Juvenile Delinquency and Substance Abuse

Adolescent Substance Abuse

When young people engage in alcohol and other drug use, they, their families, and their communities usually suffer. In some cases, because of the strong association between substance abuse and delinquency, an increased burden is also placed on the juvenile justice system.

Since 1992, the high rate of illicit drug use among youth has been steadily increasing.

Consequences of Adolescent Substance Abuse

Persistent substance abuse among youth is often accompanied by an array of problems, including academic difficulties, health-related consequences, poor peer relationships, mental health issues, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. There are also significant consequences for family members, the community, and society in general.

PhotoConnection Between Adolescent Substance Abuse and Delinquency

Possession and use of alcohol and other drugs are illegal for all youth. Because substance abuse and delinquency are inextricably linked, arrest, adjudication, and intervention by the juvenile justice system are eventual consequences for many young people engaged in such behavior. Substance abuse and delinquency often share the common factors of school and family problems, negative peer groups, lack of neighborhood social controls, and a history of physical or sexual abuse (Hawkins et al., 1987; Wilson and Howell, 1993). Substance abuse is also associated with violent and income-generating crime by youth, which increases community residentsí level of fear and the demand for juvenile and criminal justice services, thereby further increasing the burden on these resources. Gangs, drug trafficking, prostitution, and youth homicides are other related social and criminal justice problems often linked to adolescent substance abuse.

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