Teenage Drug Abuse

Teenage drug use is an increasing problem among teenagers in today's high schools. Most drug use begins in the pre-teen and teenage years, the years most crucial in the maturation process. During these years adolescents are faced with difficult tasks of discovering their self identity, clarifying their sexual roles, asserting independence, learning to cope with authority and searching for goals that would give their lives meaning. Drugs are readily accessible, adolescents are curious and vulnerable, and there is peer pressure to experiment, with the temptation to escape from conflicts.

The use of drugs by teenagers is the result of a combination of factors such as peer pressure, curiosity, and availability. Drug addiction among adolescents, in turn, leads to depression and suicide. One of the major factors in teenage drug usage is peer pressure. Peer pressure represents social influences that affect adolescents and can have a positive or a negative effect, depending on the person's social group. We are greatly influenced by the people around us.

In today's schools drugs are very common; peer pressure usually is the reason for their usage. If the people in your social group use drugs, there will be direct or indirect pressure from them. A person may be offered to try drugs, which is direct pressure. Indirect pressure is when someone sees everyone around him using drugs and might think there is nothing wrong with this. Someone might try drugs just to fit in. Even if a person had no intention of using drugs, they might do it just to be considered "cool" by his friends. Today drugs are considered to be an acceptable social phenomenon by many teenagers.


Personal Example

Here is a personal example of drug use from a teenager: "When I started using, it was only on weekends, at parties. I used drugs 'recreationally' and therefore thought I had no addiction problem. I used drugs like nicotine, marijuana or LSD to be happy or to have fun. I needed drugs. I kept using drugs; I used drugs like marijuana to fit socially. I had problems in my life, emotionally, that drugs only seemed to solve. Drugs made my problems worse. I started snorting cocaine. I injected heroin into my veins. I almost died. I was addicted."

In today's high schools the availability and variety of drugs is widespread. There is a demand for drugs -- and the supply is plentiful. Since drugs are so easily accessible, a natural interest in them may develop. A person may hear about drug experiences, or reactions of drug usage, such as, "Hey! The weed that he sold us was cool. I got stoned, man". This response will create a sense of curiosity and may convince the person to try drugs themselves. Many teenagers today believe that the first use of drugs is safe. However, even though there is no instant addiction with the first try, youngsters tend to experiment further. Soon a person could actively seek the euphoric effects of drugs. Drug addiction is the result of intense preoccupation with the dicer to experience the mental and bodily changes from drugs. The final, and most disastrous, stage is when a person needs drugs in order to function adequately. Therefore, availability, curiosity and experimentation could result in drug addiction among teenagers.

One of the most devastating side effects of drug addiction and abuse is depression. Depression is the result of chemical imbalance, environmental influence, or a combination of both. Using heavy and very highly-addictive drugs like heroin, cocaine, opium and many others will cause sudden mood changes, deterioration of the immune system, nervous breakdowns, unusual flares of temper and many other side effects. Besides physical side effects, drug addiction can create problems in a person's social circles. The person may run into many conflicts with his family and friends, resulting in a desire for isolation. This in turn will create more problems since the person will have no social support. Furthermore, drug addiction is a financial strain, especially for teenagers. When a person is addicted to drugs he will do anything to obtain money to fulfill his needs.

According to previous studies, drug addiction is the result of the three "I's". Teenagers may think of their problem as Inescapable, Interminable and Intolerable. Life may seem bleak and miserable. Seeing no way out, feeling lonely with no prospects for improvement leads to depression, which can further lead to attempted suicide. Many studies have found that drugs are a contributing factor to suicide. Using drugs may reduce inhibitions and impair judgemnt, and suicide is a possibility. As one statistic illustrates, 70% of all young people who attempted suicide used drugs. Illegal drugs -- for example, weed, speed, acid, or ecstasy -- have always been a problem among the younger folks. The problem gets even more serious if it involves additive substances such as cocaine.


Ecstasy

The most commonly-seen illegal drug around teens in BC is Ecstasy, also known as "E". E's are usually involved in rave parties; people take E's and dance all night. The academic name for E is hallucinogenic stimulant. It generally affects the concentration of the brain, and it can change one's mood, sleep, sexual behavior, body temperature, and appetite. The sensations of sight, sound, and touch are enhanced. That's why it's usually used at discos and parties. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to "get high" and about three to four hours to wear off. Side effects include heart and blood pressure problems, blurred vision, chills and sweating. The tablet changes every week and counterfeits are always around. It is illegal to buy, sell, produce, or possess any amount of E.


LSD

Another popular drug is LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamid), which is similar to E. It alters a person's perception of sights, sounds, and touch, etc. A person that has taken LSD might see or hear things that don't exist. Known as "acid," this drug is extremely powerful -- one teaspoon can contain up to 25,000 doses. Only 200 micrograms is needed for one “trip.” The danger of LSD is that the effect of LSD is extremely unpredictable since it depends on a person's physical conditions and also his/her mood. About one hour after taking LSD it will start to take effect. The user will see or feel things that don't exist, images may be altered -- for example, small objects may look huge -- and users also have mysterious experiences, such as seeing ghosts or religious objects. The consequences of taking LSD are severe physical side effects include violent and hazardous behavior. LSD develops tolerance quickly, so frequent users have to eventually increase dosage.

Marijuana


Another popular drug is marijuana, or weed. It's usually imported from Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean, but homegrown weed is becoming more and more popular because of the sophistication of growing equipment. The most common effects are talkativeness, cheerfulness, relaxation, and greater appreciation of sound and color. It's been said that smoking weed improves performance of creative works such as arts or writing. It also makes touch, hearing and sight very sensitive. Some immediate physical effects of weed use include a faster heartbeat and pulse rate, bloodshot eyes, and dry throat. The drug can impair or reduce short-term memory, alter sense of time and reduce the ability to do things that require concentration, quick reactions, and effective co-ordination. A common negative reaction to marijuana is an acute anxiety attack. People describe this reaction as an extreme fear of "losing control," which causes panic.