What Do You Throw Away?: The Effects of Underage Drug Abuse


It is no secret that drug and alcohol addiction is a problem among teens now and has been for many generations of teens before as well. Whether it be to fit in or to deal with personal problems, many teens succumb to addiction in many forms. Educators are constantly trying to find ways to keep kids away from drugs and to help those who are struggling.

Jaimie Cruse, Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator, says that it is very important for teens to know the risks and effects of drugs and alcohol. “Drugs can have short term and long term effects on someone’s life, it is important for teens to know what can happen and what they’re getting into if they choose to do drugs.” There are a wide array of drugs available, and more are created often. Jaimie mentions that marijuana, alcohol, and vaping are a large problem and most common amongst teens. “Due to these mostly being legal, young people don’t really see them as harmful as other drugs because they see their parents doing it or their grandparents doing it and they are prepared to do it when they come of age.” In the 2018 Iowa Youth survey, it displayed that the cases of alcohol use in Muscatine County alone is higher than the state average.

There are many external and internal forces that can turn a kid to drugs. Peer pressure, coping mechanisms, curiosity, and the media often influence drugs and make them seem desirable to the public. “I suggest trying to have fun with your friends without the use of drugs,” Jaimie says. She also suggests that all parents have a conversation about drugs with their children about substance abuse. Any teenager could be undergoing these pressures and be thinking about trying drugs, so it is important to have a conversation with them about it.

“If you’re looking to try drugs, it is important that you make a well educated choice.” Jaimie says. “It’s not enough to say no and expect everyone to listen. Teens really need to know what is at risk when they do drugs and they need to know to weigh their options.” Drugs can be harmful despite seeing it in the media or in your daily life. It is important to do the research and really know what you can be throwing away when you choose to get into substances.