DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE IN ADOLESCENCE

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RESEARCH PROJECT TOPIC ON DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE IN ADOLESCENCE

The abuse of alcohol and illicit and prescription drugs continues to be a major health problem internationally. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that approximately 5 per cent of the world’s population used an illicit drug in 2010 and 27 million people, or 0.6 per cent of the worlds adult population, can be classified as problem drug users. It is estimated that alcohol abuse results in 2.5 million deaths per year and that heroin, cocaine and other drugs are responsible for 0.1 to 0.2 million deaths per year. In addition to causing death, substance abuse is also responsible for significant morbidity and the treatment of drug addiction creates a tremendous burden on society. UNODC estimates that worldwide costs related to treating drug abuse total $200-$250 billion, or 0.3-0.4 per cent of global GDP; additionally, it is estimated that only 20 per cent of drug users received treatment for their dependence in 2010.

Existing studies have found a high correlation between adolescent abuse and becoming a problem drug user in adulthood; therefore, it can be inferred that many problem drug users start abusing drugs at an early age. Additionally, accidental and intentional fatalities that are associated with drug and alcohol use represent one of the leading preventable causes of death for the 15 to 24-year-old population. Alcohol and other drug use in the adolescent population carries a high risk for school underachievement, delinquency, teenage pregnancy, and depression.

Preventative science postulates that negative health outcomes, including those resulting from substance abuse, can be prevented by reducing risk factors and enhancing protective factors. The general framework used in this article is based on research presented by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and emphasizes the strategy of targeting modifiable risk factors and enhancing protective factors through family, school and community prevention programmes.

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