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Teenage Substance Abuse Jaime Corral University of Texas at El Paso English 1311 Jennifer Falcon

Running Head: TEENAGE SUBSTANCE ABUSE Teenage Substance Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse has been a severe problem to the Nation for quite some time. Substance abuse is often overlooked by some people as a minor problem but they do not realize the harm substance abuse has on people, especially on teenagers. Whether it is drugs or alcohol, substance abuse can create many problems such as depression, anxiety, brain damage, and can even lead to death. Drug and alcohol prevention is a critical component in the nations effort to reduce substance abuse, particularly among teenagers. Despite the efforts the overall result has been ineffective and unfortunately it is still a severe problem. The only way to effectively suppress substance abuse is to create prevention programs to change behaviors and reinforce positive behaviors which lead to the rejection of drugs. The only way these prevention programs will work is with the joint effort of the prevention organizations, the abusers, and their siblings are willing to support them and help them get through the process. History of Drugs and Alcohol Understanding the history and background behind drugs and alcohol is essential in knowing and comprehending why substance abuse in teens is such a critical problem. It is uncertain when drugs were first discovered but they date back to the earliest parts of human civilization (Walton, 2011). Drugs started being used more commonly during the 19th century, after the founding of the first English colony at Jamestown in 1607. They were used for medical purposes to treat the ill and at the time they were not viewed as bad substances. It was not until the 1960s that drugs became an epidemic. During this time, many people were abusing drugs and in 1973 the government developed new laws and agencies to address the problem but all it did was spread the problem even more.


In todays society, there are many types of drugs but the most common drugs abused by teens are marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and synthetic cannabinoids, which are also referred to as spice. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012). These drugs can be very dangerous because they can lead to very potential risk factors. Marijuana, the most common abused drug, impairs short term memory and learning, the ability to focus, and coordination. It also increases heart rate, harmful for the lungs, and may increase the risk of psychosis. Cocaine is a short- acting stimulant, which can lead to taking the drug multiple times during one session. It is also very addicting and can lead to several medical consequences related to the heart, respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. Heroin is a powerful drug that produces feelings of relaxation and slows respiration and can increase the risk of serious infectious diseases. All these drugs lead to some type of negative effect.

Figure 1. The graph above shows the percentage of students in High School who have used illegal substances. This is a significant amount of teens who or are currently using drugs, which is why

Running Head: TEENAGE SUBSTANCE ABUSE It is such a critical issue to the Nation.

Alcohol abuse is very common within teens and has a major contribution to the problem of substance abuse. It is unsure the exact date of when alcohol was invented but some experts say that alcohol was discovered thousands and thousands of years ago, likely around 10,000 B.C(National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012). Alcohol consumption became such a major problem with violence during the 20th century that they created a law that banned the manufacture and consumption of alcohol and was known as the Prohibition. This only worked to a certain extent. People began making their own alcohol which only created more problems. People began producing alcohol in their homes and began selling them through a vast network of speakeasies. As the popularity of these clubs grew, alcohol began to be more associated with a young crowd and experts began to realize that the Prohibition was ineffective in suppressing the consumption of alcohol. As a result, lawmakers repealed Prohibition in 1933. Today, alcohol abuse in teens has increased significantly and researchers say the average age of teens who try it for the first time is at age 14. (Cigna, 2011).

Figure 2. The figure above supports the previous statement of the average age of when teens had their first drink. This shows how teens as young as the age of 12 are being exposed to alcohol at a very young age. Alcohol can arise problems such as high blood pressure, weight gain,


Weaken the immune system, liver disease problems and can even increase the risk of getting cancer. (Cigna, 2011). Drug abuse and alcohol abuse both lead to negative consequences which is why there should be a stop to substance abuse. Prevention Program Initiative Substance abuse by teens is a severe issue and is on the rise. The only effective way of stopping it, is by a joint effort between the Government, the community, and the abusers themselves. The current clinics the Government provides to help abusers are really outdated programs that really dont do anything at all. Most prevention programs will use really weak techniques such as asking the patient if they know whats right and whats wrong. All this really does is make they feel like they are not intelligent. The only way substance abuse is going to go away is by getting rid of that old system and bringing in new techniques.(Cigna, 2011). A new effective method would be reducing the dose of their addiction day by day and slowly diminishing the addiction. This quote creates a sense of urgency and is really questions why the Government still uses the old techniques in there programs. The community also has a big role to play if they want to stop the problem. The community could include family members related to the teen abuser, neighbors or even just someone who spots an abuser during the act. It is important for the community to take action so that teens can get the professional help they need. It is important for parents to talk to their teens about their views towards drugs and alcohol and try to explain to them why they should avoid it. If a parent catches their child abusing substances, they should immediately speak to them about it

and try to be as supportive as possible. Then they should be taken to receive medical help by a professional. Running Head: TEENAGE SUBSTANCE ABUSE 6

The most important part of the prevention process is the teen who is under substance abuse. Teens need to realize and accept the fact that what they are doing is wrong and they must also be willing to receive medical help. Each person is different and may need different type of medication which why it is so important to receive help by a doctor. Behavioral therapies which include individual, family, or group are also a good method to stop drug abuse because they help build resistance skills with substances. Conclusion The proposed prevention strategy for teenage substance abuse has to take several steps before it can be successful. It will take the connection and cooperation between the community, the Government programs, and the teens under substance abuse. The only way this plan will be successful is for people, especially parents, must take this issue serious and take action quickly and speak to their children about drugs and alcohol at an early age. Increased awareness of the risk factors that substance abuse creates can help in the aiding desire for a drug free community. With more community involvement, support, and concern, these plans teenage substance abuse will be more effective.

Running Head: TEENAGE SUBSTANCE ABUSE References Cigna. (2011). Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Retrieved from Walton, H. (2011, November 17th). How Alcohol and Drug Abuse Affects Family Members. First Step Services. Retrieved September 30, 2013 Richardson. B. (2012, December 11th). Alcohol and Drug Information. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved September 30, 2013. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (December, 2012). Past Year Use of Illicit Drugs by High School Seniors. [Graph]. Retrieved from Feliz, J. (April, 2011). Age at Which Teens Who Reported Drinking Had Their First Alcoholic Drink. [Graph]. Retrieved from