Teenagers & Drugs

Drugs and Teenagers
Drug use is the increasing problem among teenagers in today’s high schools.

Most drug use begins in the preteen and teenage years, these years most
crucial in the maturation process. During these years adolescents are faced
with difficult tasks of discovering their self identity, clarifying their sexual
roles, assenting independence, learning to cope with authority and searching
for goals that would give their lives meaning. Drugs are readily, adolescents
are curious and venerable, and there is peer pressure to experiment, ad
there us a temptation to escape from conflicts. The use of drugs by
teenagers is the result of a combination of factors such as peer pressure,
curiosity, and availability. Drugs addiction among adolescents in turn lead to
depression and suicide.
One of the most important reasons of teenage drug usage is peer pressure. Peer pressure represents social influences that effect adolescents, it can have a positive or a negative effect, depending on person’s social group and one can follow one path of the other. We are greatly influenced by the people around us. In today’s schools drugs are very common, peer pressure usually is the reason for their usage. If the people in your social group use drugs there will be pressure a direct or indirect pressure from them. A person may be offered to try drugs, which is direct pressure. Indirect pressure is when someone sees everyone around him using drugs and he might think that there is nothing wrong with using drugs. Person might try drugs just to fit in the social norms, even if a person had no intentions of using drugs one might do it just to be considered “cool” by his friends.

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Today drugs are considered to be an acceptable social phenomenon by
many teenagers. Here is a personal example of drug use from a teenager, “
When I started using, was only on weekends, at parties. I used drugs
‘recreationally’ and therefore thought I had no addiction problem. I used
drugs like nicotine, marijuana or LSD to be happy or to have fun. I needed
drugs. I kept using drugs; I used drugs like marijuana to fit socially. I had
problems in my life, emotionally, that drugs only seemed to solve. Drugs
made my problems worse. I started snorting cocaine. I injected heroin into
my veins. I almost died. I was addicted”
In today’s highs schools the availability and variety of drugs is widespread. There is a demand for drugs and the supply is plentiful. Since drugs are so easy accessible, a natural interest in them may develop. A person may hear about drugs experiences, on reactions of drug usage, such as “ Hey the weed that he sold us was cool, I got stoned man”. This response will create a sense of curiosity and may convince the person to try drugs themselves.

Many teenagers today believe that the first use of drugs is safe. However
even though there is no instant addiction with the first try, youngsters tend to
experiment further. Soon a person could actively seek the euphoric effects
of drugs. Drug addiction is the result of intense preoccupation with the dicer
to experience the mental and bodily changes with drug use. The final and the
most disastrous stage are when a person needs drugs in order to function
adequately. Therefore availability, curiosity and experimentation could result
in drug addiction among teenagers.
One of the most devastating side effects of drug addiction and abuse is
depression. Depression is the result of chemical imbalance, environmental
influence, or a combination of both. Using heavy and very highly addictive
drugs as heroin, cocaine, opium and many other will cause sudden mood
changes, deterioration of the immune system, nervous breakdowns, unusual
flares of temper and many other side effects. Besides physical side effects,
drug addiction can create problems in a person’s social circles. The person
may run into many conflicts with his family and friends, resulting in desire for
isolation. This in turn will create more problems since the person will have no social support. Furthermore, drug addiction is a financial strain especially for teenagers. When a person is addicted to drugs he will do anything to obtain money to fulfill his needs.
According to previous studies, drug addiction is the results of 3 “I’s”.

Teenagers may think of their problems as Inescapable, Interminable and
Intolerable. Life may seem bleak and miserable. Seeing no way out feeling
lonely and no prospects for improvement leads to depression. Which can
further lead to attempted suicide. Many studies have found that drugs are a
contributing factor to suicide. Using drugs may reduce inhibitions and impair
judgement, suicide is a possibility. As one statistic illustrates 70% of all young people who attempted suicide used drugs.
Illegal drugs, for example, weed, speed, acid, or ecstasy has always been a problem among the younger folks, the problems gets even more serious if it involves additive substances such as cocaine.
The most common seen illegal drug around teens in BC is Ecstasy, or
generally called “E”. E’s are usually involved in rave parties; people take E’s
and dance overnight. The academic name for E is hallucinogenic stimulant, it
generally affects the concentration of the brain, and it can change one’s mood, sleep, sexual behavior, body temperature and appetite. The sensation sight, sound and touch are enhanced, that’s why it’s usually used at discos and parties. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to “get high” and about three to four hours to wear off. Side effects include heart and blood pressure problems, blurred vision, chills and sweating. The tablet changes every week and counterfeits are always around, it is not addictive. It is illegal to buy, sell, produce or posses any amount of E.

Another popular drug is LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), which is a little similar to E. It alters a person’s perception of sights, sounds, and touch etc, a person that has taken LSD might see or hear things that don’t exist. Known as “acid”, this drug is extremely powerful, once teaspoon can contain up to 25’000 doses. Only 200 micrograms is needed for one trip. The danger of LSD is that the effect of LSD is extremely unpredictable since it depends on a person’s physical conditions and also his/her mood. About one hour after taking LSD it’ll start to take effect, the user will see or feel things that doesn’t exist, images maybe altered, for example, small objects may look huge, and also mysterious experiences, such as seeing ghost or religious objects. The consequences of taking LSD are severe, physical side effects include inducing violent and hazardous behavior, also LSD develops tolerant quickly, so frequent users has to eventually increase dosage.

The other most popular thing is marijuana, or weed. It’s usually imported
from Africa, Asia, South America and Caribbean, but homegrown weed is
getting more and more popular because of the sophistication of growing
equipment. The most common effects are talkativeness, cheerfulness,
relaxation and greater appreciation of sound and color. It’s been said that
smoking weed improves performance of creative works such as arts or
writing, it also makes skin, hearing and sight very sensitive. Some immediate
physical effects of weed use include a faster heartbeat and pulse rate,
bloodshot eyes, and dry throat. The drug can impair or reduce short-term
memory, alter sense of time and reduce the ability to do things that require
concentration, quick reactions and effective co-ordination. A common bad
reaction to marijuana is an acute anxiety attack. People describe this
reaction as an extreme fear of “losing control,” which causes panic. After all,
we advise you all to not to get involved with illegal drugs, since it will cost you greatly both physically and emotionally.
The problems of teenage drug use, depression and suicide are evident in our society. These are very real and threatening issues that have to be dealt with. Going into the 21st century we have to face to problems of our future generations. There are many non-profitable organizations that help teenagers to cope with drug use. There are help lines, community services that offer information about drugs, and individual counseling is available almost in every education institution. There is help available to those who seek it. Would we ever be able to live in a drug free environment? Could we ever educate our future generations so those drug problems would be non-existent? Hopefully the answer is Yes.

Helping Today’s Youth
In today’s society, a troubled teenager or mischievous adolescent is labeled a juvenile delinquent. Yet the current definition of a juvenile is based solely upon, most of the times, on stereotypes. A delinquent may be a troublesome teenager with complicated problems at home, school, or with friends. He may have extreme physical and/or emotional needs, or he may just be a child who committed a simple mistake.

“Was he
unlucky to get caught doing something foolish? Did he run away from home
because of
family troubles or to demonstrate independence? What kind of help does he
need and
exactly how much?” (Erickson 126-127). At this point, a probation officer
helps in
making decisions that have an important and beneficial impact on the lives of
those
called “delinquents” (Erickson 7). Probation can be defined in two different
ways: as an
organization or a process. As an organization, probation is “a service
agency designed to
assist the court and execute certain services in the administration of criminal
justice.” As
a process, probation is “an investigation for the court and the supervision of
persons in
the community” (Carter and Wilkins 77). Considering the diverse definitions
on the
subject of probation, the myths and truths about the juvenile justice system can also be found.

Although juvenile crime is a serious national problem, Marcia Satterthwaite, a social worker, criticizes the effectiveness of the legal system as a whole. She claims that the system has been losing its confidentiality between the officer and the client, that it does not discourage crime effectively, that punishment should be more stringent, and that there is a “lack of focus” on the need to protect society from the juvenile (61-63).
According to Satterthwaite, dangerous children are released to commit even more acts of crime. Ron Boostrom, a probation officer working for the city of Los Angeles, agrees that in the end, “the delinquent is dumped back into the same family, the same community, and the same problems that existed before the ‘rehabilitation’” (246).
Boostrom believes that the juvenile system teaches these youngsters the trade of crime, to hate, and even become dedicated to getting even with the society that excluded them in the first place (238).

The truth is that the major cause of low self-esteem is due to the juvenile’s surroundings. In most cases, discipline, supervision, and affection tend to be missing in the home itself (Satterthwaite 180). If probation officers would not be able to communicate to others about the juvenile, the officer would have no sources of information and would be left without an idea as to how to approach a goal for the child.
If punishment were to be harsher and juveniles were to be treated and sentenced as adults, taxpayers’ expenses would increase. Longer sentences for juveniles cost taxpayers more but do not necessarily give better results, while prevention programs work more efficiently than imprisonment and cost much less. To keep a teenager locked up for a year cost more than $30,000. According to Mike Males, this amount of money is able to cover ten adolescents’ part-time jobs, a probation officer to work with twenty-five juveniles, tutor one hundred children falling behind in their studies, or provide “recreational alternatives” for two hundred children with nothing to do after school (1).
Delinquents are children who “have been pushed beyond the limits of their abilities, desires, and expectations” (Erickson 127-129). Usually, they seem to want and need discipline and direction and commit the crime either for attention, curiosity, excitement, revenge, or peer pressure and acceptance (137). Over time, these juveniles tend to mature and grow out of their delinquent phase to be able to get away from a life of crime (140).
Although probation can be exciting and fulfilling for the probation officer, Erickson states that it can also be very frustrating and discouraging because of the clients and the system (vii). At the beginning of the job, officers are committed and very dedicated to helping troubled children become successful adults. They visit the offender’s family, they interview and communicate with school administrators, and they become extremely involved in the everyday lives of those juveniles (Satterthwaite 53).
With one client, officers have a great amount of work to take care of, but when the probation departments assign an average caseload of about forty juveniles per officer, it becomes more difficult to devote a sufficient amount of attention to each individual child. “While most probation officers have master’s degrees and can provide both family and group therapy… probation departments are grossly understaffed and underfunded” (Satterthwaite 57). After contacting a client, speaking to individuals who know the offender, making an outline as to how to go about in order to help the juvenile, preparing reports on data of court, school, police arrest sheets, and previous probation reports, making decisions as to whether the child should go to court or whether an agreement can be reached between the probationer and probationee, visiting homes, making court appearances and a great amount of telephone calls, a probation officer is often worn out and disillusioned (Whitehead 37-39). In some cases, some probation officers become convinced that social work is an occupation that has no reward or meaning, some return to more traditional casework settings, and some remain in this field. Those who decide that they will remain in the juvenile justice system, are most commonly criticized for being ineffective. Three major stages describe the process of a probation officer’s job: one, “toughening-up”, two, “mellowing”, and three, “burning-out”. Burn-out is one of the most common problems of probation caused by “large caseloads, low pay, little training, and inadequate community resources” (Whitehead 3-9). Though officers attempt to give equal amounts of supervision to each child and provide beneficial impact on a juvenile, the imbalance of too many clients and either too much or not enough contact with them can cause stress for the officer and a lack of motivation for the client (41). When an officer cannot seem to separate his or her personal problems from those of a client, drinking addictions, stress, and other occupational hazards seem to result in their lives (Erickson 33). Along with the probation officer losing control of his own life, the delinquent, too, appears to commit more criminal acts because of the lack of attention and discipline.

In order to eliminate the most common difficulties that exist in the probation occupation, changes are necessary in not only the system itself, but also in the attitudes and behaviors of the juvenile and officer. One of the most important goals is to prevent children from violating any further so they can become responsible and successful adults.
The second most important goal is to protect society from the criminal acts of children.
Parents need to teach children self-control by monitoring the child’s behavior, recognizing the different behaviors when they occur, and punishing those which are unacceptable (Boostrom 181). Through education, treatment, and affection, prevention of criminal acts reaches juveniles and assists them into a healthier and better life. To be able to use these components at the earliest stage possible, is to keep these teenagers away from ever entering the juvenile justice system in the first place. With the help of education, training, and support for the staff, probation officers can be better prepared to take on diverse cases of all types (Anonymous 1-2). The juvenile justice system needs improvement. Probation officers, judges, and family members need to make effective decisions about who should really be incarcerated and/or receive probation. If an offense made is not extremely serious and the client and officer can agree on a punishment, the child does not need to present himself upon a judge. If either the client or officer want to make an appearance in court, an agreement cannot be reached, or threats have been made involving either parties or others, a court decision is most suggested (Carter and Wilkins 142).

In addition, to making the correct choices, good community programs are also necessary to place delinquents in a better environment to be able to succeed. Though juveniles tend to steal, trespass, fight, drink, take drugs, use profanity, run away from home, and miss school, many solutions were being thought about to prevent these flaws (Erickson 125). The first has already been mentioned and deals with “toughening up” and placing juveniles in adult courts. According to Satterthwaite, removing offenders from society for longer periods of time will reduce crime. Those who have not committed a serious crime will come to the realization of the possible punishments (such as life in prison, the death penalty, etc.). Violent offenders would be less likely to repeat their crimes by learning from their first lesson (64-65). Nationally, 38% of juveniles are charged with a violent crime, 41% are charged with crime against property, and the remaining 15% on drug charges. Fifty-seven percent of those arrested for the first time did not repeat an act of crime, 27% got arrested once or twice more, and 16% went on to become “chronic offenders” (See Appendix ). Though these number figures may show a step to success, it is five times more likely for a juvenile to be sexually assaulted, two times more likely to be beaten by staff, and a 50 percent chance that they will be attacked with a weapon in an adult facility. When released, juveniles turn into violent criminals because of the insensibility they suffered in prison (Satterthwaite 67-69).

A second solution was then proposed in which young offenders would be
rehabilitated, to place them in community organizations. Boot camps, for
example, are
school-based atmospheres that teach youngsters self-discipline, increase
self-esteem,
provide exercise and counseling opportunities, and help train them for a
G.E.D. A
program called High Impact emphasizes teamwork, provides life and job
skills, and
builds a sense of personal and community accomplishments (Satterthwaite
70-71). The
Girls and Boys Clubs of America help youth “participate in structured
recreational and
education activities, focusing on personal development, communication
enhancement,
problem solving, and decision making skills” (Thornberry 5). With this
program, 1990
statistics prove that 90% of the youth attended once a week or more, 26%
attended on a
daily basis, 48% showed improvement in the academic area, 33% showed
improved
grades, and another 33% had much better attendance (6). Juvenile hall is
also another
option. Although it includes school attendance during the day, educational
programs,
and volunteer services, this method is too expensive. In 1996/97 alone,
5,967 minors had
been locked up, 5,024 were males and 943 were females (Anonymous
1-3). Costing an
average of $108 per day, per child, taxpayers are paying $644,436
everyday. Instead of
using so much money inefficiently, a bigger solution can be reached. A
Youth Aid
Panels program helps to reach children before they commit crimes in the
first place. This
specific program is made from a group of citizens who are trained to handle
cases
involving first-time offenders or juveniles who have committed minor crimes.These trainers act as probation officers when trying to work out resolutions with the offender, but instead, they get the child involved with the community, and the community with the child (Satterthwaite 73-74). The people of this organization not only look at the safety of the public, but they attempt to help teenagers realize where they stand and what they need to do to improve. When these juveniles are finally released from probation, aftercare is needed. Still, more monitoring and support has to take place by working with family, by keeping a better eye on the juvenile at school, and by preventing future problems. Satterthwaite states, “America’s success… depends not so much on specific problems for punishing… but on our overall willingness to invest in the nation’s youth” (75).

In truth, the success or failure rate of the juvenile justice system depends solely upon the effort put in by both the probation officer and client. The officer can tell the offender what to wear, who he can and cannot talk to, what time he has to be home at, and what rules he has to live under (Satterthwaite 57). If the offender decides to disobey, discipline is required. In 1948-1950 a study was done on 5,020 juveniles who had been placed on probation and had been previously convicted. The number of boys was more than nine times that of girls, 4,586 males versus 434 females (See Appendix ). In the process, studies proved that not only were the majority of juveniles convicted for community offenses against property, but that towards the end of the trial and error experiment, the success rates were generally higher for females than those for males, and for those who were older rather than younger (Radzinowicz 4-5). Offenders were released and usually tend to be released from probation in two ways. The first is early t
Sociology

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