TEENAGERS AND DRUG ABUSE
Drug abuse can generally be defined as the unguarded use of both legal and illegal drugs to the detriment of the user. From the above definition, one could see that even legal drugs (drugs that are socially and medically acceptable) can be detrimental to the body when used wrongly. This is why it is advised that only qualified medical practitioners should prescribe these drugs.
Some Reasons Why Teenagers Abuse Drugs:
- Peer pressure: Most teenagers are susceptible to influence. The desire to belong and not be looked down upon by friends (feel among), push them into doing things they ordinarily would not do. For instance, a teenager who neither smokes cigarettes nor drinks alcohol is more likely to indulge in these if his/her friends smoke and drink. Sadly, such people often end up experimenting with harder drugs.
- Curiosity: Teenagers are adventurous by nature; as a result, they often experiment with the untouchables. A mere mention that when one takes marijuana one begins to feel ‘high’ will make an average teenager want to try it to know how feeling ‘high’ is and in the process might get hooked on the drugs.
- Stress: Some teenagers when faced with stress, be it at home, in the school or socially, resort to drug use as a way of escape. Abuse of drugs does not solve problems rather it compounds them. Try to discuss your concerns with your school or church counselors or any responsible adult you can trust (you can also talk to Judy).
- Self medication: Many people including teenagers are guilty of this, but it is wrong and strongly discouraged by medical experts. It is expected that people should consult qualified medical practitioners when ill rather than engaging in self medication which may result in fatalities (damage of vital organs or even death) if wrongly administered.
The effects of drug use/abuse on an individual and the society are legion and cannot be exhaustively discussed in one article. However, effort will be made to highlight some of it here:
- Amongst teenagers, abuse of drugs causes serious behaviour disorders and can lead to anti-social activities like; truancy, examination malpractices, indecent sexual practices, dirtiness, lack of respect for elders including parents, pilfering, involvement in cultism and violent clashes among other vices.
- Addiction can occur as a result of constant drug use/abuse. Aside being a very expensive habit, drug addiction is a serious problem because the individual finds it difficult to function properly without the drug. Withdrawal symptoms occur when the individual tries to stay off the drug, this brings unbearable discomfort which forces him/her back to taking the drugs. At this point, stopping the habit becomes really difficult and almost impossible if the abuser does not seek help in a rehabilitation centre.
- The spread of the dreaded HIV virus and other infectious diseases like Hepatitis B is escalated through the practice of Injecting Drug Use (IDU). By injecting drugs, abusers exchange unsterilized syringes thereby exposing themselves to infection.
- Damage to organs – drug abuse can also lead to damage of vital human organs like; the brain, liver, kidney, heart, eyes and even reproductive organs. It can also lead to cancer (of different types).
- Hallucination/Madness – excessive drug use can make a person to begin to hallucinate (see and hear things that others around him/her cannot see or hear). In other words, the person begins to see and hear non -existent images and sounds. While this is not considered madness, full blown madness may set in with continued use of the offensive drugs.
- Death – many young people have lost their lives needlessly as a result of unguarded use of drugs. Many have died in avoidable accidents while driving or operating heavy machineries under the influence of alcohol. Some others have also died simply by taking drug overdose.
It is obvious that abuse of drugs, whichever way one may look at it, is an ill-wind that blows no good and efforts should be made to stop it. The basic effort should come from you! Say NO! to drug use/abuse and keep away from friends who refuse to say no.