Adolescence and Drug Abuse

Substance abuse of alcohol and other drugs continues to be a major health and social issue globally. According to Drug Abuse Statistics, 19.4% of people have consumed illicit drugs at least once in their lives and almost 50% of teenagers have misused drugs. Consumption of drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy among others is becoming increasingly common amongst adolescents and this has profound negative impacts on their daily lives. Many sources of addiction are becoming easier to access, being cheaper and easily suppliable by dealers. This article attempted to discuss the causes and consequences of drug abuse among adolescents and suggests some prevention strategies to tackle the issue.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

The use of drugs and alcohol in an excessive manner or maladaptive manner, without any medical prescriptions of the drug, entailing psychological, physical and social issues is termed drug abuse. Drug abuse also involves the illegal use of drugs. Essentially, it is the addiction to drugs that leads to their abusive usage. Addiction refers to a psychological condition, wherein a person feels dependent on a substance to avoid negative feelings. The ICD-10 defines addiction as a dependency disorder. These addictions can be to substances like alcohol and drugs such as cocaine and marijuana among others.

Consequences of Drugs and Alcohol Abuse

The use of psychoactive drugs is a major menace in the public health and social well-being scenario. Studies have found that the adolescent brain is more vulnerable to the ill effects of alcohol and drug usage.

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Some consequences of substance abuse among adolescents are.

  • Alcohol and drug abuse have a serious physical, mental and neuro-cognitive impact on health which often transitions into adulthood. Addiction to drugs may lead to stress, anxiety, and depression, which may lead to suicidal tendencies in teenagers. Schizophrenia is also reported among such adolescents.

  • Societal issues include the impact of that individual's addiction at their school or workplace. Due to their problem of substance abuse, they might compromise their academics and work ethics.z.

  • Teens struggling with the problem of drug and alcohol abuse may turn to criminal behaviour such as stealing, scams, and fraud to get the funds for their addictions.

  • Behavioural issues may occur leading to erratic behaviour, aggression and violence, and other social issues. Adolescents may engage in inappropriate and unsafe sexual activities which also increases the risk of contracting diseases.

  • Premature deaths by the age of 35, due to excessive consumption of alcohol and other drugs.

How to Prevent Drug Abuse in Adolescence?

The fact that early adolescence is vulnerable to being influenced by peer pressure and personal curiosities calls for intervening in the situation and preventing such habits from developing early on.

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It is important to track the activities of adolescents. Proper information on their whereabouts and social circle helps protect them from getting influenced by bad companies and getting involved in illegal activities.

  • Providing support to the teenager in situations of stress and emotional vulnerabilities always has rewarding effects. Improved relationship with parents is surveyed to be instrumental in the prevention of drug abuse among adolescents. The introduction of rules and dealing with consequences has helped teenagers become more responsible.

  • The domestic environment in which a teenager is brought up is often neglected and its effects on their emotional well-being are always undermined. A disturbed home may cause the teen to resort to substance abuse in order to escape the stress.

  • Professional help must be provided if there's any sign or symptom of possible drug addiction or abuse .

  • Early intervention programmes in the house or school settings provide substance abuse prevention strategies. Teaching the ill effects of substance drug abuse in school is influential in the prevention of such habits.

  • Awareness programmes provide information on the drug laws and policies and the hazardous effects of drug abuse.

  • Training programmes where adolescents can be helped with building and improving behaviour such as emotional intelligence development, social responsibilities, tackling peer pressure, conflict resolution, etc.

Health Effects of Different Drugs

All drugs have a direct effect on the body’s central nervous system and have an influence on the person's ability to think, act and feel. They hinder the mind's ability to reason and make rightful decisions.

1. Stimulants

    • These drugs speed up the CNS, inducing a sense of excitement, activeness, alertness, and energy. It includes drugs like cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), amphetamine (speed), etc.

    • Increased pulse rate, body temperature, reduced appetite, stomach aches, etc are common effects of these drugs.

    • Continued and repetitive usage can cause addiction, leading to paranoia, psychosis, and panic.

    • The adolescent may become schizophrenic if appropriate steps are not taken.


Ecstasy (MDMA) − Ecstasy is a stimulant and a hallucinogen, termed a recreational drug, although its effects are quite the opposite. Effects include increased pulse rates, nausea, and flashes of chills or sweats accompanied by a sharp increase in body temperature. Depression, irritability, and mental confusion are also commonly reported side effects. In case of severe addiction, kidney failure can result.

2. Analgesics

    • Also known as narcotics, include drugs like morphine, codeine, and heroin.

    • These drugs are addictive and lead to a state of pleasure and drowsiness.


Heroin - Effects include analgesia, euphoria, and a slowed pulse rate. Vomiting and stomach cramps may result from long-term use. Abscesses and infections of heart valves may develop. Heroin usage can also lead to miscarriage in pregnancy and neonatal abstinence syndrome. Pneumonia and liver diseases are also common. Moreover, there is always the added risk of STDs through shared needles. Heroin consumption, when combined with alcohol, can lead to coma and even death.

3. Depressants

These drugs induce a relaxed and calm state of mind among consumers. This category of drugs includes alcohol, nicotine, and barbiturates. Sometimes they may introduce aggression, anxiety and nightmares.


Alcohol − Alcohol consumption affects the way the brain works, hindering thinking and coordination. The health effects of alcohol include liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis. Alcohol also impacts the pancreas, leading to pancreatitis. It is notoriously well known for causing several kinds of cancer, including liver cancer, oesophageal cancer, and breast cancer. Alcoholism also increases the chances of contracting pulmonary diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis.

4. Hallucinogens

    • Include marijuana (cannabis), LSD, ketamine (aka diviner’s sage), MDMA (ecstasy), DOM (aka Serenity, Tranquillity and Peace, STP), and psilocybin (magic mushrooms), etc.

    • These drugs induce a state of paranoia and perceptual distortion. They are especially addictive because they induce simulations, illusions, and distortions of reality.


Cannabis induces drowsiness and affects the coordination and control of the body. Its consumption is linked with asthma, bronchitis, and cancer of the lung, throat, and mouth. Other health issues include stomach pain, gastric problems, nausea, and panic. Long-term effects also include mental health issues.


  • Drug addiction and abuse is an important issue that leads to many behavioural and social problems.

  • Adolescents are especially vulnerable to drug abuse owing to peer pressure and personal curiosities.

  • Drug abuse can lead to erratic social behaviour along with several mental and emotional problems.

  • Prevention of drug abuse and addiction among adolescents is imperative in order to protect their health and social behaviour.

  • Different drugs have varied health effects on the individual.


Q1. What is meant by drug overdose and how must it be responded to?

Ans. A drug overdose refers to the consumption of a drug at toxic levels, which can cause serious issues and may prove fatal. The overdosed individual must immediately be rushed to the hospital.

Q2. Which substance is the most consumed drug in the Indian scenario?

Ans. Heroin is reported to be the most consumed drug among the Indian population.

Q3. Can drug addiction be stopped or controlled?

Ans. Yes, there are special treatment centres known as drug rehabilitation centres or programmes which help an addict overcome their problems with drug abuse and addiction.

Q4. What are the symptoms of drug addiction?

Ans. Feeling a desperate need to consume the drug, ignorance of the fact that the substances are harmful, difficulty in stopping or reducing the intake of the drug and occurrence of withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not consumed for a considerable period of time.

Q5. What is meant by withdrawal and relapse?.

Ans. Withdrawal refers to symptoms that occur once an addict stops the use of the drug(s) they consumed regularly. It can include physical, mental and emotional issues. Relapse entails a person’s return to the use of drugs after a certain period of avoidance or sobriety.


Simply Easy Learning

Updated on: 13-Oct-2022


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