Drug Abuse and Delinquency

Drug use is the abuse of a substance associated with drugs. Adolescents who are under the age of 18 are considered juveniles. The involvement of children in crime is referred to as juvenile delinquency. Drug abuse is known to impair judgment in people, which increases the probability that a drug addict will commit crimes. Minors are not exempt from this fact, as it is frequently discovered that they were abusing drugs at the time they were engaged in criminal activity. Therefore, there exists a relationship between drug abuse and juvenile delinquency and this project paper aims at digging deeper into this topic. Drug abuse is stated as the main reason why minors engage in criminal activities however it is of the essence to note that there are other grounds why minors engage in criminal activities such as to eradicate poverty, to get away from their poor academic performance at school as well as to get social acceptance. The literature review in this paper was meant to help identify whether there is a relationship between drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. In so doing, the research was able to handle both issues of juvenile delinquency and drug abuse at the same time. The recommendations part of this project treated drug abuse and juvenile delinquency separately as not all recommendations for drug abuse can apply to juvenile delinquency.

Drug Abuse- Introduction

Drug abuse by minors is a situation that needs to be addressed since drug users who start this act at an early stage are likely to be drug addicts compared to those who start this act when they are adults. Drug abuse is caused by a number of social factors, individual factors, genetic factors as well as family factors. Despite the fact that genetic factors largely influences the adoption of drug use by an individual, other factors also play a part in the motivation towards drug use. The symptoms of drug abuse involve withdrawal episodes, difficulties managing one’s life due to the intake of a drug as well as a high tolerance to a drug. The treatments available for drug abuse depend on the stage of the drug addiction. Some of the treatments include drug education, management of risk factors that may lead to drug abuse, admission to a rehabilitation center as well as outpatient follow up after one leaves the rehabilitation center(Elliott, Delbert, David &Scott). Some of the drugs abused by teenagers include Marijuana, Tobacco, cold medications such as pseudoephedrine, inhalants such as gasoline and ammonia, narcotics such as heroin and stimulants such as caffeine. Drug abuse by juveniles causes problems such as the inability to pay attention, leads to unprotected sex, lead to emotional problems such as depression as well as the involvement in criminal activities.

Juvenile Delinquency-Introduction

Juvenile delinquency constitutes crimes committed by minors. There are two categories of delinquent acts. The first category is those crimes committed by minors, but the court prosecutes these acts as if an adult committed it. In this case, the offender is a minor, but the court treats the offender as an adult. Such crimes are considered to be serious crimes for example crimes that threaten the national security of a country. When a minor is tried as a juvenile, the parents or guardians of the particular offender are supposed to cater for the legal costs of the courts. The second category of delinquent acts are those acts that minor commits but in the eyes of the law if an adult had committed the act it would not be considered as breaking the law. Therefore this type of category is simply age-related crimes such as truancy. In both categories, the parents or the guardians of the offender are supposed to pay for the legal costs associated with the case. Juvenile delinquency, therefore, comprises of criminal activities committed by minors that are of serious nature; therefore, one should not mistake juvenile delinquency as mischievous acts committed by minors. Delinquency intervention and prevention involves the identification of risk factors that lead to delinquency and addressing such factors when the offender is young. Additionally, rectification and prevention of juvenile delinquency involve creating protective factors that reduce the occurrence of the risk factors that lead to juvenile delinquency. In the current world, the number of organizations coming up to help delinquents to follow a better path in life is on the rise. Most of the organizations designed for this purpose are mostly non-profit organizations such as the Big Sister and Big Brother. Such organization not only rectifies the delinquent but also acts as role models to the delinquents.

Drug use and Delinquency

There is a relationship between drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. This relationship can be attributed to certain factors. The first factor is that drug abuse clouds the judgment of the user. In this case, if the drug user is the minor this will lead to poor judgment. For example, if a minor takes too much alcohol and decides that he can drive despite the fact that he cannot even see this decision may lead to him/her causing a road accident or violating traffic rules. The second factor that links drug abuse to juvenile delinquency is the factuality that most of the drugs abused by juveniles are very expensive. Therefore, a minor who undertake in drug use are likely to engage in illicit activities such as pickpocketing to raise money to purchase the drugs. An investigation carried out in Miami showed that in every year at least 573 opiates clients are involved in at least 200000 violations which are solely carried out in the name of acquiring money to purchase the drug.

Literature Review

This part of the project will involve the analysis of the previous works to gain insight into the relationship between drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. Data from the DAWN (Drug Abuse Warning Network) reveals that emergency episodes for drug-related cases involving youths increased in 1994 by 17% compared to the emergency cases in 1993. This data relates to minors of 12-17 years of age. According to data obtained in 2005, out of the 50000 minors who requested to be treated for drug addiction, 9000 of this number sought for the treatment of Cocaine addiction. Again, this statistics only involved minors of 12 to 17 years of age. Elliott, Delbert, David &Scott are of the view that the use of drug negatively impacts on the emotional, social and cognitive development of the user as well as reduces and inhibits the learning skills and memory of the said user (Elliott, Delbert, David &Scott).

The popularity and the drug use amongst juveniles have been monitored and captured in two surveys. The first survey responsible for this study is the High School Senior Survey which is currently called the Monitoring the Future Study. The second survey whose statistics are important in this research is the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Monitoring the Future Study survey is responsible for monitoring students from grade 8 to grade 12, and the survey has been in action since 1975. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, on the other hand, is responsible for gathering data from juveniles whose age ranges from 12 years to 18 years. The three most abused drugs are Marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol which are referred to as soft drugs. The reason why these drugs are the ones many youths abuse is because they are easily accessible to them and they are cheaper compared to hard drugs such as cocaine and Heroin. In 2004 according to Elliott, Delbert, David &Scott, 20% of the delinquents were found to be under the use of drugs when they committed crimes. The rates at which drugs are used differ based on the demography lines. Popularity and rates of drug abuse amongst youths increase as they progress into the adolescent stage and this can be mainly accounted for by the impact of peer influence. According to Elliott, Delbert, David &Scott, most youths most youths start their drug addiction journey with the use of alcohol and tobacco at the early stages of their youths, then they proceed to the use of Marijuana which makes them ready to use hard drugs(Elliott, Delbert, David &Scott).

According to Mersky, Joshua James & Arthur, children who were raised by parents who are neglectful and careless are more likely to suffer a high risk of drug and alcohol abuse as well as psychological development impairment (Mersky, Joshua James & Arthur 295-318). A study carried out by the Office of National Statistics showed that 47% of the children who were found to have mental disorder had parents who were likely to suffer from the same mental problems. Many research carried out have shown that there exists a very strong relationship between juvenile drug abuse and mental issues in the juveniles.

According to Mersky, Joshua James & Arthur in reference to research carried out by Collinson; they discovered that drug use is excessively responsible for criminal activities carried out by minors. Out of the 80 male offenders who were minors, 59% of the offenders carried out the criminal offenses when they were under the influence of a drug. The Collinson study also brought to the light that in the lifetime of a person the possibility of heroin use is 20%, 43% for ecstasy use and 54% for LSD use. The findings of the Youth Lifestyle Survey supported the findings of Collinson in that it found that there is a connection between juvenile drug abuse and juvenile offending. According to the Youth Lifestyle Survey out of the persistent and serious juvenile offenders aged 12 t0 17 years of age, 20% female offenders and 38% males acknowledged to having used drugs before their law breaking moments. The Youth Lifestyle Survey also discovered that of 75% of the frequent juvenile offenders reported lifetime drug abuse. Additionally, the study also discovered that the rate at which drugs such as cocaine and heroin are used is surprisingly higher in frequent juvenile offenders compared to frequent offenders who do not abuse these drugs (Mersky, Joshua James & Arthur 295-318).

In a study carried out in 2002 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it showed that 55% cases of Caucasian juvenile drug cases were petitioned compared to the 65% cases of African American drug cases. This study indicated that in the US many juvenile drug offenders are African American. This situation also indicates that there are more African American juvenile drug abusers in the USA. During the same year, the number of African American juveniles who were in detention for drug use was twice that of the Caucasian juveniles in detention for the same issue.

As indicated by HAQ: Center for youngster rights there has been a 7.9% expansion in wrongdoings conferred by kids in the vicinity of 2003 and 2004. In 2005 there was an 11.3% expansion in violations by youngsters. There has been a rise in various sorts of wrongdoings which is a grave concern, for example, assault (by 11.9%), passing because of carelessness (150.8%). Concerning this rise of various crimes, burglary rose by (39.6%), endeavor to kill (30.7%), arrangement and get together for dacoit exercises (27.6%), auto robbery (18.6%) and kill (15.9%) involves concern. Astonishing is the expansion in some instances of young ladies being accused of assault.

According to Johnston, Lloyd, Patrick & Jerald a research carried out in Washington in 1998 showed that juveniles who used and sold drugs were more probable to be involved in criminal activities compared to those youths who only sold the drugs. According to the study, property crimes were more probable to be committed by hard drug users compared to non-users. Additionally, the study found out that juveniles who were engaged in drug trafficking were more probable to be engaged in illicit activities compared to juveniles who do not use drugs.

In accordance with a statistics report carried out by the Bureau of Justice, approximately 63% of federal prisoners, 76% of jail inmates and 74% of state prisoners meet the criteria for having mental health disorder. The report also found out that 49% of jail inmates and 42% of state prisoners were involved in substance abuse and exhibited characteristics of mental health disorder. Additionally, the study showed that the young people in the juvenile system around 70% had mental disorder issues while 60% were involved in the substance abuse (Samhsa.gov).

According to Chassin, there is a rise in the rate of substance use disorder and mental health problems amongst the juvenile offenders listed in the juvenile system. Substance disorder according to Chassin is associated with the continued violence in the community as well as other juvenile offending. Chassin believes that the use of drug abuse by juvenile offenders is responsible for rearrests of the offenders even after they are released from the juvenile (Chassin 165-183).

According to Mehta, the Childline India Foundation researched the recurrent misuse of drugs among young people in Manipur. The study found that there was rampant use of Heroin drug in Manipur. Most of the drug users in the region were undertaking intravenous medication which involved sharing of needles a situation which has led to the high numbers of HIV cases in the region (Mehta).

From the previous works on this topic, there is a clear indication that there exists a relationship between drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. Therefore there is the need to understand why young people involve themselves in drug abuse in the first case since it is clear that drug abuse is preceded criminal activities by delinquents. Just like the studies discussed in this section have shown, I believe that drug abuse leads to criminal activities by delinquents.

Reasons why Minors engage in Drug Abuse

The first reason why minors engage in drug abuse is stress. A just-concluded research by the partnership of Drug-Free America indicated that 73% of the minors who engage in drug abuse state that stress is the primary reason behind drug abuse. According to the study, minors take drugs to curb the stress and pressure experienced at school as well as at home. The study also showed that 7% of American parents believe that children misuse drugs to cope with stress a situation that shows that some American parents do not understand how stress motivates a young person to use the drug.

The second reason why minors undertake drugs is to boost their self-esteem as well as to gain social acceptance. According to a PATS Teen study conducted in 2007, 65% of the drug abusers use drugs to boost their self-esteem. A teenager’s self-worth is determined by the social acceptance by their fellow peers; thus, teenagers can be motivated into taking drugs just to fit in. Minors who suffer from low self-esteem are likely to try rectifying their situation by seeking acceptance from the wrong crowds (Bukstein & Oscar).

The third reason why minors undertake in drug abuse is misinformation. Studies reveal that many minors are misinformed about the effects of drugs. In the US, 41% of minors believe that it's safer to abuse a prescribed drug compared to abusing an illegal drug which is misinformation. The fourth reason why minors abuse drugs is that most drugs are easily accessible. One of the main reasons that minors state for abuse of drugs is that they easily acquire the drugs. Almost 50% of minors reported that Marijuana is easily accessible while 14% state that they can easily access Heroine drug. However, more than 50% of minors assert that illegal drugs are hard to get compared to prescribed drugs.

The fifth reason why minors abuse drugs is to perform better both academically and socially. We live in a competitive world where only the best can survive. The pressure put on minors by their parents as well as teachers to perform in academic and extracurricular activities drives the minors to abuse drugs to perform better. The sixth reason why minors abuse drugs is for experimentation. Minors especially who are in the adolescent stage want to experience new things, have fun and have an adventure a situation that drives the minors to abuse drugs for this purpose (Bukstein & Oscar).

Reasons why Minors Engage in Crime

Despite the act that the main reason why minors engage in criminal activities is related to substance abuse, there is a need to identify other reasons why minors are involved in crimes. The first reason why a minor may be involved in crime is due to peer pressure. Peer pressure is a situation that may have adverse effects than many people know. During teenage years, minors can easily be influenced by peers to engage in criminal activities to look cool or to fit in the group and be accepted.

The second reason why minors engage in crime is the presence of bad role models. During the teenage stage, a teenager can easily be influenced. Therefore, the presence of a bad role model in the life of a teenager may lead to such a teenager being influenced to get involved in activities that are against the laws of a country.For example, if the role model of Janet is a gang member, let's say the role model’s name is Anna. Anna can easily influence Janet to join the gang giving her all the positive consequences while leaving out the negative consequences such as going to jail if caught undertaking criminal activities.

The third reason why minors undertake in criminal activities is to fend for themselves as well as their families. Poverty is a situation that is real in the current world. Thus, some minors may be tempted to engage in criminal activities to take care of their families as well as themselves. Criminal activities such as robbery are termed as means of getting quick money. A minor may be tempted to undertake such activities to raise money for their upkeep and that of their families.

The fourth reason why minors undertake in criminal activities is poor academic performance. Teenagers who do not perform at school in most cases are viewed negatively by educators and their classmates. In a bid to feel productive, such teenagers may attempt to involve themselves in criminal activities such as spying on their classmates which may be considered as harassment. Other reasons that may contribute to the involvement of a minor in criminal activities are the poor parental supervision and discipline, parental criminality, family conflict as well as truancy.

Recommendations for Curbing Drug Abuse in Minors

The first recommendation is the use of prevention programs that are designed to educate the minors. The use of preventive programs is the main method used to curb drug abuse in minors. The reason why this is the common method used is that it provides the drug abuser a chance to learn in detail about the effects of drug abuse, it helps the drug abuser to socialize and listen to the recovery journey of other abusers, and it helps the drug abuser to improve in matters concerning communication. There are 16 principles that a prevention program is required to use to provide successful results for the drug abuser.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) took upon itself to bankroll studies aimed at ensuring that the prevention programs adopted by various rectifiers of drug abusers are successful. The first principle of a prevention program is that it should reduce or reverse risk factors associated with drug abuse while at the same time it should enhance those factors that protect minors from drug abuse (Hawkins 226-234). The second principle that a prevention program should follow is that it should handle all constituents of drug abuse either as whole or in separate. The third principle that a prevention program should use is that it should target those risk factors that can be modified and work with them, tackle the type of drug abuse menace in the society and strengthen the already developed protective factors. The fourth principle of a prevention plan is that it should be designed to handle risks targeting specific audience characteristics or population such as gender, ethnicity or age to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.

The fifth principle that should be observed is that prevention programs that are family based should enhance family relationship as well as family bonding. Such prevention programs should also focus on strengthening parenting skills that enable parents to communicate with the drug abusers concerning this topic effectively. The sixth principle is that the prevention program can be designed to curb the abuse of drugs when the abusers are still in their early childhood such as preschool children (Webster 283-302). The seventh principle is that the prevention programs that target elementary school abusers should be designed to improve social, emotional learning and academic performance to tackle risk factors associated with abuse of drugs such as academic failure and aggression. The eighth principle is that prevention programs targeting junior high or middle school students should focus on improving social competence, academic performance with skills such as communication, drug resistance skills as well as peer relationships.

The ninth principle prevention programs that target general populations such as the drug abuse programs introduced to students when they join high school are more effective as they do not single out risk populations thus reduces labeling of the victims by others. The tenth principle is that community forestallment schemes that uses more than one approaches such as using the school-based programs with the family-based program are more effective compared to when the rectifiers are using a single program. The eleventh principle is that community prevention programs that are used to reach populations with multi settings for instance clubs, schools, media and faith-based organizations are more effective when they present a universal message. The twelfth principle is that when a community acquires a prevention program that matches its community norms, needs as well as their cultural requirements, the community should not disregard the core elements of the program especially if the program had its core elements derived from scientific research. The thirteenth principle is that the prevention programs should be long-term and the interventions should be carried out from time to time this act helps to strengthen the original aim of the program (Lalongo 599-641).

The fourteenth principle is that the program should training teachers on proper classroom management which includes rewarding appropriate students. By so doing, this helps to encourage good behavior in students, motivate the students academically and provides a forum for school bonding to the students. The fifteenth principle is that preventive programs achieve maximum success when they utilize synergistic methodologies such as discussion groups that are peer related and parent role-playing. The last but not least principle is that research-based programs for preventive measures can be cost-effective contrary to the belief of many individuals.

The second recommendation towards curbing drug abuse is by communication. This recommendation mostly applies to the parents. As a parent, you should adopt an open communication strategy whereby your kid can share with you things concerning his life. If a teenager feels that he can talk to his or her parents about all matters when the time comes, and he faces the issue of drug abuse the child can comfortably approach you about the matter. Being the parent, you will be able to counsel the kid or seek assistance for him or her. Additionally, this also includes educators whereby teachers in school should encourage students to share their lives without judging or criticizing them. The third recommendation for curbing drug abuse by minors is by setting role models. As parents, teachers and the community at large, it is our responsibility to set good examples for the minors to emulate. Having good role models in the society motivates the minors to follow into the good footsteps of the models thereby reducing chances of emulating bad behaviors which in this case is of drug abuse (Mehta). The fourth recommendation is to set up laws that discourage drug abuse by teenagers. The government has a role to play in this matter as it is responsible for its citizens. The government should set up both prevention measures as well as recovery measures. For example, the government can pass a law which prohibits or makes the use of all drugs illegal as in the case of China whereby drugs are strictly prohibited by the law. This prohibition means that minors are not able to access such drugs easily.

Recommendations for Curbing Delinquency In Minors

Youths are the future of this world; therefore there is a need to ensure that the young people of this generation are involved in productive activities rather than destructive ones. Everyone in the society has a role to play in ensuring that the menace of crimes by minors is eliminated. The first recommendation that is aimed at solving the issue of juvenile delinquency is through coming up with social policies that solve this issue. The government through its various agencies should provide high priority to programs and plans for young people and allocate sufficient resources for effective delivery of facilities, services as well as staff for mental and medical health care, housing, alcohol and drug abuse prevention and ensure that these resources are accessible and beneficial to the young people. Minors engage in crimes due to various reasons. If the government utilizes this recommendation, this will ensure that most minors in the country do not have an actual reason to engage in criminal activities. By providing services such as healthcare, housing, and education services this will ensure that most youths’ basic needs are catered for. By providing services for drug abuse treatment, recovery and prevention this will ensure that most minors are well educated about the upshots of drug abuse and its relationship to juvenile delinquency. By so doing, many minors are likely to avoid abusing drugs since they are aware that drug abuse can lead to one committing crimes unintentionally.

The second recommendation that can help solve the menace of juvenile delinquency is by coming up with programs that are designed to educate, counsel and enlighten youths about the dangers of being involved in crimes. Currently, a number of programs designed to enlighten youths about dangers of juvenile delinquency. However, it is worth to note that those programs that target minors at an early age mostly when the minors have not been involved in criminal activities are more successful than those programs that intervene after the minor has broken the law. The reason why the programs that intervene after the minors have broken the law is because at that point the minors in question have already developed antisocial traits that are hard to rectify. Therefore, there is a need to put in place prevention programs that intervene before minors break the law. This aspect can be achieved when programs intervene in the lives of the minors when they are of an early age (Zagar, Busch, and Hughes 282).

The third recommendation is that different stakeholders in the lives of minors should play their part well. For example, the parents of young people should ensure that they have a proper communication channel that will ensure that they talk to their children on the topic of juvenile delinquency. It is said that peace starts at home; therefore parents have a big part to play in guaranteeing that their children are not involved in criminal activities. Parents should also communicate with their kids on their expectations. In so doing, minors will be well aware that their parents do not expect them to be involved in harmful activities such as robbery. Additionally, parents should put up encourage minors to share about what they are going through in their lives. This act will enable parents to know what their children are involved in.

The fourth recommendation involves the duty the media has towards preventing crimes by minors. Like I stated in the third recommendation, every stakeholder has a part to play in this matter and the media is no exception. The media should ensure that minors have adequate and correct information concerning juvenile delinquency. Additionally, the media should ensure that minors have information concerning how important they are to the society. This aspect will involve information that makes the minors aware that they have responsibilities not only to themselves and their families but also to the society as a whole.


Drug abuse and juvenile delinquency is an issue that heavily affects our minors. There is a need to handle this issue because the young people in our country are very important as they are the future of our generation. Minors need to be involved in activities that are positive rather than negative. From the research conducted it is clear that there is a direct relationship between drug abuse and juvenile delinquency. As a society, eliminating the issue of drug abuse will help us solve the issue of juvenile delinquency affecting our minors. Minors engage in drug abuse to cope with the stress they experience both at home and at school. There is a need to ensure that minors operate in environments that do not put excessive stress on them. Another reason why minors abuse drugs is to get accepted by their peers and even the society. Minors need to know that taking drugs cannot enable them to get accepted by other people, therefore, working on one’s self-esteem is the first step towards social acceptance.

Other minors abuse drugs to perform well at school. The issue of drug abuse can be handled by ensuring that parents and teachers communicate with minors concerning the effects of drug abuse. Creating prevention programs for educating and canceling minors is another method for eradicating drug abuse. Another issue that minors face is juvenile delinquency. Minors get involved in crimes for various reasons such as to fend for themselves and their families, to get social acceptance, poor academic performance and bad role models. This menace can be solved by ensuring that all the stakeholders in the lives of minors play their part adequately. The stakeholders are the media, the parents, the government and even the society.

Works Cited

Bukstein, Oscar Gary. Adolescent substance abuse: Assessment, prevention, and treatment. John Wiley & Sons, 1995.

Chassin, Laurie. "Juvenile justice and substance use." The Future of Children 18.2 (2008): 165-183.

Chassin, Laurie. "Juvenile justice and substance use." The Future of Children 18.2 (2008): 165-183.

Elliott, Delbert S., David Huizinga, and Scott Menard. Multiple problem youth: Delinquency, substance use, and mental health problems. Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.

Goldberg, Linn, et al. "The adolescents training and learning to avoid steroids program: preventing drug use and promoting health behaviors." Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 154.4 (2000): 332-338.

Hawkins, J. David, et al. "Preventing adolescent health-risk behaviors by strengthening protection during childhood." Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine 153.3 (1999): 226-234.

Hawkins, J. David, Richard F. Catalano, and Michael W. Arthur. "Promoting science-based Hawkins, J. David, et al. "Predictors of Youth Violence. Juvenile Justice Bulletin." (2000). prevention in communities." Addictive behaviors 27.6 (2002): 951-976.

Johnston, Lloyd D., Patrick M. O’Malley, and Jerald G. Bachman. "National survey results on drug use from the Monitoring the Future study, 1975-1998. Volume I: Secondary school students." (1999).

Ialongo, Nicholas S., et al. "Proximal impact of two first‐grade preventive interventions on the early risk behaviors for later substance abuse, depression, and antisocial behavior." American journal of community psychology 27.5 (1999): 599-641.

Mehta, Nilima. "Child protection and juvenile justice system." Mumbai, Childline India Foundation (2008).

Mersky, Joshua P., James Topitzes, and Arthur J. Reynolds. "Unsafe at any age: Linking childhood and adolescent maltreatment to delinquency and crime." Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 49.2 (2012): 295-318.

Samhsa.gov. (2017). Criminal and Juvenile Justice | SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. [online

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price