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Ethics And Counseling

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A Look at Peer Pressure: Teen Age Drugs and Alcohol Consumption

Abdullah Conte

Brown University


This paper covers a lot of issues as peer pressure is concerned. As one read on, the factors explored, give us a good reasoning of how teens, adolescents face problem especially growing up in this challenging and contemporary world. Statistics gathered from different sources and the world wide web, the DSM IV is used to describe some of the diagnosis associated with the activities most youths are involved with.

Drug Addiction

Drug use is an increasing problem among teenagers in today's high schools. Most drug use begins in the teenage years; these years are the most crucial in the maturing process. During these years adolescents are faced with the difficult tasks of discovering their self identity, clarifying their sexual roles, assenting independence, learning to cope with authority figures and searching for goals that would give their lives meaning. Drugs are readily available, adolescents are curious and venerable, and there is peer pressure to experiment, and there is 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 leads 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 the person's social group. 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 has no intentions of using drugs, they might do it just to be considered "cool" by his/her friends. Today drugs are considered to be acceptable by many teenagers.

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 drug experiences, or reactions of drug usage. Examples include," 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 their 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. The final and the most disastrous stage is 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 others 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 and can lead to attempted suicide. Many studies have found that drugs are a contributing factor to suicide. Using drugs may reduce inhibitions and impair

judgment, 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 kids, the problems gets even more serious if it involves additive substances such as cocaine.


"In 1991, a study by the United States Surgeon General's office stated that 8 million out of the 20.7 million young people in grades 7 through 12 drank alcoholic beverages every week. It went on to say that 454,000 of those youngsters reported weekly binges (Czikszentmihalyi, p21)." In the United States and all over the world underage teens are drinking, and it may be because they just don't know about alcohol and its effects (Monroe 56). Underage or teen drinking is a major problem today that is increasing more and more, and something needs to be done to stop this increase and to control the number of underage drinkers.

There are many statistics that show just how big this problem is amongst our youth. One frightening statistic that shows how much this problem has been increasing is that between 1948 and 1988 the percent of teen drinkers increased by 57 percent (Nielsen Research). Many parents may think that their child may not drink until they are much older, but the average age that teenagers try alcohol is between the ages twelve and sixteen (9). Also, a 1995 study taken by the University of Michigan stated that 35 out of 100 high school seniors drank 5 or more drinks at one time at least once during their two week survey period (Juovonen p10). "A recent poll by the National Association of Student Councils found that alcohol was the leading school problem and 46 percent [of students] said it was the school's most serious problem (Monroe 53)." This may be because alcohol is very dangerous because it is a poisonous drug that can be very addictive (Juovonen p6).

Each state has its own legal



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