023].