Drug Abuse in Adolescents: The Causes


As is known, the range of social problems faced by the individual is regularly actively expanding. One of such difficulties confronting society is teenage drug addiction. Scientists estimate that about one in two American teenagers has at least the initial experience of using narcotic illicit substances. However, it is well known that the long-term effect of drugs affects both psychological and biological health. Therefore, it is of great value to study the reasons that make young people choose to use narcotic drugs. The most common causes include biological factors, family interaction patterns, domestic violence or child abuse, and low social status. The purpose of this research paper is to discuss the listed causes of drug dependence among adolescents.

Introductory statistics

It would be wrong to assume that the problem of teenagers’ addiction to marijuana, cocaine, opiates, and over-the-counter drugs is abstract and not directly related to the present reality. “Drug Use Among Youth” estimates that about 47% of teenagers had used an illicit drug at least once by the time they graduated from high school, while 43% of college students tend to use drugs regularly. According to the statistics, the most popular place for taking substances is on school grounds. Furthermore, in the press release, Senator Grassley expressed concern about the increased rate of teenage drug abuse, both prescription and over-the-counter drugs (Grassley). In particular, the senator writes that almost one in three pupils in grade 12 is prone to excessive consumption of tablets and syrup containing Dextromethorphan, an active morphine-like drug. Simultaneously, the dose of permitted drugs required to get a sense of euphoria significantly exceeds that of synthetic or natural illicit drugs, so teenagers often abuse the amount of syrup, which causes overdose.

Reasons for drug addiction

First of all, it is essential to note that the following factors in adolescent drug addiction development have the property of additivity. An individual’s consciousness is affected by a set of various potential threats, so the primary factor is, as a rule, challenging to determine. Moreover, the interconnectedness of causes often leads to the dominance of some factors over others. This means that the problem of domestic violence for one teenager will become decisive in their choice of a drug, while another teenager, having the same problem, may start taking substances due to the influence of their friends.

Biological factors

Genetic factors play an insignificant role in the problem of teenage drug addiction. Psychological addiction expressed through a violation of neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure (Blum et al. 3). Thus, if an individual has been using a drug for a long time, an associative connection “drug = pleasure” is formed in their brain, which is laid down in genes. This means that children are vulnerable to drug addiction, so in the teenage period, there is a severe need for assistance for children of drug abuse parents. At the same time, a person can become addicted to any drug if they have a family history of drug dependence (Kalb et al. 936). Nevertheless, the practical dimension of this problem and the provision of timely assistance to adolescents is hampered by a situation in which parents do not recognize their problems.

Family interaction patterns

The development of the research factor described in the previous paragraph leads to the influence of family members, who can either contribute to the formation of drug dependence or inhibit its manifestation. It is known that the fundamental model of family relations is based on the deep emotional connection between parents and the child, the sense of security and predictability of actions. Nevertheless, this approach causes a conscious separation from parents, which is quite natural for a growing individual. If the family was not characterized by encouragement, care, and love, the alienating adolescent might turn to drugs to try something new. As can be seen, this factor is not necessarily strong, but form a culture in which parents are not interested in the child. It is fair to say that, according to Spooner, the family relationship model is not the leading cause of juvenile dependency, although some social elements such as parental jail time and family dynamics do play an important role (456). It encourages teenagers to discover new sensations because there are no sanctions on the part of caregivers.

Domestic violence

The impact of the tough attitude of family members on the adolescent’s mind is devastating. Physical attacks, neglect of parental responsibilities, psychological extermination, and sexual abuse are the reasons for the formation of a particular type of personality of the individual, which is characterized by isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and silence of problems. Spooner develops the specificity of cruelty to teenagers and cites the hypothesis that under prolonged exposure to violence from adults, a child develops a chronic sense of guilt (457). This does not seem surprising — if a child is continuously accused of making mistakes, even fictional or insignificant ones, the child will soon blame themselves. As a result, such children find peace of mind in drugs, as they break a substantial emotional connection with the world of a cruel family and bring the child pleasure. Moreover, adolescent drug abuse is often a psychological indicator of family problems (James et al. 95). Thus, it is possible to suspect a child’s physical or psychological abuse if there are elements of dependence on psychoactive drugs in the child’s behavior.

Low social status

It is essential to recognize that, even with a vast number of unresolved family problems and genetic predisposition, a person may not try drugs a single time. Much of this depends on society and the environment in which the individual grows. Whereas it used to be assumed that low social status, poverty, and low-income families were the sources of teenage drug problems, the picture of the modern world has changed significantly. Spooner notes that it is difficult to speak of a direct correlation between drug addiction and an individual’s socioeconomic status (458). Nevertheless, reality confirms that people from dysfunctional families with a low social level are more likely to use cheaper drugs. Often, the reason for teenage drug addiction is a low level of interest, narrowed horizons of perception, and impoverishment of the individual’s emotional and moral feelings. In other words, a teenager’s social lifestyle plays a negative role in the formation of addiction (Goliath and Blanche 118). In particular, each unique case has to be dismantled to find the individual’s claims to a worthy place in society, social activity, healthy lifestyle, and intellect. The absence of a definite system of values, a negative assessment of drug addiction as an exceedingly terrible phenomenon, leads to familiarity with dangerous drugs.


Summing up the above, it should be noted that the problem of teenage drug addiction is a severe obstacle to modern society. In terms of the number of new cases, the rejuvenation of the contingent and the rate of spread of drug addiction should be classified as an epidemic. Simultaneously, as noted earlier, there is a range of possible causes and circumstances that have stimulated the development of drug addiction. This research paper discussed in detail the biological nature of the individual, the family model, and the rigid attitude towards the child, as well as the social status and outlook of the adolescent.

Works Cited

Blum, Kenneth, et al. “Pro-dopamine Regulator–(KB220) to Balance Brain Reward Circuitry in Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS).” Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome and Addiction Science, vol. 3, no. 1, 2017, pp. 3-28.

Drug Use Among Youth: Facts & Statistics.” NCDAS, 2020, Web.

Goliath, Veonna, and Blanche Pretorius. “Peer Risk and Protective Factors in Adolescence: Implications for Drug Use Prevention.” Social Work, vol. 52, no. 1, 2016, pp. 113-129.

Grassley, Chuck. “Grassley Targets Prescription Drug Abuse in Ongoing Battle to Keep Kids Drug Free.” Chuck Grassley, 2007, Web.

James, Sarah, et al. “Links Between Childhood Exposure to Violent Contexts and Risky Adolescent Health Behaviors.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 63, no. 1, 2018, pp. 94-101.

Kalb, Fayth M., et al. “Genetic Counseling for Alcohol Addiction: Assessing Perceptions and Potential Utility in Individuals with Lived Experience and Their Family Members.” Journal of Genetic Counseling, vol. 26, no. 5, 2017, pp. 963-970.

Spooner, Catherine. “Causes and Correlates of Adolescent Drug Abuse and Implications for Treatment.” Drug and Alcohol Review, vol. 18, no. 4, 1999, pp. 453-475.

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