Adolescent Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders

Institutional Affiliation
Adolescent Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders
Problem Statement
Evidently, substance abuse among the adolescents is a main public health
issue. Substance abuse results in increased drug and alcohol-related
traffic accidents, poor academic performance, developmental problems,
risky sexual behaviors and juvenile delinquency. According to studies,
teen usage of illegal drugs has been steady in the near past. However,
substance use among the teens has become increasingly high. Besides, the
use of dangerous club drugs has become alarmingly high amid the older
teens. It is against this backdrop that the researcher aims at
investigating the claim that Substance abuse strongly influences the
prevalence of mental disorders in adolescence.
Literature Review
The predominance rates of mental illness within the juvenile delinquent
populace seem to be higher than among the general youth populace
especially in the United States. Basically, for substance abuse they are
10 times higher, and for conduct disorder about 3 to 4 times higher
(Timmons-Mitchell et al., 1997). The predominance rates apply to the
youths who commit crimes as well as those who do not. According to a
research carried out on the youths who offend indicated that the
predominance rates of the mental health alarm was approximately 40 to 50
percent (Grisso, 1999). A study carried out later indicate that the
predominance of any kind of disorder within the juvenile justice was
about 52.1 to 60.3 percent for the teens in drug and substance abuse
especially for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Garland
et al., 2001). Apparently, this is double the prevalence of mental
health concerns in the general youth populace which is approximately 20
to 30 percent of children within the school age bracket.
According to Rockville (1999) a projected number of 1.1 million of
adolescent aged between twelve and seventeen years depend on illicit
drugs whilst 915,000 depend on alcohol. Over 55 percent have attempted
to use illicit drugs while over 29 percent have used heroin, inhalants,
marijuana as well as cocaine (Arbor, 1999). In the United States, about
16.4 percent of adolescents aged between sixteen to seventeen years are
the second highest substance abusers, with those aged between eighteen
to twenty years being the highest abusers (Rockville, 1999). Rockville
also put forth that even though it is illegal for persons who were below
twenty one years of age to consume alcoholic beverages 10.4 million
drinkers are aged between 12 to 20 years (1999). Approximately 50
percent of this number overindulges in drinking, encompassing 2.3
million who can be categorized as heavy drinkers. Research carried out
by Grisso (1999) indicated that 25 percent of adolescent aged between
ten to seventeen years puff (inhaling the fumes of paint and glue),
while 34 percent become exposed to their peer friends who are substance
abusers at a tender age of 13 years. In 1998, approximately ten percent
of youths aged twelve to seventeen years were reported to use illicit
drugs, and most of them were frequent users of marijuana and alcohol
(Rockville, 1999).
Adolescents face inimitable risks linked with the abuse of substances.
For instance, the emotional and mental development of adolescents is
compromised by the use of substances as they interfere with how the
youths experience and approach interactions. Furthermore, substance
abuse results to various indirect and direct effects. Marijuana for
instance has negative impacts on the body and mind of the users. It is
said to damage intellectual capacity and short term memory, lessens the
capability to perform responsibilities necessitating coordination and
concentration, and modifies individuals’ sense of time. According to
studies, other than causing mental imbalance, lasting impacts of the use
of marijuana encompass amplified lung cancer risks, neck and head
cancer, chronic lung disorders, as well as infertility and sterility in
women and men respectively (Timmons-Mitchell et al., 1997).
Drug abuse generally initiates in adolescence, a time when the initial
symptoms of mental disorders emerge. However, research has shown that
abuse of drugs can also start any time in an individual’s life though
uncommon. It is thus anticipated that mental disorders are frequently
common amongst the adolescents. Considerable modifications taking place
in the brains during the teenage years and this boosts the
susceptibility to substance abuse, leads to addiction and mental
disorders. When drugs are abused, they impact brain circuits engaged in
memory and learning, decision making, reward, as well as behavioral
control. Therefore, understanding the lasting effects of substance abuse
at an early age is important in comorbidity research. Enough proof has
been gathered demonstrating how substance abuse at an early age is a
risk factor of future problems linked to substance abuse including the
incidence of mental disorders (Garland et al., 2001). Nevertheless, the
relationship between substance abuse and mental disorders is not
straight forward and might center upon psychological experiences,
genetic vulnerability, as well as environmental influences. This
complexity is highlighted in a study that showed that regular use of
marijuana during the teenage years amplifies psychosis risks in later
life, although for persons with specific gene variation.
Methods
This research paper has employed various methods in order to gather
sufficient information pertaining to our research topic. In order to
obtain enough literature related to substance abuse and medical
disorder, a methodical procedure was utilized. This encompassed the
employment of Medline, PsychINFO, peer reviewed journals, as well as
references cited in different websites and articles concerning substance
abuse and mental disorder. The studies involved in writing the
literature only covered those that investigate substance use and mental
disorders amongst the adolescents. Most of the used in the review
encompassed young teenagers aged between twelve and twenty years. A
cross-sectional design was used in the study.
Findings
The information gathered revealed that the predominance of any kind of
disorder within the juvenile justice was about 52.1 to 60.3 percent for
the teens in drug and substance abuse. About 1.1 million of adolescent
aged between twelve and seventeen years depend on illicit drugs whilst
915,000 depend on alcohol. Over 55 percent have attempted to use illicit
drugs while over 29 percent have used heroin, inhalants, marijuana as
well as cocaine. Approximately 16.4 percent of adolescents aged between
sixteen to seventeen years are the second highest substance abusers,
with those aged between eighteen to twenty years being the highest
abusers, and 10.4 million drinkers are aged between 12 to 20 years.
Approximately 50 percent of this number overindulges in drinking,
encompassing 2.3 million who can be categorized as heavy drinkers.
Roughly 25 percent of adolescent aged between ten to seventeen years
puff (inhaling the fumes of paint and glue), while 34 percent become
exposed to their peer friends who are substance abusers at a tender age
of 13 years
Discussions
It is true from this study that there is a positive relationship between
substance abuse and mental disorder. There is a high incidence of drug
abuse among the adolescents aged between 12 to 20 years as indicated in
the study. The research indicates that an individual can start drug
abuse anytime though it is uncommon. The indication by the study is that
among the adolescents there is an alarmingly high prevalence of mental
disorder. This is due to the fact that, there is a considerable
modifications taking place in the brains of a teenager and this boosts
the susceptibility to substance abuse, leads to addiction and mental
disorders. Evidently, drug abuse affects brain circuits involved in
learning, memory, behavioral, decision making and reward. Therefore,
understanding the lasting effects of substance abuse at an early age is
important in comorbidity research. The research demonstrates how
substance abuse at an early age is a risk factor of future problems
linked to substance abuse including the incidence of mental disorders.
The relationship amid mental disorders and substance abuse is not
straight forward and it can center upon genetic vulnerability,
psychological experiences and environmental influences. This complexity
is highlighted in a study that showed that regular use of marijuana
during the teenage years amplifies psychosis risks in later life,
although for persons with specific gene variation.
Conclusion
In conclusion substance abuse and mental disorders have a positive
relationship. This research shows that substance abuse results in
increased drug and alcohol-related traffic accidents, poor academic
performance, developmental problems, risky sexual behaviors and juvenile
delinquency. Considerable modifications in the brain take place during
the teenage years and this boosts the susceptibility to substance abuse,
leads to addiction and mental disorders. Teen usage of illegal drugs has
been steady in the near past and has become increasingly high. When
drugs are abused, they impact brain circuits engaged in memory and
learning, decision making, reward, as well as behavioral control.
Therefore, understanding the lasting effects of substance abuse at an
early age is important in comorbidity research.
References
Arbor, A. (1999). Monitoring the Future. Data from In-School Surveys of
8th, 10th, and 12th Graders. MI: Survey Research Center, Institute for
Social Research, University of Michigan.
Garland, A. F., Hough, R. L., McCabe, K. M., Yeh, M., Wood, P. A., &
Aarons, G. A. (2001). Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in youths
across five sectors of care. Journal of the American Academy of Child
& Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(4), 409-418.
Grisso, T. (1999). Juvenile offenders and mental illness. Psychiatry,
Psychology & Law, 6(2), 143-151.
Rockville, MD (1999). Summary of Findings from the 1998 National
Household Survey on Drug Abuse. DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 99-3328.
Timmons-Mitchell, J., Brown, C., Schulz, S. C., Webster, S. E.,
Underwood, L. A., & Semple, W. E. (1997). Comparing the mental health
needs of female and male incarcerated juvenile delinquents. Behavioral
Sciences & the Law, 15(2), 195-202.
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