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Drug Abuse in the United States Term Paper


Drug abuse among teenagers and the General American population has been a significant cause of concern for a very long time. Most people have fallen victim to addiction, leading to health deterioration and to some losing their lives. The current document takes a profound outlook on Drug abuse as a significant problem in the United States. The study has concentrated on the teenagers, although it has touched on different age groups. According to the document’s findings, some of the significant causes of drug abuse has been poor parenting, peer pressure, psychological problems, and poor governance the report has provided various remedies which are instrumental in reducing the rate of drug addiction. Some of them include making medication procedures affordable, controlling the distribution of misused drugs by the public and providing relevant education to all people regarding drug abuse.

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Drug Abuse as a Major Risk in the United States
Illegal drugs have been a long-term menace in the history of the United States. It is an activity that has seen many young people lose their lives while others were left with critical health conditions. Some people might term it as a lucrative business opportunity, especially for the drug cartels, but it has been a significant cause of concern for the health sector as well as the many legal stakeholders in the country. Although many adults have fallen to addiction, it is unfortunate that among the highest number of consumers of illicit drugs and substance abuse are teenagers and a significant proportion of the youth population. Without necessarily focusing on a specific demographic and the gender of the age group, it is evident that drug abuse in the United States has been increasing rather than moving in the opposite direction. This is despite things being different from the past, where information on the dangers of drug abuse was scarce and technology to spread such important information nationally as well as globally was not available. One would perceive that the current generation is more cautious about substance abuse. However, that is not the case as statistics collected by different organizations, both governmental and private, on drug abuse in the country and addiction. According to this data, there is still a drug menace is still a significant cause of concern for future generations. The current document takes a profound outlook on the issue of drug abuse as a significant risk among the people living in the United States, especially youth.

Definition of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse can be defined as the misuse of chemicals, medicine, or sedatives for recreational activities or to stimulate the brain. By taking a profound outlook on recent global statistics, one can determine that there are over 190 million people worldwide who misuse illegal drugs, and unfortunately, most of them are addicted (Jogerst et al., 2011). Moreover, among the highest population of drug users, especially in the United States, are young people under the age of 30.

Different types of substance abuse are prevalent in the United States and globally today (Johnston, O’Malley, and Bachman, 2003). Some of them include cigarette smoking, marijuana smoking, alcohol consumption, cocaine, heroin, nicotine, and steroids, among many others.

Prevalence of Drug Abuse in the United States
It is quite evident that the United States is among the leading regions as far as drug abuse is concerned. The current section will analyze the prevalence of drug abuse in the country by categorizing its usage according to gender and also analyzing the statistics in each category.

To begin with, the tests conducted by different non-governmental organizations determined that the United States has a prevalent menace of drug addiction. For example, an international organization is known as Quest Diagnostics, an institution based in the United States which provides drug testing services for all employees, determined that there has been an increase in the number of employees coming to work under the influence of illicit drugs (Quest Diagnostics, 2019). According to their articulations, they had tested a total of around 11 million employees throughout the country. From their survey, they were able to understand that approximately 4% of the total numbers tested were positive for various illicit drugs. That was a significant rise when compared to the previous number of 2.6%. Another organization known as the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicated that 24.6 million Americans over the age of 12 had used an illicit drug over the last few months, which is also estimated to be 9.4% of the total US population. The institution also recorded that there was a very progressive increase in the rate of drug abuse in the United States since the previous tests provided results stating that the drug usage in the country was around 8.3%.

A similar test was conducted by another institution known as the United Nations through their World Annual Report. According to the organization, the rate of drug usage in the US has been increasing over the past 20 years. The organization specializes in researching information on heroin usage in the United States. According to their findings, nearly 1 million people in the country are drug addicts and use heroin as their primary dosage. According to the European Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), an organization based in Europe researched the use of illicit drugs by teenagers both in Europe and in the United States. According to their findings, teenagers in the United States recorded the highest rate of drug abuse while European teens totaled 18% of the total number who were addicted to illicit drugs (Wadley and Lee, 2016). Their statistics were quite low compared to the United States as they found out that American teens recorded over 35% of the total number of people surveyed that are addicted to major hard drugs.

It is also imperative to have a deeper insight into the illicit drug usage in the United States by looking at different demographics. Women and girls in the country have recently been the primary consumers of illegal drugs and prescribed medical drugs. For example, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) indicates that over 4.5 million women over the age of 12 in the United States have a substance abuse disorder. Furthermore, the organization states that 3.5 million women in the country have been misusing prescription drugs, which, apart from addiction, has led to health disorders (O’Brien, 2011). Also, the institution was able to determine that 3.1 million girls, especially teenagers, have been vulnerable to illicit drug usage and a huge percentage of them participate in hard drugs intake (NCADD, 2019). The numbers have been increasing continuously in the country over the past few years.

Conclusively, the institution determined that over the past few years, the number of women and girls participating in the use of illicit drugs has been more than males (Oluremi Fareo, 2012). That is an alarming articulation since girls are vulnerable to a lot of dangerous activities as a result of drug abuse when compared to the male gender. For example, drug abuse by girls leads to early or forced marriages, early pregnancies, contraction of sexually transmitted infections, abortions, and even death (Volkow, 2011). Based on such statistics, one can understand that drug abuse in the United States is a significant cause of concern. However, it is imperative to understand the primary reason for increased drug abuse rate, especially among young adults.

Major Causes of Drug Abuse Among Young People in the United States
Various reasons are leading to young people in the United States to engage in drug abuse, and the most rampant one is peer pressure. According to research, teenagers have the highest social life when compared to adults. Most of them have nothing to do after school other than interacting with their friends (Storr et al., 2011). However, most of them end up interacting with the wrong group of friends. Often, teenagers never wish to engage in drug abuse, but most of them have to do it to fit in their social groups. For example, one might find that most unsupervised parties held by teenagers have a high rate of illicit drug usage (Salas-Wright et al., 2014). Most of them even sell hard drugs. Most cartels have noticed high schools and colleges to be one of their major markets. When one fails to use hard drugs, he/she is generally isolated from the rests. Such peer pressure gets most of them to resort to continuous drug usage, and they become addicted without their knowledge.

Another major factor leading to the increased rate of drug abuse in the United States is affluence. Traditionally, there was a determination that the highest number of drug addicts hailed from poor backgrounds (Patrick and Schulenberg, 2014). Currently, the situation has changed as both social classes, rich and poor, account for a huge consumption of illicit drugs. Considering those coming from poor backgrounds, one might find that most of them survive on less than $100 a month (Humensky, 2010). One might also find that some of them are homeless. Such devastations in life lead most of them into the drug peddling business to take care of their families. Some begin by selling drugs in the streets while others are employed for transportation purposes. In the process, they end up using the drugs and eventually become addicted. In the case of young adults coming from good social backgrounds, they use drugs for recreational purposes. One of the significant factors leading to their increased drug usage is poor supervision by parents. Most parents become so busy that they are unable to realize issues that might be going on in their children’s lives (Rosenberg and Anthony, 2001). Their busy schedules leave the teenagers in the care of home employees, who, in most cases, have no privilege or influence on them. Such freedom and mentorship lead to increased drug use among most teenagers in the United States.

Curiosity also acts as a significant cause of increased drug abuse among young people in the United States. Movies and significant sources of entertainment have become a negative influence among most young people in the country since they make most teenagers and youth curious about drug abuse. For example, there are many movies and shows whose plots revolve around selling and indulging in hard drugs, such as Narcos (Keyes et al. 2011). Increased consumption of such sources of entertainment leads to high curiosity levels among the young people, with most of them desiring to understand what it feels like to get high on drugs (Chen and Jacobson, 2012). Such level of curiosity leads them to find where to get the drugs, and at the end of it all, they become addicts.

Stress and psychological problems have also become a significant factor that has added to the increasing rate of illicit drug abuse among many teenagers in the United States. Most young people have become victims of rape, bullying, and domestic violence, among many other social problems (Esen, and Gündoğdu, 2010). Based on the recent trends, most of them have little or no trust in their parents or guardians as they might be afraid of telling them what is going on in their personal lives (Keyes et al. 2014). Most of them also avoid sharing their problems with their friends to avoid becoming a laughing stock (Caris et al., 2009). As a result, they have to seek an alternative means of dealing with their stressful conditions, but most of them end up finding solace in increased drug abuse, and as a result, end up becoming addicted.

Significant Indicators of Drug Abuse Among Teenagers
Different research organizations have come up with a means of determining the prevalence of drug abuse among young people in the United States. One of the ways of determining whether a young person is addicted to drugs is by considering a sudden reduction in grades and class performance (McIntosh, 2014). It can be easy to know a young person getting addicted to illicit drugs through their class grades, especially if he or she is a smart student and has been performing well for a long time (Burdzovic Andreas and Pape, 2015). This can be an indicator that either he or she is undergoing some mental or psychological challenges or is getting addicted to drugs (Silverman, DeFulio, and Sigurdsson, 2012).

Another major factor that can aid in determining the prevalence of drug abuse among young people is when they laugh for no reason. Drugs have severe effects on the human brain. For that reason, one of its significant side effects is laughing without any reason (Terry-McElrath, O’Malley, and Johnston, 2009). Most drug addicts also have a habit of talking to themselves through hallucinations. Another way of identifying a drug addict is through their eating habits. Some drugs might lead to loss of appetite while others make the users eat more than they are used and they feel hungry frequently. Other traits of drug addicts include extreme tiredness, bloodshot eyes, secretive behavior, and poor hygiene.

Existing Solutions to the Risk of Drug Abuse in the United States
There are different means of preventing drug abuse among the United States citizens, especially young adults, and the government has come up with varying ways to curb the menace. One of them includes the employment of a psychologist at every educational institution, which is also a law (Gerstein and Green, 2019). These professional counselors are responsible for studying weird student behavior and finding ways of preventing them from engaging in dangerous habits such as indulging in illicit drug usage.

Another method employed by the government is coming up with laws that bar overdose prescription in terms of cocaine and any other narcotics and also coming up with hefty punishments, such as extended time in prison (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019). The government has also invested in funding education programs and conferences that aim at teaching young people about the dangers of getting involved in drug abuse and the measures they should take in case they find their friends or family struggling with drug addiction.

Proposal on How to Combat the Menace
Apart from the existent policies and methodologies to curb drug abuse in the general population and also among the youth in the country, various methods could also play an integral role in reducing the risk of having more young people engage in drug abuse (Scott et al. 2011). One of them includes initiating programs that will educate all health professionals, including doctors, psychologists, and nurses, on the best means of handling drug addicts (Oh, Salas-Wright, and Vaughn, 2017). Most drug addicts have delicate personalities since they might be undergoing stressful situations in their life. For that reason, they require intensive care and follow-up from both medical practitioners and their guardians or family members (Sederer, 2019).

Another significant proposal is increasing the availability and affordability of drugs and treatment programs (Bhunu and Mushayabasa, 2012). One of the significant factors leading to increased drug addiction rates are the expensive treatment programs, such as admission rates at rehabilitation facilities (Banken, 2004). The government should invest in constructing equipped rehabilitation centers and provide services at a subsidized price. Another essential remedy might be engaging parents frequently, especially by the teachers, in communicating the progress of their child and reporting any unusual behavior (Neumark, Lopez-Quintero, and Bobashev, 2012). This means that parents should work very closely with the teachers. There should be stringent rules which prevent television stations and entertainment networks from showcasing movies or television shows that can be a bad influence on youth, especially teenagers. The government should provide guidelines on how such programs should be aired on different television networks.

The current document has taken a profound outlook on a significant risk that has been affecting many people in the United States, especially young adults. Drug addiction has cost both the government and families of drug users a lot of money, money that could have been used on developmental programs. However, the documents indicate that significant problems begin with poor monitoring programs for both the parents and the government bodies. Most law enforcement officers have been liaising with drug cartels, and the rate of corruption has been increasing, which has led to low follow-up of drug peddlers.

Additionally, parents have been reluctant in getting to know their children, which could be a useful drug addiction preventive measure. For that reason, it is essential to invest in means of protecting the current generation against the effects of drug abuse. This will be instrumental in preserving future leaders and also future generations.

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