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Substance Abuse And Violence In Teens

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Teenagers usually consider their adolescent years as a time to try out different things and experiment with what they see others doing usually out of boredom or peer pressure or simply for fun. It is only natural for curiosity to get the better of them as they are young adults with raging hormones and an inquisitive mind. They strive to be cool and want to “fit in” with what they consider as the happening crowd in society and this pressure to fit in is what drives their activities and interests.

Many teens try alcohol, drugs and tobacco at some point or another. Most of them get over it after a couple of trials and move back to normal life, while some get latched on to them and are unable to resist the urge to take them every day. They become so dependent on these substances that they find it difficult to function in their day to day life without taking them. This abnormal dependency is called substance abuse.

Substance abuse does not only affect the life of the user and his family but can also end up becoming a matter of legal concern in the user’s neighborhood. It has been found that substance abuse, if not controlled or treated, can increase the chances of the development of a violent streak in the user. If you or your loved one has been on the receiving end of violent acts at the hands of a substance abuser, you can seek legal recourse against this crime by engaging an experienced dangerous drugs and pharmaceuticals attorney.

What most parents usually worry about is that their child might get addicted to drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, marijuana and so on. But what they tend to overlook is that they are more likely to get addicted to substances like alcohol and tobacco which are available more easily than any of the other drugs. Teenage alcoholism is not unheard of and most teenagers will get hooked on to anything that is easily within their reach.

The Link between Substance Abuse and Violence

Although substance use does not cause violence, it has often been found to be one of the factors that influence violent behavior in the user. This could be because users think that they can justify their actions by using substance use as an excuse. Substance abuse and teen violence are two separate problems, but both have found to be influencing each other. To understand the link between to two, it is necessary to take into account the following:

Reason for the Addiction

It is not the drug, but the effect that the drug produces that the user becomes dependent upon. Taking dangerous or prescription drugs for a long time can make the user’s body immune to the effects and they might start taking higher doses which can lead to addiction and, in some cases, even death. Before you know it, it becomes a habit that is uncontrollable and difficult to let go of.

Types of Addiction Induced Violence

Addiction to drugs and alcohol can lead to suicidal thoughts, inexplicable psychological behavior and withdrawal/isolation. Besides that, the user might vent out his aggression on his family and friends or hurt their siblings (or spouse and children, if married). Addicts may commit violent crimes as a result of alcoholism or inebriation to forcefully obtain money to fund their addiction.

It is not just teenaged boys who indulge in violent behavior, but also girls. Addicts usually stop caring about everything and everyone who gets into the way of their addiction. Addiction among teens has been found to be one of the leading causes of teen death or injury related to car crashes, suicides, violence, brain damage and drowning. Substance abuse can increase the risk of teen pregnancy and contracting STDs because of unprotected sex. Even occasional alcohol use by a teen increases the risk of future alcohol and drug related problems.

Psychology of Teen Addicts

Many users do not realize that they are addicts and do not acknowledge the effect of the addiction on themselves and their loved ones and are in constant denial of substance abuse.

They do not acknowledge that their addiction is a serious problem and a grave cause of worry for their loved ones. In fact, they blame their behavior on others and lay the fault on them.

They believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them and their actions and that their friends and family have brought about their violent behavior upon themselves.

Prevention of Substance Abuse in Teens

It is important that parents and guardians of teenagers show patience and restraint toward them as a measure to prevent drug problems in the following ways:

Set an Example – Your child is going to learn and emulate your behavior that he has picked up during his growing years. Hence, the responsibility of setting precedents through your own behavior like drinking responsibly, not smoking and not using illicit drugs rests on you.

Start Early – Form a close bond with your child from an early age by supporting and encouraging good behavior. Allow him to practice responsibility and develop sound decision making skills. Encourage a healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious food, hobbies, sports and keeping the right company.

Educate Yourself – Keep yourself abreast of all the information related to drugs and alcohol and openly discuss these issues with your child and tell him as to what behavior is expected from him toward drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Let him know that substance use is not okay and he is not allowed to indulge in their consumption.

Get to Know His Friends – Encourage your child to make friends with other kids who avoid the use of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs so that he too stays away from such substances and doesn’t succumb to any type of peer pressure.

To Conclude

Parents need to be there for their children, especially during their adolescent years as it is a confusing and difficult phase for them to deal with. Through a little guidance and support at the correct time, you can help your child steer clear of addictions and abuse.

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