Adolescent Drug use

Adolescent Drug Abuse
Crack, booze, pot, crystal- from the inner city to the suburbs to small towns, the world of the adolescent is filled with drugs. When a little harmless experimentation becomes addiction, parents, teachers, and society are often at a loss. For this age group (roughly ages 13 to 23), traditional substance abuse programs simply are not enough” (Nowinski, inside cover).

Today’s society provides many challenges for adolescents that our parents rarely had to face. Pre-marital sex and pregnancy, alcohol abuse, and drug addiction have always been around but they have never been more of a problem to adolescents than they are now. Adolescents are on their own to take care of themselves with more and more single parent households. The problem of drug and alcohol is a major one. Teenagers feel a need to drink and do drugs to fit in to peer groups. The problem is spreading rapidly. The common thought is that drugs are only in the big city or where the poor live but that is wrong. Any person can get drugs from the huge highly populated city to the small less populated towns of Texas and Nebraska. It doesn’t matter where you are. There is a major need for adults to intervene and stop the problem at its beginnings, adolescents. If we sit here and deny the fact that the problem is there then we are just setting ourselves up for disaster.

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The first source that I used for my research was a book written by Dr. Joseph Nowinski entitled Substance Abuse in Adolescents & Young Adults. It was written at the Elmcrest Psychiatric Institute in 1990. The book described Dr. Nowinski’s study of adolescent addicts of drugs and alcohol. It goes on to explain the need for the development of treatment plans for adolescents because conventional plans do not work on this age group. The second source that I used was a journal article entitled “Prevalence of substance abuse in a rural teenage population.” It was written by Wade Silverman. This article was published in The Journal of Adolescent Chemical Dependency in 1991. This article presented the results of a survey done in a rural school system to assess the prevalence rates of substance use and related lifestyle variables for teens and their parents. The third source that I used was a newspaper article taken from the February 1, 1994 edition of the Los Angeles Times. The piece was written by Marlene Cimons. The article, entitled “Illicit drug use by youths shows marked increases,” announced that the results of an annual survey showed that drug use had increased significantly among teenagers between 1992 and 1993 and has continued to consistently rise since then. My fourth source was a journal article written by S. Brown and others.

It was taken from The Journal of Studies on Alcohol. The article was entitled “Conduct disorder among adolescent alcohol and drug abusers” and was published in
1996. The article summarized a study that examined the extent to which conduct disorder type behavior predated substance use involvement among 166 adolescents in treatment for alcohol and other drug abuse. My final source was another journal article that was taken from The Journal of Marital and family Therapy. The article was written by H. Joanning and others in 1992. The article, entitled “Treating adolescent drug abuse: A comparison of family systems therapy, group therapy, and family drug education,” describes the differential effectiveness of three models of adolescent drug abuse treatment. It compares the Family Systems Therapy, the Adolescent Group Therapy, and the Family Drug Education models.


Dr. Nowinski’s book describes specific cases of adolescent drug abuse that he has worked with. He describes the different patterns of drug abuse and the causes of such abuse. He describes causes like alienation, low self- esteem and confidence, stress, and peer pressure. He goes into how developments of new treatment techniques are necessary because adolescent addictions are different than those of adults. He describes the process of counseling, denial and compliance, and surrender and recovery. Nowinski stresses the need for family intervention in cases that involve adolescents. Silverman gives the results of the survey and attempts to interpret the results. It was found that 83% of the students in the study were either abstainers or experimental users. It was recommended that primary prevention strategies should be used with this group. The remaining 17% had been deemed “drug users” and it was found that they all shared a similar lifestyle. All had multiple substance abuse problems, were engaged in frequent sexual activity, and received poor grades. It was also found that the amount of parental attention and supervision was significantly different for both groups. The article of my third source states that the rise in drug use among teens was driven by a dramatic rise in the use of marijuana and more use of stimulants, LSD and inhalants. It also describes how this trend was a reversal from the recent downward patterns of drug use among teens. In my fourth source it was found that most cases of alcohol and drug abuse in adolescents are attributed to conduct disorder behavior. It was also found that cases involving this disorder and drug abuse led to a more frequent relapse into the problem and an increase in anti-social behavior. The study in my fifth source found that the Family Therapy Systems model of treatment appeared to be more effective in treating and stopping adolescent drug abuse. It registered twice as many drug-free clients as the Family Drug Education program and three times as many as the Adolescent Group Therapy model.


Looking at the statistics it is obvious that drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents is a prevalent and dangerous problem. The use of these substances is dangerous and stupid. I’m not going to be a hypocrite and say that I have never tried any drugs or alcohol. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t but I realize that it is a problem that has to be addressed through action and not ignorance.