The term ‘drugs’ includes alcohol as much as it includes heroin, cocaine, marijuana, barbiturates and the rest. Alcohol is a ‘choice’ drug that is taken by the young generation in the US. If we look at statistics, it is clear that alcohol abuse surpasses the intake of all other illicit drugs combined together.
Many parents have a wrong notion that consumption of alcohol by their teenage son or daughter is not a serious concern and presents no cause for alarm. The fact is that alcohol is a powerful mood-altering drug capable of affecting body co-ordination in the most unpredictable ways. In addition, teenagers lack the necessary maturity level to really understand how to handle a ‘drink’. Young people face many risks from heavy drinking that can lead to serious consequences. It is scientifically proven that brain development continues through adolescence. Brain functions get affected in adolescents addicted to drinking and brain damage that may be irreversible.
Teens, similar to addicts from other age groups, develop drug dependence, which is a craving physical need for a specific drug. Long usage leads to serious health and behavioral problems. They associate with people who are habitual drug abusers. Once addicted, it becomes practically impossible for them to kick the habit and they experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they try to.
Drug abuse/addiction is not a character defect; it is a disease. The patient needs treatment similar to a person undergoing treatment for some other ailment. The line of treatment is of course different and requires a holistic approach comprising attention to medical, psychological and social aspects during treatment.
Relevant surveys disclose some very startling facts. One is that about forty percent of teens in the US candidly admit that they expect to use a drug in the future. Another is that twenty percent of eighth graders have already tried marijuana. It is a known fact that drug abuse causes serious mental and physical health consequences. There is significant reduction in fitness and stamina and there is damage to the brain and the lungs. Abuse of different drugs is interrelated. Teens who smoke are more likely to consume alcohol and those who drink are more likely to use marijuana. Those who are used to all three are prone to using other types of illicit drugs. Records show that almost all illicit drug rehab cases have an early history of marijuana use.
A Sept 2007 report shows that for the first time since 2002, figures relating to illicit drug use in American teens remained the same as in the survey conducted a year before. This report, which is released annually by the Bush administration, reflects that 9.8% of American teens aged between twelve to seventeen years used an illegal drug for non-medical purposes within a month of the survey in 2006. However, figures indicate a 15% decline in overall drug abuse from the 2002 levels. The stagnation in the decline over the last one-year is due to a rise in prescription drug and painkiller abuse rates, as per officials of the Bush administration. Drug abuse rates had dropped steadily from 2002 to 2005, but held steady in 2006, which affected the stated goal of President Bush to lower drug abuse rates by twenty-five percent by 2007.