Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse among Young People

Post in Medicine

Parents can play a big role in the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse among teens. They should also talk openly with their kids and set boundaries that they will enforce. Adolescents often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with stress, loneliness, depression or problems at school. Using these substances can lead to poor judgment and high-risk sexual activity and can cause serious health issues later in life.


During adolescence, drug abuse can have serious social and economic consequences for both youth and their families. These include the financial losses of crime victims, increased demand for juvenile and criminal justice services and demands on health care systems for treatment of injuries or illnesses resulting from substance abuse.

Adolescents may experiment with and misuse many types of substances, including alcohol, inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols and solvents), prescribed medications, over-the-counter cough, cold and sleep medicines and illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. The abuse of drugs can also lead to a decline in school performance and attendance, and truancy is often associated with drug use.

Despite these problems, adolescents who stay drug-free have several protective factors and strategies that include strong positive connections with family, friends, school and religion; the avoidance of risky peers; and the ability to distinguish between good and bad influences. The early debut of drug use is consistently associated with mental health problems, such as depression and developmental lags.

Mental Health Issues

Adolescent drug use often exacerbates mental health symptoms such as hopelessness, anxiety and irritability. In addition, high-risk substance use escalates from experimentation to addiction much more rapidly in adolescents than in adults and is associated with higher rates of serious disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD and schizophrenia.

Adolescence is a particularly difficult time to cope with mental health problems due to factors such as peer pressure, family dynamics and social stressors. Many teenagers who develop these disorders are not receiving adequate care and are at greater risk for worsening their conditions over time.

Many of the same underlying factors that lead to mental illness are present in teens who use drugs and alcohol, including abuse, neglect, bullying, family discord, socioeconomic issues, poverty, trauma and features of particular cultures or societies. Behavioral therapy, supportive groups and meaningful paid or volunteer work can help with recovery. In some cases, medication may be needed as well.


Young people with drug problems often disengage from school, social activities and work. They also may have a negative impact on their family. This can lead to gang activity, income-generating crimes and demands for juvenile and criminal justice services.

Those who seek treatment for drug abuse are often diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety. Many treatment facilities offer integrated programs where medical, mental health and drug abuse treatment professionals all work together to help the patient recover from their addiction.

Prior studies have shown considerable variation in the extent to which self-perceived mental health problems covary with drug use patterns. This reflects differences in selection, type of care, assessment methods, diagnostic tools and timeframes of evaluation. For example, the prevalence of mental disorders has been found to vary by gender and by age at the onset of drug use. This suggests that gender and age are important determinants of drug-related mental distress.


Many of the risk factors that lead to drug abuse and addiction in adults begin during adolescence. This fact, and the well-established pattern of onset and progression of alcohol and drug use and abuse during this period, has led to the development of a wide range of prevention options. These are typically education based and may include universal programs that teach life skills, personal responsibility and drug resistance techniques, programs designed for a specific population (e.g., at-risk teens) and program components that involve family-centred interventions.

Adolescent substance abuse leads to a host of social and criminal justice problems that affect the young person, their family members, their neighbours and their community as a whole. In addition, youth involved in drugs and/or alcohol abuse are often more prone to engage in activities that can result in serious legal trouble such as gang activity, juvenile crime and homicide. This can put a strain on local law enforcement and public safety resources.

Youth drug and alcohol misuse must be addressed for their health and future. Risk education and prevention are crucial. Substance addiction and mental and physical health are often disregarded. Health and healing chemistry can illuminate prevention methods. Promoting comprehensive well-being empowers young people to make informed decisions. “The Chemistry of Health and Healing” illuminates the complex relationship between physical and mental health, highlighting the need for a holistic approach to teenage substance abuse.