Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Teenagers

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1818 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020

Words: 1818|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020


Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of Drugs Abused by Teenagers
  3. Alcohol Abuse
    Marijuana Use Among Teenagers
    Prescription Drug Abuse
  4. Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse on Teenagers
  5. Physical Health Effects
    Mental Health Effects
  6. Preventive Measures
  7. Conclusion


Did you know that approximately 17% of American high school students engage in behaviors involving alcohol, prescription medication misuse, smoking, or illicit drugs? This statistic represents a staggering 55 million underage teenagers who are exposed to substances like alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. Moreover, the number of young people using alcohol and drugs is increasing at an alarming rate. The use of these substances among teens can have severe consequences, ranging from deteriorating mental and physical health to fatal outcomes, which are discussed in this essay. However, there are strategies to prevent substance abuse among teenagers, such as setting positive examples at home, monitoring prescription medication usage, and establishing clear rules and expectations. While substance abuse poses significant challenges for teens, with adequate support and intervention, they can overcome these issues.

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Types of Drugs Abused by Teenagers

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse among teenagers present significant challenges in today's society, with the issue steadily worsening over time. Alcohol consumption is particularly concerning among adolescents, as studies indicate that individuals who start drinking during adolescence, especially in large quantities, are at a higher risk of developing alcohol dependence later in life. Recent data from a 2017 study revealed alarming trends, with nearly 20% of 10th graders and approximately 30% of 12th graders reporting alcohol consumption within the past month. Additionally, 10% of sophomores and 17% of 12th graders admitted to binge drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinks consecutively for two weeks. Research from the University of Utah underscores the significance of early alcohol use, indicating that teens who begin drinking at age 13 have a 43% likelihood of developing alcoholism, compared to a 10% likelihood for those who commence drinking at 21.

Marijuana Use Among Teenagers

Marijuana, an illicit substance, is prevalent among teenagers, with 36% of high school seniors reporting regular use, and 6% indicating daily consumption. Personal narratives, such as that of S.C. Sterling, shed light on the pervasive nature of marijuana abuse among teens. Sterling recounts his own experiences of frequent marijuana use starting from 11th grade, expressing how readily accessible the drug was through his social circles. His story underscores the detrimental impact of marijuana abuse on memory and academic performance, as he struggled to recall significant events from high school due to constant intoxication. Sterling's experience highlights the addictive nature of marijuana, with many teens finding it challenging to cease usage once initiated.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Teenagers often misuse prescription medications for various reasons, including self-medication, performance enhancement, or recreational purposes. Notably, Adderall, commonly prescribed for ADHD, ranks as the most abused prescription drug among 12th graders, with approximately 9.5% of male college students and 10% of female college students using it without medical supervision. Roughly 6% of high school students also engage in Adderall misuse. While Adderall can offer benefits when used as intended, such as improved focus and attention, its misuse poses significant risks. Teens may misuse Adderall to stay awake for extended periods, enhance social experiences, manage weight, or improve academic performance. However, the misuse of such drugs can lead to dependence and adverse health outcomes, complicating the struggle many teenagers face in managing academic, social, and athletic pressures.

Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse on Teenagers

Physical Health Effects

The repercussions of drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers can be profound, potentially leading to life-altering consequences. Such behaviors increase the likelihood of poor decision-making, accidents, and tragically, suicide attempts. Moreover, the physical health of teenagers is significantly jeopardized by substance use. Short-term drug abuse can impair brain function and impede physical growth and development in the long run. Research indicates that excessive alcohol consumption in teens can result in delayed puberty, diminished bone density, elevated liver enzyme levels indicating liver damage, stunted limb growth, and reduced growth potential. Sterling, reflecting on his own experiences, acknowledges the irreversible harm inflicted on his body by drugs and alcohol, although he remains alive. Substance abuse exacts a toll on vital organs such as the liver and heart, often leading to enduring health complications.

Mental Health Effects

The impact of drug and alcohol abuse extends beyond physical health, profoundly affecting teenagers' mental well-being and decision-making abilities. Substance use can cloud judgment and exacerbate underlying emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, mood instability, and hallucinations. Long-term marijuana use, in particular, has been linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, with heavy users exhibiting a sixfold higher likelihood. Early initiation of marijuana use can impede emotional development and heighten susceptibility to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Mental health professionals have observed a strong correlation between depression and substance abuse, recognizing a symbiotic relationship between the two. Drug-induced alterations in behavior, marked by aggression, paranoia, and violence, can precipitate severe consequences, contributing to rising mortality rates among teenagers due to substance abuse. The mortality rate from drug and alcohol abuse has surged, escalating by 16% annually from 2014 to 2017, with fatalities attributed to various factors including permanent brain damage from inhalants, heart attacks or strokes from stimulants, and respiratory failure from sedatives. A report by Trust for America's Health highlights a troubling trend, with drug overdose rates more than doubling over the past decade among individuals aged 12 to 25. Sterling candidly reflects on the grim potential outcomes of continued substance abuse, acknowledging the risk of overdose, violence, or suicide. The irreversible physical and mental consequences underscore the imperative for teenagers to grasp the gravity of their actions and recognize the inherent dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

Preventive Measures

The support of family and friends significantly reduces the likelihood of teenagers engaging in drug and alcohol abuse. Adults, particularly parents, play a crucial role in prevention by serving as positive role models. Parents should demonstrate responsible behavior regarding substance use, as their actions heavily influence their children's choices. Studies conducted by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America indicate that children are more likely to emulate their parents' behavior, especially if they witness substance use firsthand. Hence, parents' attitudes towards alcohol and drug use greatly influence their children's perceptions and decisions regarding substance abuse. Parents must recognize their role as primary influencers and understand that their actions set the tone for their teenagers' behavior. Monitoring and securing prescription medications within the household is essential to hold teenagers accountable and prevent misuse. Restricting access to alcohol, cleaning solutions, and medications reduces the likelihood of substance abuse among teens, as closely monitored supplies deter experimentation. It is imperative for parents to engage in open communication with their teenagers about the dangers of substance abuse, even if they believe their teen is not using drugs. Allowing drug use at home or sharing medications with teenagers is a misguided attempt at harm reduction and only exacerbates the problem. By actively monitoring household supplies and establishing clear rules and consequences, parents can empower their teenagers to make informed decisions and deter substance abuse. Consistently enforcing boundaries and communicating expectations regarding drug and alcohol use reinforces the seriousness of the issue and encourages responsible behavior. Sterling's experience underscores the importance of parental intervention and consequences for substance abuse. His father's failure to address his addiction enabled continued abuse and perpetuated the cycle of addiction. Parents must implement strict consequences for substance abuse to deter teenagers from engaging in risky behaviors.

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The prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers underscores the urgent need for preventive measures. Various substances, including alcohol, prescription drugs, and marijuana, are readily accessible to teenagers, increasing the risk of abuse. The detrimental effects of substance abuse on teenagers' physical and mental health cannot be overstated, often leading to tragic outcomes such as death. Parents can play a pivotal role in preventing substance abuse by setting positive examples, establishing clear rules, and enforcing consequences. By maintaining open communication and monitoring household supplies, parents can mitigate the risks associated with substance abuse and empower their teenagers to make responsible choices. The long-lasting effects of substance abuse extend beyond the individual, impacting friends, family, and the broader community. It is incumbent upon society to address the root causes of substance abuse and prioritize prevention efforts to safeguard the well-being of teenagers and prevent needless tragedies.


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Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Teenagers. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from
“Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Teenagers.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
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