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Substance Abuse Affecting African American Teenagers

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Substance abuse has become a global issue in recent years. The most prone substance abusers are young boys and girls in high school and partially young college students. Drug abuse among African American teenagers has resulted in dangerous criminal activities, while other drug users have become entirely dependent on drugs. Accordingly, addiction to drugs has also led to numerous school dropouts, with many teenagers forming and joining gangs that have ensued arrests of young people. While many individuals attribute drug abuse among teenagers to poor parenting, peer pressure has also contributed to substance abuse and other related criminal activities.

Substance abuse poses numerous risks to the health of an individual as well as the nation. According to Horton (2014), drug abuse among African American males has caused a lot of pressure on the nation because of the resources needed to treat their addiction. Horton attributes drug abuse among African American males to failed relationships, economic hardships that has forced young males to engage in selling of drugs to gain income for their upkeep, as well as witnessing violence among their families, that has ensued them to joining gangs to stay away from their abusive family members, especially parents. Moreover, Horton argues that many black males argue that cultural issues such as racism have also contributed to their engaging in drugs just to fit in the company of their white people counterparts. Also, many African American individuals serve long terms in jail, unlike their peers, which has influenced more black teenagers to engage in more selling and buying of drugs to get enough resources that may match with what the whites have. Because of the adverse effects of drug abuse, the government is spending numerous resources that would help in curing and reducing the addiction rates of young African Americans.

Psychological stress is another primary aspect that contributes to high rates of substance abuse, especially the abuse of hard drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. Lacey et al. (2016) contend that social discrimination and negligence as a result of individualizing people according to their culture and ethnicity generates a lot of psychological stress that drives young people to substance abuse. Moreover, low education attainment among African Americans results in the poor acquisition of jobs, thereby making individuals stressed from lack of finances as well as low self-esteem because they see themselves as unfit in the status quo. Furthermore, black African American immigrants face numerous stressors that may be due to the separation from their family members as well as social discrimination that contributes significantly to drug abuse. Besides, according to research conducted by Lacey et al. (2016), individuals who are frustrated as result of not finding job opportunities may end up depressed and, therefore, find themselves abusing drugs to forget about their problems. Consequently, high levels of unemployment and cultural differences contribute significantly to the emotional torture of African Americans, which in the end results in individuals engaging in substance abuse.

Substance abuse contributes to different violent activities because of the effect the hard drugs have on the abuser’s mind. Accordingly, a study conducted by Wechsberg et al.(2015), many African Americans, especially in Northern Carolina, who abuse drugs end up joining dangerous gangs that participate in different crimes, including sexual abuse and robbery with violence. Moreover, young drug abusers tend to engage in violent physical activities and sexual exploitation. Furthermore, a survey in Northern Carolina confirms that young women are at risk of engaging in drug-related activities such as sexual exploitation, in search for finances to buy basic needs. Accordingly, poverty and a lack of moral supports make young women prone to drug and substance abuse.

Additionally, victimization experienced by young African American women, justice inequalities as well as geographical segregation contributes a lot to psychological stress that subjects them into taking alcohol and other hard drugs. As a result of sexual exploitation, which because of drug abuse, the rate at which African American ladies get sexually transmitted infections is very high. HIV/AIDS is also on the rise because of the careless involvement of young girls in sex caused by the abuse of drugs. Moreover, teenagers, especially young women, often drop out of school as a result of abusing drugs or because of early pregnancies that force them to leave school to take care of their young ones. Therefore, exposure of young women to harsh environments contributes a lot in their engagement in drug and substance abuse.

When adolescents are subjected to parents who abuse drugs, they tend to exhibit disturbed characteristics such as fear and depression. Parents who are always on drugs seldom find time for their teen boys and girls, who need parental love and support as they grow. According to Johnson (2015), parents contribute to the different behaviors demonstrated by young people. Children reared by single alcohol-abusing mothers are at risk of indicating signs of withdrawal because they feel neglected and unloved. As a result, teenagers raised by single mothers often exhibit signs of psychological stress, and they always tend to isolate themselves from other peers living with both of their parents.

Moreover, teenagers, especially the African American teens growing with alcohol-abusing mothers, do not achieve well academically, and they always demonstrate signs of psychopathology. According to Johnson (2015), most African American single mothers reside in poverty. Therefore, when adolescents are surrounded with extreme poverty and their parents add to their stress by engaging in substance abuse while demonstrating cold attitudes towards them, they get emotionally stressed, and therefore, they might want to abuse drugs. Consequently, substance-abusing parents and precisely mothers lack the moral aptitude to take care of their children, thus subjecting them to psychological torture, which adds the youth’s desire to involve themselves in alcohol and substance abuse for them to forget the problems they experience at home.

Drug and substance abuse may result in long-term side effects, some of which may be irreversible. Some of the adverse effects of substance abuse are an addiction, which is defined by the total dependence of drugs, and at times, mental disorders. According to Welty et al. (2016), teenagers who have been exposed to drugs for long time exhibit signs of mental imbalance, which is characterized by the tendency of the young people to forget things easily as well as conversing with themselves. Moreover, long-term substance abuse of drugs may as well result in other physical health problems such as liver cirrhosis, heart diseases, and lung cancer. Male African Americans exhibited difficulty in responding to treatment when incarcerated.

Additionally, numerous African American males were confirmed to be abusing hard drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and hallucinogens. Female African Americans responded positively to treatment, although their mental status was also affected. Additionally, research conducted by Welty et al. (2016) confirms that racism and other cultural disparities among the African American youth contributed to their substance abuse. Thus, the effects of substance abuse in adolescents are evident because of the exhibition of drug-related ailments, such as psychological imbalance and other physical diseases, such as liver and lung cancer.

Overall, drug and substance abuse has been attributed to various factors that are both environmental and psychological. Cultural and ethnic factors are the primary causes of youths engaging in drug and substance abuse. Discrimination against African Americans, even in the judicial system, makes them participate in the selling of drugs for them to fit into the lifestyle of their white American counterparts. School dropouts and unwanted pregnancies in teenage girls is also attributed to alcohol and substance abuse. Additionally, poor parenting has also subjected adolescents to seek refuge in drug abuse, something that has caused young people to engage in violence and other drug-related crimes. Moreover, the government has as well invested a lot of resources to curb drug abuse among adolescents by building drug addicts retention centers. Therefore, parents should be ready to take responsibility for their teenage boys and girls by offering the necessary support that would encourage them to participate in constructive activities, that would enable them to become responsible adults.

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Substance Abuse Affecting African American Teenagers. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from
“Substance Abuse Affecting African American Teenagers.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
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