Juvenile Delinquency: Substance Abuse

What is the relationship between substance abuse and juvenile delinquency. There is a two way relationship between both of them. On one hand, substance abuse leads to criminal behavior. While, on the other hand, criminal behavior promotes the use of substances in teens. Research in this regard suggest that the use of drugs, alcohol, or other substance can make a person deviant to society. As a result of this deviancy the person can commit any crime. This is only one explanation why adolescents engage in substance abuse are more prone to criminal activities. The use of substance in itself is a crime and is punishable.

Types of substances

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs
  • Tobacco
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Steroids
  • Nicotine

Reasons behind substance abuse

Substance abuse includes the use of all type of drugs and under age drinking. There can be many reasons and factors why a teenager start using drugs or drinking at an early age. There are many people that effect from adolescents substance abuse. We will discuss some of the reasons for substance abuse here.

Drug addiction in household

Many adolescents develop drug addiction from their family. For example, one of the parents or siblings are in the habit of drugs. Drug addiction in the family means that the child gets easy access to try drugs. It also means that drugs are not bad. These kids do not find drugs as something that is against the norms of the society. There is also another side of the story, some kids grow watching their parents taking drugs but they always stay away from it. This is because they see the after effects of drug addiction, for example, health issues and mental diseases.

Children living in a family where people do drugs can participate in school’s student support/assistance programs. In this way, they can meet with other people that are going through similar situation. These kids need to know that they can get help from people around them.

Friends have addiction

Peer group is a strong influence in teenage, they can influence a teenager both positively and negatively. Friends are a very powerful motivation to take drugs. Many teenagers want to get acceptance in the peer group. This acceptance sometimes require them to do what other people in their peer group are doing. Peer group involvement in good activities is good for the teenagers. On the contrary, their involvement in negative activities like drugs can make the adolescent another victim of drugs.

Availability of drugs in neighborhood

Living in a good neighborhood is a good way to reduce chances of drugs addiction. Especially, the use and availability of drugs is common in poor communities. How poverty is connected to drugs use? Obviously, poverty directly and indirectly influences the drugs use. The economic problems lead to emotional and psychological problems. In return, the person who is not emotionally stable can find pleasure in drugs and alcohol. Additionally, people with low economic status have low literacy rates.

Physical or emotional abuse

Some adolescents develop drugs addiction due to some emotional or physical trauma. The trauma can make them prone to find satisfaction in using drugs or alcohol. Some parents treat their children in a neglected way and neglect is also a form of abuse.

Physical abuse like hitting, punching, kicking, throwing, or biting are more obvious to recognize. Parents, friends, or sometimes other relatives can be involved in doing this. As a result of physical abuse children and adolescents develop fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, and depression. These emotional problems can lead to drinking and drugs addiction.

Emotional abuse is the most difficult to recognize. But it destroys a child’s feelings of self worth and self esteem. Some parents emotionally abuse their children without intent to do so. For example, over criticism, threatening, yelling, undue anger, or neglect are some types of emotional abuse. By doing so, some parents believe that they are training their children to learn discipline and good behavior. In reality, this makes a child feeling low about himself. Also, it can bring frustration and anger in children. These children find drugs to satisfy their emotional troubles.

Mental or physical illness

Some mental and physical illnesses n]make a child more prone to take drugs. Obviously, there are differences in the way each adolescent will think about the drugs. There are many factors that will effect whether a child will find satisfaction in drugs or not.

Genetic vulnerability

Some adolescents have a genetic vulnerability to take drugs. It is now evident that drug addiction is not just a habit but a disorder. There are multiple genes that are responsible for a greater vulnerability towards drug addiction. Each of these genes make the adolescent more susceptible to drugs disorder. These genes combined with multitude of environmental factors can cause a person to indulge in drugs addiction. This means that drugs addiction is inheritable because of genetic and environmental effects in the family.

This means that parental involvement in drugs render the children to a greater risk of addiction. This also mean that the children who grow in addicted families should receive assistance from schools, and other authorities to stay away from addiction.

Personality traits and beliefs

Some personality traits and beliefs can render a person to drugs addiction. For example, an adolescent who has low self esteem and self worth is more prone towards drugs addiction and delinquency. This is because this adolescent will find satisfaction in drugs from his low self esteem. Your beliefs towards drugs is very important. Some adolescents believe that drugs are cool and it is fine to take drugs once in a while. These drugs start drugs to prove themselves “cool” in the society. Once they develop the habit it is difficult to stop taking drugs and it becomes a drugs disorder.

Substance abuse and juvenile delinquency

Continuous use of drugs can negatively effect an adolescent’s educational career, future occupation, legal records, psychological, physical and social development. All this can lead to deviant behavior and actions. The most common seen phenomenon is violent behavior from addicted adolescents. This violence makes them deviant towards society. These adolescents interact with other peers who take drugs. This introduce them to the world of crimes.

Drug selling

The adolescent sell drugs for various reasons. They would like to see other adolescents taking drugs like them. Some sell drugs so that they get money to buy more drugs for themselves. Gangs and cliques sell drugs because this is their sole way to continue their criminal activities. Selling drugs is a criminal act and punishable by law.


Robbery, stealing, and burglary are a common result of drug addiction. There is a two way relationship between both. Like, adolescents belonging from poor economic status rob and steal to fulfill their needs. These adolescents can easily meet people who are involved in drugs. This can lead to the habit of drugs. On the other hand, taking drugs mean that you need more money to fulfill your drugs needs. Parents and family does not support drugs addiction financially. As a result the adolescents go for stealing and robbery to get more money.

Serious assaults

A person addict with drugs lose consciousness. Some serious crimes result due to this intoxication and consciousnesses. Serious crimes include crimes like weapon attack, murder, sexual assault, rape or attempted rape, robbery etc. It is easy to indulge in these crimes because of intoxication.

Consequences of substance abuse


When an adolescent is taking drugs the whole family effects. The family of an addicted adolescent find it difficult to fit in the society. These families get isolated from the society and there are many reasons for that. For example, other families do not let their children mingle with these families. The way drugs addiction in family effects other members depends on many factors. For example, good families try to hide that their son or daughter is taking drugs. On the contrary, it is a different matter for parents who are also taking drugs. Moral problems arise in the family due to drugs addiction.

Negativity is common in families due to drug addiction. The parents complain and criticize kids due to their drugs addiction. They also criticize them because they are not productive member of the family and society. This negativity can cause the adolescent to indulge in criminal activities.

Anger and frustration also arise due to adolescent’s drug addiction. Parents become frustrated and they unduly show anger to the teenager. This anger is the result of seeing their adolescent child not meeting their expectation. As a result of anger and frustration from parents the adolescent develop a distance from parents. This can lead to more complications.

An adolescent who is taking drugs needs assistance from family, friends, school, and society to get rid of it. The family needs to know that anger, frustration, and anxiety cannot help. They need to seek help for their children.


The person consuming drugs can develop serious health concerns. Apart from serious health concerns, the adolescent develop behavior problems as well as deviancy in attitude and actions. The intoxication caused by the use of drugs can lead the adolescent to involve in socially and legally inappropriate activities. Drugs can cause damage to almost every organ in the body. For example, lung cancer, respiratory diseases, heart diseases, and stroke are some serious effects of drugs addiction. Some of the mental disorders like loss of motor coordination, perception issues, and impaired memory result from drug addiction.

Drugs overdose is a major reason of deaths in addicted adolescents. Addiction of a drug can lead the adolescent to find cheaper markets where poor quality drugs are sold. These drugs are cheaper substitute of the original drug like heroin. These overdose of these drugs can lead to mental disease and even death.

Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol is difficult but not impossible. There are various government and non-government agencies that help the adolescents in getting rid of this addiction. The aim of these agencies is to bring back the self esteem and confidence in the adolescents. The most important aim of these agencies is to help the adolescents get rid of this addiction forever. Also, they motivate adolescents to participate in healthy and socially good activities. So that, they become healthy, get rid of addiction, and prove to be a good citizen.


Peers can get directly or indirectly effected by the drug addiction of a friend. Those taking drugs get satisfaction in indulging other friends in this habit. Many adolescents who take drugs also sell it to others. Other than that, drugs addiction can lead to minor and major crimes. The adolescent can steal money from friends to buy more drugs. Serious assaults like rape, murder, and robbery have also links with drugs addiction.


The society where many adolescents are addicted to drugs suffer a lot. Healthy and socially good adolescents are the key to success of any society. A society where drugs addiction is common cannot prosper like other societies. Drug addiction lead adolescents to become part of cliques and gangs that sell drugs. These cliques and gangs are often involved in other serious crimes in the society. This can yield to seriously worse effects on the society.


  • Bartollas, C., Frank S., Micheal T. Juvenile Delinquency. Pearson: 10th Ed. NewYork. Pp-
  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4126. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004.
  • “Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs”. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Updated on 1/30/2019.
  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2004. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 39.) Chapter 2 Impact of Substance Abuse on Families. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64258/
  • Meyers, Jacquelyn L, and Danielle M Dick. “Genetic and environmental risk factors for adolescent-onset substance use disorders.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 19,3 (2010): 465-77. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2010.03.013



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