Substance abuse according to World Health Organization (WHO) refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Substance abuse is the harmful pattern of using substances such as tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs leading to impairment or distress behaviors.
One of the most highly abused substances among youth in the Ghana is alcohol. Excessive drinking among the youth is responsible for more than 2,500 deaths among the youth each year. Youth and young adult who are into drugs such as alcohol and marijuana (wee) most often than not end up having a miserable life. The use of illicit drugs can lead to risky and potentially harmful behaviors, and many times substance abuse (60-75 percent of youth with substance abuse problems) co-occurs with mental health disorders.
EFFECTS OF YOUTH ILLICIT DRUG USE AND ALCOHOL DRINKING
- School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
- Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
- Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
- Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
- Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
- Physical and sexual assault.
- Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
- Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
- Memory problems.
- Abuse of other drugs.
- Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
- Death from alcohol poisoning.
PREVENTION OF YOUTH DRINKING
Reducing underage drinking will require community-based efforts to monitor the activities of youth and decrease youth access to alcohol. Many prevention strategies for the prevention of underage drinking, such as enforcement of minimum legal drinking age laws, national media campaigns targeting youth and adults, increasing alcohol education in schools and faith based organizations, reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising, and development of comprehensive community-based programs could be implemented to save life.
Ref: World Health Organization, CDC and youth.gov