Adolescence means both ‘a period’ and ‘a process’ during which a child becomes mature in terms of his/her attitudes and beliefs for effective participation in society.
The period between 12-18 years of age may be thought of as adolescence period. In other words, adolescence is a bridge linking childhood and adulthood.
Adolescence is accompanied by several biological and behavioural changes. Adolescence, thus is a very vulnerable phase of mental and psychological development of an individual.
Curiosity, need for adventure and excitement, and experimentation, constitute common causes, which motivate youngsters towards drug and alcohol use. A child’s natural curiosity motivates him/her to experiment.
This is complicated further by effects that might be perceived as benefits, of alcohol or drug use. Thus, the first use of drugs or alcohol may be out of curiosity or experimentation, but later the child starts using these to escape facing problems.
Of late, stress, from pressures to excel in academics or examinations, has played a significant role in persuading the youngsters to try alcohol and drugs.
The perception among youth that it is ‘cool’ or progressive to smoke, use drugs or alcohol, is also in a way a major cause for youth to start these habits. Television, movies, newpapers, internet also help to promote this perception.
Other factors that have been seen to be associated with drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents are unstable or unsupportive family structures and peer pressure.