When adolescents engage in alcohol and other drug use, they, their families, and their communities usually suffer. In some cases, because of the strong association between substance abuse and delinquency, an increased burden is also placed on the juvenile justice system. However, the worst problem with substance abuse is the personal harm caused to the abuser by the abuser.
Adolescents who suffer from substance abuse are more likely to have declining grades, absenteeism from school and other activities, and increased potential for dropping out of school. Cognitive and behavioral problems experienced by alcohol- and drug-using adolescents may also interfere with their academic performance and also present obstacles to learning for their classmates.
An adolescent’s physical health is also greatly at risk from substance abuse because of injuries due to accidents, physical disabilities and diseases, and the potential and effects of possible overdoses. Disproportionate numbers of adolescents involved with alcohol and other drugs face an increased risk of death through suicide, homicide, accident, and illness.
Substance-abusing adolescents often are alienated from and stigmatized by their peers. The abuse of alcohol and other drugs by adolescents can also result in family crises and jeopardize many aspects of family life, sometimes resulting in family dysfunction. This causes increased burdens on families, friends, and the community in the support of adolescents who are not able to become self-supporting because of their addiction.
Juvenile delinquency is undeniably linked to substance abuse. Arrest, adjudication, and intervention by the juvenile justice system are eventual consequences for many adolescents engaged in alcohol and other drug use. Substance abusers are most commonly associated with violent or income-generating crimes. Gangs, drug trafficking, prostitution, and growing numbers of youth homicides are among the social and criminal justice problems often linked to adolescent substance abuse.
Drug Guide for Parents: Learn the Facts to Keep Your Teen Safe
This guide serves to help parents identify drugs that their children may be abusing. The chart lists the most common substances by their street and commercial names, appearance, how it’s consumed, why the drug is dangerous, signs of abuse, etc. Download the guide.
“Incidence of Drug Problems in Young Adults Exposed to Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” by Philip L. Reed, James C. Anthony, and Naomi Breslau, Archives of General Psychiatry (2007)
CONTEXT: Most estimated associations of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with DSM-IV drug dependence and abuse are from cross-sectional studies or from prospective studies of adults that generally do not take into account suspected causal determinants measured in early childhood.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate risk for incident drug disorders associated with prior DSM-IV PTSD.
DESIGN: Multiwave longitudinal study of an epidemiologic sample of young adults first assessed at entry to first grade of primary school in the fall semesters of 1985 and 1986, with 2 young adult follow-up assessments.
SETTING: Mid-Atlantic US urban community.
PARTICIPANTS: Young adults (n = 988; aged 19-24 years) free of clinical features of DSM-IV drug use disorders at the first young adult assessment and therefore at risk for newly incident drug use disorders during the 1-year follow-up period.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: During the 12-month interval between the 2 young adult follow-up assessments, newly incident (1) DSM-IV drug abuse or dependence; (2) DSM-IV drug abuse; (3) DSM-IV drug dependence; and (4) emerging dependence problems (1 or 2 newly incident clinical features of DSM-IV drug dependence), among subjects with no prior clinical features of drug use disorders.
RESULTS: Prior PTSD (but not trauma only) was associated with excess risk for drug abuse or dependence (adjusted relative risk, 4.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-15.2) and emerging dependence problems (adjusted relative risk, 4.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-20.1) compared with the no-trauma group controlling for childhood factors. Subjects with PTSD also had a greater adjusted relative risk for drug abuse or dependence compared with subjects exposed to trauma only (adjusted relative risk, 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-3.8) controlling for childhood factors.
CONCLUSIONS: Association of PTSD with subsequent incident drug use disorders remained substantial after statistical adjustment for early life experiences and predispositions reported in previous studies as carrying elevated risk for both disorders. Posttraumatic stress disorder might be a causal determinant of drug use disorders, possibly representing complications such as attempts to self-medicate troubling trauma-associated memories, nightmares, or painful hyperarousal symptoms. Read the full article.