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There are various drugs which are abused by teenagers and adults. Most of these are addictive and have adverse health effects to users. The common drugs of choice are alcohol, cigarettes, speed, prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Alcohol is the most abused drug, and it inhibits judgment among users (Stimson 34-48). Long term use leads to liver and kidney failure. Tobacco, or cigarettes are one of the most addictive drugs and their long term use leads to development of cancer, impotency, lung collapse and others. Cocaine and heroine are drugs which are injected, smoked or taken orally. They are very addictive and they distort reality among users. Long term use may lead to heart problems, mental disorders and high blood pressure. Sharing of needles may transmit STDs while drug overdose may be fatal. Marijuana is another common drug abused and it distorts reality among users. Long term use may lead to mental damage, and some researchers have linked it to development of schizophrenia. Prescription drugs are also commonly abused by the old and young alike. Although done innocently, these drugs may cause sudden death due to overdose or fatal combination of drugs, as has been witnessed among many celebrities who have died early due to use of prescription drugs (Isralowitz 122-123).
Causes of drug abuse
There are various causes of drug abuse. Drug abuse can be blamed on parents, friends, individuals and society at large. These causes will be briefly discussed to show how everyone is responsible for the problem of drug abuse.
Lack of parental supervision
Parents have an important role in their child’s upbringing. They serve an important purpose of instilling values in their children through socialization at early age. Parents should ensure that their children are morally upright and that they do not engage in social vices. However, in the modern world, parents have put professional lives ahead of their families and delegated the role of raising children to nannies and teachers. As a result, the children do not acquire much needed guidance on life’s issues, and many end up taking drugs through peer influence. Lack of supervision from parents, who pursue their careers at the expense of their families, can therefore be blamed for the high number of drug abuse cases among teenagers. Parents should supervise their children at all times to avoid negative influence from peers.
Poor communication between parents and teens
Lack of communication between children and parents, especially during teenage years is also another causality of drug use. Many teenagers are unable to effectively communicate with their parents since neither group understands the other’s needs. Parents appear too harsh to teenagers while teenagers appear to demanding to parents. When parents and teenagers are unable to effectively communicate about issues teenagers face, teenagers are left to seek advice from peers, who may influence them to take drugs. Parents should understand children’s needs and vice verse, if drug abuse is to be eliminated.
Mental & Physical abuse
Domestic violence and abuse has been one of the most common triggers of drug abuse. When people are emotionally or physically abused, and they do not seek help, they may engage in drugs to forget their problems. Since most abuse cases are perpetrated by close family members, this makes it harder for victims to overcome, and many opt to try out drugs, which they perceive will distort reality and make them forget their concerns (United States Department of Justice Website 2000). Drugs of choice in such circumstances include alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. However, victims are unaware that use of drugs increases their problems since it leads to addiction, which needs to be treated. Publicizing abuse, passing tough laws and offering free help to victims will help reduce abuse cases and thereby reduce drug use cases.
Media influence is a major causality of drug abuse, especially regarding drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. The media makes it appear “cool” to use such drugs through flashy advertisements in the media. However, less emphasis is placed on adverse effects of such drugs; hence teenagers are influenced to use them without enough information on repercussions faced due to drug use. This leads to addiction, and by the time victims realize, they cannot do without drugs. This influence from media can be stemmed through use of warning labels and bans on certain forms of drug advertising which targets the youth.
There are various symptoms and warning signs which are associated with drug use. These symptoms vary according to drugs used, genetic make up of users, quantity used, personality and other aspects. It is important to note that presence of a particular symptom does not automatically means that the individual abuses drugs, rather that it shows that further investigation should be done to ascertain drug use by the individual. Some of these signs are discussed below;
Sudden drop of grades without clear reasons may indicate drug use. This may be linked to missing of classes when taking drugs, or harmful effects of drugs which affect the brain and cause poor academic performance. This behavior is usually accompanied by disrespect for school authorities and fellow students.
Missing curfews without adequate explanation of one’s whereabouts may also indicate drug use. When teenagers are unable to explain their movements, this shows that they are secretive, and drug use may explain this situation. However, teenagers’ movements should be established before accusing them of drug use.
Disrespectful to parents
Drug users are usually disrespectful to other people. This is due to the label which society gives them of “drug addicts”, which makes them harbor hatred towards society. Teenagers who use drugs are unable to explain their “odd” behavior to parents and much resort to disrespect as a means of covering up drug use (Giannini 69-73). Others are influenced by drugs to make irrational choices leading to disrespect of family, friends and the community.
Stealing & lying
Stealing is a common trait amongst drug users and it emanates from the need to purchase drugs. Drugs are expensive to purchase and drug users may be forced to steal from family and friends to maintain the vice. When questioned about it, they are likely to lie about it. This makes it a symptom of drug abuse, and parents should be careful to note such behavior from their children.
Who to blame
Various discussions have centered on who is to blame for the problem of drug abuse. However, there is consensus that everyone is to blame for the problem. Parents have neglected their children and left nannies and teachers to raise them, as they pursue professional goals. Teachers have also neglected students since they focus on academic curriculum at the expense of social development. The society has tolerated drug abuse and perceived it as “normal” behavior without taking action against drug users (Roleff 39-44). This has left adolescents to seek advice from peers, who may influence them to abuse drugs. Teachers and parents ought to give attention to teenagers and advice them on harmful effects of drug use. The society should also condemn and punish drug users, since this will deter them from practicing the same.
There are many risks which are involved in drug use. These risks affect the health of the user, their relationships with family, society and friends, and their ability to achieve full potential in later life. In addition to this, some risks may be potentially fatal to users. Risks associated with drug abuse include addiction, health problems, transmission of STDs, accidents, mental disorders and problems with law enforcers. These risks will be discussed below in more detail;
Most drugs are addictive to users. The degree of addiction varies according to several factors including specific drug used, genetic make up of user, quantities used and other factors. However, since most drugs are addictive, users become dependent on the drugs for performance of everyday activities. Drug addiction is the most harmful effect of drugs since it ensures that users are unable to quit drugs, and instead use more quantities of drugs to achieve the state of intoxication over time. Some of the most addictive drugs include cocaine, heroine and tobacco. However, other drugs such as alcohol, prescription drugs and marijuana are also addictive and may make users dependent on them. This makes it expensive to sustain abuse, and users may use illegal means of getting money to satisfy the addiction. Drug manufacturers use the aspect of addiction to ensure they have a steady supply of cash from addicts.
Many drugs affect the ability to make reasonable judgments by users. Some drugs, especially alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and other hard drugs interfere with decision making abilities of users and may allow them to engage in irresponsible sexual behavior. This behavior may lead to transmission of STDs among people who engage in this behavior after drug abuse. In addiction, users who share needles when injecting themselves may acquire STDs as a result. Some STDs such as HIV are incurable and developing them leads to fatalities after a period of time. Others which are curable are expensive to treat, which leads to financial burdens on families of such drug users.
Several health problems are linked to drug use. In fact, all drugs have a side effect or health problem associated with it. Drugs such as alcohol lead to kidney and liver failure while others such as tobacco may lead to development of cancer or lung damage (Learn about alcoholism website 2009). Hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin may lead to high blood pressure and heart problems. As earlier stated, sharing of needles may transmit STDs. It is clear that all drugs have adverse health repercussions. This leads to high medical costs to victims, and these problems may also lead to fatalities. This is an economic cost to families and governments around the world. Drug overdose may lead to instant death to users.
There are various drugs which may lead to the development of mental disorders amongst users. These drugs adversely affect the brain leading to distortion of reality, leading to mental disorders. Drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and others have been known to cause psychosis and illusions, which may develop into mental disorders. People with such disorders may perform unreasonable acts as they perceive themselves as normal and the rest as abnormal. These disorders are expensive to treat, and may at times be incurable to victims.
Many accidents are caused by drivers or pedestrians who have taken drugs. Alcohol is the most common drug linked to accidents, although others also lead to accidents in our roads. In the US, over 37,000 people died as a result of accidents caused by drink-driving, while this figure exceeded 41,000 in the previous year. These figures show the severity of the matter. This is a matter of great concern especially when sober drivers are exposed to accidents caused by drunk drivers, which end up taking their lives. There are also other accidents at the workplace which are caused by working while intoxicated, especially in industrial plants where there is dangerous machinery. Accidents cause serious injuries or fatalities to victims.
Trouble with the law
Many drug users are arrested at some point in their lives due to drug use. Drug use causes addiction, which forces users to seek more. Since most drugs are illegal, law enforcers arrest drug users through elaborate schemes and plans put in place to deter drug use. Arrests over drug use have adverse repercussions including heavy fines and prison sentences. It also leaves a record which may affect future employment opportunities. Families suffer when breadwinners are arrested, and one loses employment when arrest over drugs is publicized. This creates a large population of social deviants who are a liability to society.
In order to solve the problem of drug abuse, each society stakeholder should join efforts to fight the vice. The problem of drug abuse needs to be publicized and help given to drug users. In addition, stiffer punishment should be given to traffickers. These and more interventions will be discussed below;
Counseling is the first step in solving the drug abuse problem. Users need to accept that they face a problem and counseling will enable them see the effects of drugs to themselves and their families. Family counseling also teaches families to be supportive of drug users in attempts to stop drugs (Evans & Sullivan 75-76). This is important as drug users have families as primary socialization units. Family counseling should also address problems such as domestic violence which are causalities of drug abuse.
Community and youth programs
Community and youth programs educate youth on harmful effects of drugs. These programs also offer youth alternative activities to do with leisure time such as sports activities. When youth are aware of harmful effects of drugs, they are likely to avoid using them, thereby reducing the problem of drug abuse.
In order to deter trafficking and sale of drugs, laws which heavily punish drug use and trafficking ought to be passed. These should involve heavy fines and long prison sentences. When such laws are passed, they will deter drug traffickers, and when drugs are unavailable, the problem of drug abuse will reduce, if not completely eradicated. Harsh laws are very effective in deterring commission of crime.
In order to solve the drug problem, better communication between teenagers, teachers and parents should be developed. This will enable teenagers to share their concerns with parents and guardians, who will advice them on choices to make as opposed to peers, who may give wrong guidance and direction. Communication will also provide opportunities to teenagers to be aware of adverse effects of drug use.
The problem of drug use has been discussed in detail. Common drugs abused have also been discussed. Drugs have been seen to be harmful not only to users but also to their friends and families. Their harmful effects include health complications, fatalities, loss of employment, and economic burdens amongst other effects. Every member of the society is responsible for the problem of drug abuse and appropriate interventions should be implemented to discourage the vice. These include communication with teenagers, stricter laws against drug trafficking, family counseling and community programs which publicize the problem of drug use. This will ensure that teenagers are safe and free from drug abuse.
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