When young people start doing drugs or drinking alcohol, they begin going down a path that leads to some very undesirable consequences. They run the risk of living a life of addiction, getting involved with crime, and ending up in poverty, just to name a few. We need to develop and support more programs aimed at helping youth that are at risk for abusing drugs and alcohol. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske knows youth anti-drug programs are important, “Data show that community efforts to reduce youth substance abuse through Drug Free Communities programs are effective.” (1)
Consequences of Juvenile Substance Abuse
One of the main concerns for young people who are abusing substances is that they are going to get involved with criminal activity. Nearly one half of all youth in the juvenile criminal justice system are in need of substance abuse treatment. For youth, doing drugs and rebelling go hand in hand. Most often it is the impaired judgment because of drugs that makes them want to steal, fight, or vandalize. Other times, youth commit crimes of theft and violence in order to support their drug habit.
Treating Adolescent Drug Abuse
Adolescent substance abuse is not normal, nor should it be allowed. It is not a right of passage that kids must go through. Adolescent drug abuse leads to adult drug addiction, to violent behavior, and to a life in and out of jail. For the sake of our youth, their future, and the future of our society, we must continue to work to help these youth. Many programs are designed to treat adolescents with drug or alcohol addiction. When the criminal justice system is connected to these treatment programs, the results are very positive. It is not enough to keep a juvenile in custody, have them serve their time, and send them back out to the streets. We need to treat them for drug abuse in order to see real results.
Community Youth Programs
A juvenile who is on drugs should be a concern to all of us. Because drugs are easily accessible to even our young people, we need to educate them about the dangers of substance abuse. We need to help our teens get involved with positive activities that keep them out of trouble and away from drugs and alcohol. Parents should be the first step in keeping young people off drugs, but unfortunately too many parents won’t put forth the effort, or feel they can’t make an impact. “Action at the community level and kitchen tables drives rates of substance abuse down,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. (1) Community programs that directly help keep youth off drugs are therefore vitally important, and benefit our society as a whole.