Juvenile Drug Use and the Consequences
July 6, 2012
Drug Use and the Consequences
The fact that juveniles use drugs and engage in delinquent behavior does not surprise me at all. I was one of those youths that used drugs, committed crimes, and had unprotected sex. And like so many juveniles, I was unaware of the short- and long-term costs that my problem behaviors would have. My problem behaviors, which began as a young child, remained in my life well into my thirties. One explanation for this could be linked to Problem Behavior Syndrome (PBS). PBS is defined as group of antisocial behaviors that include substance abuse, family dysfunction, and precocious sexuality. These antisocial behaviors account for between 30% and 50% of delinquency among juveniles CITATION Jes08 l 1033 (Jessor, 2008). While people are still asking why juveniles use drugs and engage in activities that result in significant problems; I am more concerned with the negative effects that drug use has on juveniles such as, the emotional problems, addiction, and the development of dependency.
Drug use can cause significant emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. In fact, among juveniles with depression, 34.6% report using drugsCITATION SAM10 l 1033 (SAMHSA, 2006). Juveniles that use drugs already suffer from emotional problems; increased severity of these emotional problems, or increase their risks of developing emotional problems. For example, juveniles that use marijuana on a regular basis actually double their risk of depression and anxiety CITATION Off08 p 8 l 1033 (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2008, p. 8). I used drugs and alcohol to reduce feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. It is interesting to note that almost half of all drug users are diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), which is defined as an existing pattern of disregard for others CITATION Sie11 p 263 l 1033 (Siegel & Welsh, 2011, p. 263). I am not certain that the anxiety and depression that I have lived with most of my life was the result of drug use or genetic factors. It’s like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg.
Juveniles that use drugs and alcohol on a regular basis are at an increased risk of developing addictions. A vast majority of juveniles will experiment with drugs and alcohol, but most do not become addicted. Those that do become addicted will struggle for many years; treatment programs refer to these individuals as being perpetually “in recovery” CITATION Sha09 p 241 l 1033 (Shatkin, 2009, p. 241). In order for juveniles to fund their addictions they must begin to engage in more and more delinquent acts. A study done in Miami, FL reported that 573 drug users commit more than 200,000 crimes per year CITATION Sie11 p 266 l 1033 (Siegel ; Welsh, 2011, p. 266). Juveniles are more apt to engage in violence once they have become addicted. This is often the result of lowered inhibitions and the need for cash. There are only a few ways in which a juvenile will get help for his or her addiction: seeking treatment on their own, being sentenced to prison, or death. According to a recent report released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, 1.9 million of 2.4 million juveniles that were arrested had substance abuse problems and of those 1.9 million only 68,600 juveniles received proper treatment CITATION Mos10 l 1033 (Most Juvenile Offenders Use Drugs, Alcohol, 2010). Addiction is a trap within a trap; it ensnares everyone connected with the addict until proper treatment is found.
The younger a juvenile starts using drugs and alcohol, the greater their risk is of developing dependency. In fact, more than 95% of juveniles who are dependent on alcohol or drugs started using before their 20th birthday CITATION SAM11 l 1033 (SAMA e-News, 2011). The development of dependency does not happen overnight. The stages a person progresses through on the way to dependency are:
Repeated harmful activities: activities that a person does that hurts themselves, moves them away from their goals, and they do it anyway. This is also the hallmark of an addictive process.
Risks to relationships: an individual begins to risk marital relationships, family relationships, and their job.
Denial: the individual denies that the substance abuse is causing problems in their life.
Failure to stop: repeated attempts to stop the behavior and repeated failures with each attempt.
Developed tolerance: the individual develops tolerance and needs more and more of the substance.
Increased Intensity: There’s a graduation from one form of drug to a more intense drug. For example, alcohol use is often the gateway to marijuana use.
Withdrawal reaction: the individual develops withdrawal so that when they stop using a negative reaction results. An individual can often go into panic mode.
Dependency: the brain may actually become to believe that the individual also needs the drug so that when he doesn’t have the drug he experiences symptoms similar to what he goes through when deprived of sleep, or water, or food. In so many cases the individual who begins using drugs and alcohol develops a literal dependency on it.
While people still wonder why juveniles use drugs and engage in activities that only result in problems; I am concerned with the consequences that drug use has such as, emotional problems, addiction, and the development of dependency. Juveniles do not fully understand the consequences that drug use and delinquency will have later in life. They are risking everything and do not even realize it. After all, I became dependent on several substances, lost my family, job, marriage, and was sent to prison for three and a half years.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Most Juvenile Offenders Use Drugs, Alcohol. (2010, November 13). Retrieved July 6, 2012, from Alcoholism: http://alcoholism.about.com/od/teens/a/blcasa041007.htm
SAMA e-News. (2011). Retrieved July 6, 2012, from SAMA Foundation: sama.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?em_id=2521.0
Jessor, R. (2008, November). Problem-Behavior Theory ~ A Brief Overview. Retrieved July 27, 2012, from University of Colorado at Boulder: http://www.colorado.edu/ibs/jessor/pb_theory.html
Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2008). Teen Marijuana Use Worsens Depression. Executive Office of the President. Retrieved July 6, 2012, from http://www.theantidrug.com/pdfs/teen-marijuana-depression-report.pdf
SAMHSA. (2006). Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Retrieved July 6, 2012, from Office of Applied Studies: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/nsduh/2k6nsduh/2k6results.pdf
Shatkin, J. P. (2009). Treating Child ; Adolescent Mental Illness. New York – London: W. W. Norton ; Company. Retrieved July 6, 2012
Siegel, L. J., ; Welsh, B. C. (2011). Juvenile Delinquency: The Core. Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.