Alcohol and drug among school-going children and adolescents have been on the rise and the issue has led to a lot of exceptional attention from the policymakers, researchers, and the rest of the public. The increase n the rate of drug abuse in the recent past and current trends in adolescent substance abuse has led to questions as to what has led to such behavior. In recent years, drug use has become very complex and so many teenagers are forced to resort to drug abuse to solve their problems, out of peer influence and also curiosity. This has led to my interest in why students take risks and why they make such poor judgment. Students have become very vulnerable to drug abuse hence looking into this issue is relevant to the prevention, treatment, and parenting. A scientific study of the way brains develop can help people understand why adolescents resort to drug abuse.
Scientific discoveries have shown that the inclination of taking risky behavior such as abusing drugs has led to drug abuse. Winters (2008) argued that the developing brain of a teenager can explain why adolescents make decisions that are very risky and which may lead to health and safety concerns. He also added that brain development adds insights into the unique opportunities and opportunities associated with youth. Substance use and dependence rates vary from 3-15% according to statistics revealed by info facts (2008). The 3-15% represents a very large percentage of students. The table below shows that the students in higher grades abuse drugs more than students in lower grades.
Grade Alcohol % Marijuana % Any Illicit %
8 20 8 10
10 35 18 21
12 49 22 25
Consumption of alcohol for students in 8th grade is 20/38×100=52.63. That of students in 10th grade 35/74×100= 70.27% while that of 12th-grade students was 49/96×100=51.04%.
The table above shows that the rate of use of drugs increases as adolescents develop. Reducing the risk of addiction to drugs can be reversed by delaying every year use of drugs.
The rate of drug abuse at twelve years is very high, the rate decreases as one grows old. At 21 years and above the rate of abuse is very low. Profound brain maturation is usually prevalent. The process of brain maturation is not usually complete until one reaches the mid-twenties. Neurodevelopment in adolescents usually read to a lot of risk-taking, especially in groups. At this age, there is usually an inclination towards these low effort-high excitement activities (Spears, 2002). The development leads to an interest in new stimuli. The development of these neurons leads to a decrease in weighing consequences and capacity for good judgment and this can explain why teenagers take risks such as drug abuse (Mentor Foundation, 2010).
Most studies have shown that most of the areas in the adolescent brain are remodeled and become sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Teenagers are usually less sensitive to sedatives and the motor impairments effects of intoxication (Windows, 2008).
According to the New York state household report (2003 & 2005), the rate of dependence on alcohol for adults was 7.2%, for adolescents between 17-20 years, it was 14.6% while that for adolescents aged 18-19 was 10.5%. The chart below shows alcohol-dependent rates between teenagers
Adolescents are usually more sensitive to the social disinhibition induced by alcohol use. Alcohol use has great adverse effects on cognitive functioning. Leshner (2000) argued that adolescents who have a history of extensive alcohol use had reduced hippocampus volume of 10-35% and hence they had very little brain activity when it comes to memory tasks. This leads to low grades hence adolescents with a history of drug abuse perform very poorly in school because they have very minimal brain activity.
Drug abuse is a choice that most youths opt to make and the consequences of drinking too much at this early age impact the youth negatively. There are so many public health problems that have resulted from underage drinking (Leshner, 2000). This problem can be reduced by students using the strategy of delaying every year’s use of drugs. As most teenagers move from adolescence to young adulthood, the changes in the emotional, lifestyle and physical changes that incline them to drug use and abuse can be reduced by practicing self-control. Self-control should play a major role in tackling the problem of drug abuse. Youth should be aware that with age, risk factors decrease and so does the rate of addiction.