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Substance Use/Addiction: America's Dangerous Epidemic

By: Mackenzie Thompson


7. Taking Action

6. Prevention/Treatment

5. Crime

4. Academic Achievement

3. Mental Health

2. Statistics

8. Sources

1. Background

Background Knowledge

Substance Use/Addiction

  • A chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain
  • Complex brain disorder and mental illness that typically begins during adolescence
  • Recognized as significant problem in teens and adolescents for the past 40 years
  • Impacts mental health, academic achievement, and crime rates


Recent Research

  • Reports show illegal drug use is rising in the teenage age group
  • 14 is the average age for a teenager's first time using marijuana
  • 40% of experimental smokers between the ages 14-18 eventually transitioned into daily smokers
  • In 2016, about 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose

Mental Health

Effects on the Brain

  • Heavy drinking causes the frontal lobes to shrink, impairing decision-making skills
  • Affects hippocampus, which is in charge of memory and learning
  • Leads to depression, anxiety, and even suicide
  • Dopamine in the brain leaves users wanting more, causing an adidction
    • Leads to the feeling of depression and lifelessness

Academic Achievement

Substance Use and Academics

  • Substance abuse impairs cognitive development, reducing academic achievement
    • Disrupts progress made in the classroom
  • Decrease brain functioning affects individuals emotionally, cognitively, and mentally
    • All necessary for being active learners
  • Leads to association with antisocial groups, which diminishes engagement in schools
    • Increases behavioral and social issues

Crime Rates

Criminal Activity

  • Statistics show correlation between juvenile crime and substance use
    • Due to increased anger, outbreaks, and aggression
  • In a study, out of 487 juveniles, 86,44% of them had a history of drug use
  • Cocaine, inhalants, illicit drugs, cannabis, and opiods increases the chance of teens commiting crimes
  • Creates changes in personality
    • Individuals who were once caring and determined people, are now manipulative and liars.

Prevention & Treatment

Supporting the Youth

  • Studies have found research-based programs can significantly reduce early use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs
    • Customized for each individual victim
  • Educating the youth about substance abuse
    • Includes the harm it can cause and sharing images so teens can make more informed decisions
  • D.A.R.E is a school-based prevention program
    • Focuses on peer relationshos, devleloping refusal techniques, and enhancing coping mechanisms

Supporting the Youth Continued...

  • Make personal changes
    • Find new coping strategies such as physical exercise, listening to music, hanging with friends, etc.
    • Find new ways to handle stress
    • Surround yourself with different people
  • Ask a friend, parent, or trusted adult to keep yourself accountable
  • Make those difficult decisions to live a life of sobriety

Taking Action

The Time Has Come

  • Help take action to save the lives and future of our youth
  • Fight for more public policies to end the substance use epidemic
  • Our job as a community is to protect its citizens
    • We can do this by confronting the problem and supporting programs
  • If we work together, there will come a day where this epidemic will decrease significantly


Works Cited

B. Lindgren, & Michael Grossman. (2005). Substance Use : Individual Behavior, Social Interaction, Markets and Politics. JAI Press Inc.Donna B. McKinney. (2021). Substance Addiction. Essential Library.Gordon, S. M. (2019). Teens and Addiction. ReferencePoint Press.Lawrence M. Scheier, & William B. Hansen. (2014). Parenting and Teen Drug Use : The Most Recent Findings From Research, Prevention, and Treatment. Oxford University Press.Sharma, S., Sharma, G., & Barkataki, B. (2016). Substance use and criminality among juveniles-under-enquiry in New Delhi. Indian journal of psychiatry. Sheri Mabry Bestor. (2013). Substance Abuse : The Ultimate Teen Guide. Scarecrow Press.