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Substance Abuse and Youth Violence

Substance Abuse

In terms of the contemporary state of society and its rapid pace of advancing into the future, it is possible to outline one of the most alarming problems – substance abuse and youth violence. These two phenomena represent the biggest threat to the development of the nation and its welfare. The following research focuses on the evaluation of substance abuse and its scope, related risk factors, the connection between youth violence and substance abuse, and various forms of violence. By the end of the paper, it will be obvious what reasons lead to substance abuse and violent behavior among youth.

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Substance Abuse and its Scope in the Community

Substance abuse is a patterned use of drugs, chemicals, and alcohol with methods or amounts, which harm the human body and lead to substance-related disorders and addiction. Such addictions entail emotional, physical, and psychological damage. In the majority of cases, substance abuse starts taking place in the teenage years and may continue to evolve further in life. The list of substances, which can cause addiction, includes tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, hashish, Ecstasy, LSD, ketamine, lighter fluid, morphine, and many others. In fact, every chemical element and substance results in significant damage and a negative influence on the human body. Teenagers tend to attempt to hide substance abuse as long as possible. In fact, abnormal changes in the behavior and relations with family and friends can become the first signs of substance abuse.

In addition, the growing need for cash and alteration in the energy level are also indicators of suspicious activity, which may be related to substance abuse. In general, some physical signs, which include red eyes, inability to concentrate, delayed reaction, and increased appetite, can point to substance abuse as well. As long as the discussed phenomenon has a variety of physiological and psychological consequences, it is highly important to take action as soon as it becomes obvious that an individual became addicted to substances.

It is difficult to estimate the scope of substance abuse within the community, but it is easy to understand the significance of the problem based on the statistical data reflecting the use of the most widespread substances. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016), marijuana was one of the most widely used drugs (22,2 million people) in 2014 (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016). This fact proves that the scope of the problem is enormous and provides a sufficient reason to worry about the future of children and further generations.

Substance Abuse Risk Factors

The diversity of risk factors associated with substance abuse includes several aspects and circumstances that are related to the sphere of activity of individuals. First, it is necessary to start from early aggressive behavior, which can be manifested within the usual conduct of the person. It becomes one of the triggers, which lead to abnormal decision-making process resulting in the making of unhealthy choices. In combination with stress, aggression can result in an increased level of substance abuse.

Another risk factor focuses on the lack of parental supervision, which also refers to childhood and teenage years. It can occur within a family, where a child does not receive enough care and attention from parents. In this way, it becomes impossible to protect an individual from unhealthy life choices. In addition, it leads to further alienation of a person from parents and relatives, who did not support him/her earlier in life.

Drug availability is another risk factor, which represents a threat to an individual’s sphere of activity. For example, school and night-club can become sources of drug spread. Finally, poverty is the most influential risk factor, which leads to the development of inappropriate habits destroying health. Poor living conditions can entail stress and depression, which inspires an individual to find a strong distraction. As a result, substance abuse becomes the key to avoid routine problems and escape the tension of poverty.

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The most widely used drugs include marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, morphine, and LSD. Marijuana is a psychoactive substance, which is the most widely used drug in the world. It causes an overall change in mental and physical perception leading sometimes even to euphoria. Marijuana is used for medical purposes as well. Heroin is also used as a drug because of its euphoric effects.

However, a doctor may prescribe it as a painkiller. Methamphetamine is a strong stimulant of the central nervous system, which is widely spread as a recreational drug. Additionally, it has functions of aphrodisiac and euphoriant, which leads to neurotoxicity. Morphine, in its turn, is another painkiller, which can cause abuse and addiction. Moreover, it has a myriad of side effects including vomiting, low blood pressure, and decreased respiratory effects. Finally, LSD is a psychedelic drug, which leads to hallucinations and various psychological changes. It causes paranoia, anxiety, and delusions.

Substance Abuse and Violence

Unfortunately, the contemporary crime rate and substance abuse have a direct connection. Today, 80% of offenders abuse alcohol or drugs (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 2015). For example, alcohol becomes the trigger of violent behavior by minimizing the feeling of reality and providing the inability to estimate the consequences of personal actions. In this way, this substance reduces the feeling of responsibility for violent behavior. Child abuse, rape, murder, spousal abuse, and violent crimes often include alcohol abuse. In combination with anger and anxiety, this substance releases one’s intentions to act in whatever way he/she decides.

Drug abuse also has a connection to crimes and violent behavior, which leads to the lack of feeling the reality of the surrounding environment. As long as a thinking process cannot flow in a sober mode, an individual cannot take full responsibility for his/her personal actions. In such cases, criminals feel free, fierce, and powerful enough to do anything they want. Moreover, the majority of arrested teenagers are under the influence of alcohol or other substances. In this way, the connection between violence and substance abuse becomes obvious.

Forms of Violence among Youth

In contemporary society, youth is involved in different forms of violence. Moreover, young people have become a source of violence, which continues to destroy social welfare and sustainability. In fact, it is possible to outline such forms of violence as dating violence, bullying, domestic violence, child abuse, gun violence, suicide, and school shootings (Storer, Casey, & Herrenkohl, 2016).

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Under the influence of substance abuse, the named above vices continue to evolve among youth. For example, bullying is the most widespread problem, which involves teenagers. The struggle for power and an unprecedented desire to influence others leads to various socially unfair actions. The support of such acts with substance abuse causes gun violence and child abuse (Tyler & Melander, 2015).

In general, all these forms of violence have the same risk factors as substance abuse. Internal aggression and lack of parental supervision result in the desire of teenagers to show their independence and ability to take care of themselves without their parents’ help. Poverty is also another trigger, which leads to inappropriate actions and choices. In general, all these factors have a direct connection to substance abuse and should be resolved in the complex.


The research indicated that substance abuse is a significant problem, which still cannot find its solution. It is one of the most dangerous and difficult social issues, which continues to affect millions of families across the nation. Substance abuse involves not only teenagers but also adults. The majority of crimes and violent cases happen under the influence of substances. In addition, there is a direct connection between violent behavior and alcohol ingestion. Finally, the discussed risk factors of substance abuse and violence among youth prove that it is difficult for contemporary children and teenagers to avoid substance abuse or being victims of youth violence.

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