Drug Use Among Young British People


Drug use and abuse among British youth have been on the increase, especially in the recent past. This has raised much concern to most parents and the country in general. This has led to the question as to why most of these youth have turned to drugs. In response, this paper is going to highlight some of the reasons which contribute to increased drug use based on secondary sources. To do this, the paper will categorize the contributing factors into four categories, namely the biological/psychological, behavioral/ attitudinal factors, Interpersonal and socioeconomic factors. A conclusion will then be drawn based on the discussion made.

Biological/ psychological factors

These reasons for drug use are biological and psychological at a personal level and are basically hard to change. Studies have shown that the social role of a young Briton, otherwise his or her gender, can influence the tendency of youth to use drugs. British youth who are busy with social responsibilities have minimal drug use compared to idlers. Since most drug users are youth or started using while they were youth, most young people tend to use drugs because they think it is a thing for the youth. On the issue of life events, youth sexual trauma is a factor of ecstasy cocaine use (Whiteman 48). Some youth who have been emotionally abused by their caretakers or their fellow young partners have also turned to drug use. The same has also been happening in cases where youth have poor relationships with their parents or any other activity that may lead the youth to a feeling of low self-esteem. Search for personal pleasure has led to drug use, especially the use of cannabis. The involvement of youth in stressful activities or shocking information leads to depression or anxiety, and this may necessitate the use of drugs, thinking that they will get rid of the stressful phenomenon only to realize drug use brings temporary relief. A range of other factors related to mental health and psychological status that may lead to drug use and misuse among the youth include suicidality, phobic disorders, and neurobehavioral disorders. Adolescents who have learning difficulties tend to use drugs more than those who are apt. Other youths use cannabis because of the belief that it will stimulate their minds and think faster, especially in academic work. Studies have interestingly revealed that drug abuse among the youth has a genetic link. It has been established that about 45 % of the variance in the use of cannabis is accounted for by genetic factors (Gerrard 1058). Familial factors have a very strong relationship with substance dependence than with substance abuse, with an associated risk of about 55 percent. However, the recent rise in drug use prevalence among the youth can not be attributed to genetic factors because these factors are operative in the long term.

Behavioral/ attitudinal factors

These factors contributing to drug use among the youth are personal and easier to alter through the use of anti-drug policies or through life changes, as compared to the above discussed biological and psychological factors. The early onset of consuming cannabis is strongly associated with the abuse of the same drug substance during the mid and late youth age. Family histories such as mental disorders among parents and early death of parents, as well as prior experiences in the use of legal drugs, have a key role in influencing youngsters to start consuming cannabis and other hard drugs and later transition to drug-related disorders among adolescents and young adults. The use of inhalants at earlier years of youth age causes the tendency to begin using hard drugs like heroin at later years of youth age, especially around 32 years (Lewinsohn 1226). Long-term perception of drugs as being of low risk to youths’ health has led to higher levels of drug use. On a light note, religious teachings have not been taken seriously by most youths. Almost all religions have teachings that denounce drug use and abuse. Due to their defiant behavior, most youths have resulted in the use addicting drugs despite the religious teachings. Most youths are funned and form the cheering audience in many sports activities. During this time, they like feeling happy and acting in multitude. Most youths have used drugs for the first time during and immediately after such sports events. This goes in line with periods of live concerts by famous musicians, especially reggae music that has a deep connection with cannabis, which they term as the ‘international herb.’ Unique experiences by a single youngster and experiences by siblings who have been raised together in a given family lifestyle may contribute to whether the youth will indulge in drug-related activities (Kaestner 498). Behavioral problems of a young person have led to drug use. For example, contextual violence and during resolution of a conflict through physical aggression may lead a person to use drugs, thinking that they will stimulate her to react more or thinking they will make him or her to be more energetic. Sadly, most have ended being defeated because the drugs only create such illusions in the mind but do not add physical strength to a person.

Interpersonal relationships

As discussed in this paper, these reasons are at a personal level also but are in relation to how young persons relate with their families and their friends. They are basically interpersonal relationships. These factors are also related to the characteristics of their families, peers, and other people who are close to them. The size and the structure of a family sometimes influence drug-taking habits among the youth. This addresses whether youths have been brought up by young or older parents, in large or smaller families, and by a couple or by a single parent (single mother or single father) or in a family set up where the parents have divorced (Rosen 290). In larger families, the influence to start taking drugs among the smaller siblings comes from their older siblings rather than from their parents. In cases where youth are brought up by a widowed mother, they are less likely to indulge in drug use compared to if they were brought up by a single father, especially if the father uses drugs. This is associated with the example the parent may set. Low parental discipline, less cohesion, and family ties, as well as lack of parental monitoring of the way their children carry on with life, have led to falling into drug use traps for many youths. The parents carry all the blame for this kind of irresponsibility. Some parents have also set a good example but have no time to spend with their children and give them parental guidance on the risks and dangers of taking drugs. The children have found misleading advice from their already drug-taking peers, and this way, they have joined them in drug taking. Parental substance misuse, father’s SUD, and also substance use by the older siblings have been established to have a positive relationship with drug use and drug abuse among the adolescents and youth (Haines 247). Parents who smoke may face a challenge in advising their children to refrain. Most youth in Britain are and have been offered drugs or have been introduced to drug-taking and consumption of other illicit substances by their friends when they form close relationships.

Environmental and socioeconomic factors

Another category of reasons that have led much British youth to drug use and misuse is based on the structure of society which encompasses economic and environmental factors which are to a large extent or entirely outside the control capabilities of the young British. First, the socioeconomic status of a young person in Britain has been a major factor leading youth to drugs. Usually, youth who are poorly placed on the social ladder have found their way to affordable illicit drugs, while youth from noble families use the expensive hard drugs because they can afford to purchase and are connected to people who peddle them in big clubs and restaurants (Rahdert 258). Drug dependence disorders have been reported by several scholarly writers to vary across the various socioeconomic groups of young people in Britain. Research reports have also shown that indicators of local public utilities and amenities have, though indirect, association with the attitudes of parents towards drugs, and this, in turn, is an indicator of how drug use among the use has been a big problem to the parents in the local setups.

Another set of factors that lead to drug use is concerned with the system of education, school performance, and how the schools where most adolescents go are managed. The exposure to risky and tempting environments within the main domain of youth’s life, which is mainly the family, the school, the family neighborhood, and psychological environments, have significantly increased the influence of these youths in getting involved in drug handling and use, either directly or indirectly. The use of drugs among school adolescents and youth are also motivated by poor management of the schools, low commitment of the management in handling drug issues, poor performance by students and the school in general, as well as bullying activities in the school by students. Youth in Britain consume drugs because they live in environments where they are readily available. The fall of drug prices has mainly contributed to increased drug consumption among adolescents (Lloyd 225). Due to this factor, most youths have been accessible to drugs or have been able to buy extra drugs to offer to their friends.


The causes of increased drug use among the youth are because of factors within their control and also beyond their control. Much of it is from peer influence and bad company. Most parents have also neglected children and failed to allocate adequate time to spend with them. In the recent past, the affordability of most drugs has led to easy access to drugs. The environment in which youth have been brought up and the bad or good example set by parents have also contributed. The family structure and status of parents (single, divorced, or widowed) have also contributed.

Works cited

Gerrard, Gibbons. “Environment and socioeconomic influence on substance use.” Social Psychology Bulletin 30 (2004): 1048-1061.

Haines, Klein. “Preventing youth drug.” Journal of Substance Use 8 (2003): 243-251.

Kaestner, Rashad. “The cause of risky behaviors.” Journal of Health Economics 23 (2004): 493-503.

Lewinsohn, Peter. “Psychosocial risk factors for substance abuse among the youth.” AACAP Journal 34 (2004): 1221-1229.

Lloyd, Colliver. “Risk factors for use and misuse of drugs”: Education, Control and Policy on Drugs 5 (1999): 217-232.

Raiders, Weinberg. “Substance abuse among adolescents review for the last 10years.” Journal of Adolescent Psychiatry 38 (2001): 252-261.

Rosen, Brook. “Marijuana use among adolescents.” Journal of Adolescent Health 31(2002), 286-298.

Whiteman, Finch. “Adolescents and social-environment antecedents.” Journ. of Genetic Psychology 161 (2000): 37-51.

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