Effects of drugs and drug abuse on youth (2023)

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Drug and substance abuse continues to be a significant problem throughout the world and particularly in Malawi. It is estimated that there are more than 12 million cocaine users in the United States and 500,000 cocaine users in South Africa (Fabiano & Maganga, 2002, pp. 124-127). It is well known that the majority of drug and substance users are adolescents and young adults, the most productive age groups. Most teens begin experimenting with substances at an early age, which can lead to drug and substance addiction or dependency. This can occur due to progression from drug/substance experimentation to casual use, leading to the development of tolerance and physical dependence (Malunda & Mpinganjira, 2009, p. 147). The most common drug in Malawi is cannabis, also known as hemp or chamba, and hemp use is increasing rapidly, especially among young people. Almost all schools have some boys and girls smoking chamba, which suggests that the drug is very easy to obtain (Fabiano & Maganga, 2002, pp. 124-125).

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Risk factors that predispose people to drug/substance abuse are lack of mental or emotional resources to cope with stress, low frustration tolerance, and the need for immediate relief from tension or stress (Malunda & Mpinganjira , 2009, p.147). According to Arterburn & Burns (1989, pp. 42-46), biological predisposition, peer pressure, parental attitudes, and parenting styles are also some of the factors that lead adolescents to engage in such practices. illegal. The EAM (1998, p. 27) says that the lack of recreational spaces for young people leads them to seek other forms of leisure such as drugs and drink.

Substances and substance abuse among adolescents are associated with a variety of high-risk behaviors. This type of behavior can have profound health, economic, and social consequences, such as: B. deviant behavior, unsafe sex, interpersonal violence, property destruction, and poor academic performance (Malunda & Mpinganjira, 2009, p. 147). According to Kabwila (2000, p. 19), "many cases of indiscipline in schools, hostels, sports and entertainment venues are due to the abuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances". Peschke (1993, p.249) said; "Deaths from smoking far exceed those from AIDS and traffic accidents."

Excessive alcohol consumption is not illegal, but it can have serious consequences for individuals and society. Alcoholism is the number one medical-social problem. Alcohol makes a person irresponsible and makes unprotected sex much more likely, thus a factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS. It can also lead to diseases, mainly liver (Fabiano & Maganga, 2002, p.125). Therefore, when deaths from smoking exceed death rates from AIDS and traffic accidents, it is important to analyze the causes and effects of drug and substance abuse among young people in order to develop measures to help them.

According to Malunda & Mpinganjira (2009, p. 148), drugs and drug abuse are exacerbated by complex socioeconomic challenges such as unemployment, poverty and general crime. Most youth involved in drugs and drug abuse find themselves drawn into a life of crime. Police records show that 90% of criminals arrested in this country are between the ages of 17 and 30 (Dzonzi, EAM, 1998, p. 88). Therefore, it is of great importance to examine possible factors related to drug and substance abuse among young people in order to develop measures to help them.

Basic information

The Mkanda Zone is one of the areas affected by drugs and drug abuse. It is a commercial center north of the Mchinji district on the border with Zambia. A lot of business is done in this area; local shops, merchants and businesses. Many adolescents, particularly those of school age in this area, are exposed to drugs, substances, and alcoholism.

Substance and substance abuse is related to other types of irresponsible behavior, such as unsafe sex or violence. These risky behaviors can lead to economic, social, and health problems for both individuals and nations. For example, some youth engage in dissident peer groups, unsafe sex, interpersonal violence, property destruction, and others. High schools face a lot of problems because students are involved in drug abuse, which leads to many cases of indiscipline in the school. Some of the students who abuse drugs and substances do not do well in their studies or simply drop out of school, resulting in a large number of illiterates.

Adolescents use drugs and substances for various reasons such as peer pressure, family problems, level of development, stress and discharge, availability, and others (Mueller, 1999, p.317). For a country to develop, it needs its youth to be educated, to work hard, and to become active and responsible citizens. No matter what, the problem of drugs and drug abuse continues to be a major problem among children and youth. Parents and educators need to be aware of the scope of drug and substance abuse and its effects. Therefore, it is important to determine the causes and nature of substance abuse among young people in the Mkanda region in order to propose measures that can be applied to prevent and control the problem of substance abuse.


Today's youth are more rebellious, emotionally disturbed, sexually confused, less idealistic, more critical, and detached from the values ​​and standards of adult culture (Dzonzi, EAM, 1998, p. 86). One of the most critical decisions facing young people in Malawi is drug and alcohol use. According to Kabwila (2000, p. 19), "many cases of indiscipline in schools, hostels, sports and entertainment venues are due to the abuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances". It has been said that almost all schools have boys and girls smoking chamba (Fabiano & Maganga, 2002, p. 124).

Most youth involved in drugs and drug abuse find themselves drawn into a life of crime. Police records show that 90% of criminals arrested in this country are between the ages of 17 and 30. These crimes are committed daily by young people in Malawi, most of them as a direct result of drug and alcohol abuse (Dzonzi, EAM, 1998, p. 88).

When it comes to the subject of drug and substance abuse, parents, teachers, pastors, police officers, and politicians feel lost, which is understandable since there is a lot of confusion and inaccurate information compounded by some highly charged and emotional news on this subject. theme (EAM, 1998, p. 86). In this context, the main research question of the study is; “Why do most young people use substances?” Some sub-questions are derived from the main research question: What substances do most young people use? What are the effects of drug and alcohol abuse on education? What strategies can be developed to prevent drug abuse among adolescents?

purpose of the study

The main objective of this research was to conduct an investigation of why most of the youth today are involved in drug abuse and even alcoholism in selected secondary schools in the Mkanda area. Although such lessons are taught from an early age (elementary school), the syndrome seems to be on the rise. The specific objectives of the study were:

  • Examine the reasons why most young people in the Mkanda area are involved in drug and alcohol abuse.
  • A statement of the most used drug among youth in secondary schools in the Mkanda region.
  • Identify the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on your upbringing.
  • Identify strategies to prevent drug and substance abuse among adolescents

importance of the study

Drugs and drug abuse among children and adolescents continue to rise today. Today's youth are exposed to drugs earlier than ever. The study on this subject will be of great importance to the nation of Malawi. First, the results of this study will be used to educate young people and their parents about drug and substance abuse in the Mkanda region and other areas of Malawi. The results of this survey will not only educate youth and their parents, but will also help educators and other professionals working in youth work to understand the prevalence of drug and substance use and abuse among youth in order to develop strategies. and effective policies that will be to deal with the problem of drugs and drug abuse. Certainly, creating a drug-free society reduces the consequences that can arise and produces responsible citizens.


Drug and substance abuse is influenced by both biological and psychological factors. The researcher in this research work has the following hypotheses:

  • Local availability of these substances at lower prices.
  • Lack of other entertainment.
  • Missing model.


Due to time constraints, this study will only take place in a few schools. Respondents may be unwilling to complete the questionnaires, causing delays in compiling the results for the researcher. Some interviewees will not be free to tell the truth on this subject for fear of being arrested as the subject is sensitive. Money for research trips is also an issue to consider. Time is also limited to carry out this investigation effectively. Language (English) will also be a problem for people with a low level of education.


The investigator will not reveal the names of those involved in the sale of these illegal drugs and those involved in smoking Indian hemp. The researcher will also not give any money to those involved in answering the questionnaires.

Definitions of terms and acronyms

Adolescent: The developmental transition between childhood and adulthood.

Drug: A substance that has a physical effect on humans.

EAM: Evangelical Association of Malawi

HHHIV/AIDS: Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

Substance: Any kind of matter.

Substance Abuse: Refers to the use of substances for purposes other than those for which they are intended, or in excess.

Youth: Anyone between the ages of 15 and 24.


This chapter provides an overview of the relevant scientific literature. The chapter is divided into five sections. The first section provides an overview of the types of drugs and substances in general. The second section deals with the drugs used in Malawi. The third section contains some of the misconceptions surrounding drug and substance abuse, particularly among youth. The fourth section looks at the reasons why most people indulge in drug and substance abuse. The next section discusses the effects of drug and substance abuse on an individual.

Types of Drugs and Substances

Drugs come in many forms and can be taken in many ways. Some are legal and some are not (see ewu.edu/…education/substance-use-and-abuse/drug-facts.xml).

Stimulants Stimulants are drugs that speed up the body's nervous system and create a feeling of energy. They are also known as "superiors" due to their ability to keep you awake. Stimulants have the opposite effects of tranquilizers. The constant use of stimulants can have very negative effects on the user, such as: B. Compulsive addictive behavior, anxiety, confusion and insomnia. Examples of these drugs are cocaine, methamphetamine/amphetamine, Ritalin, caffeine, and nicotine (Mueller, 1999, p.372).

depressants. These are medications that calm and slow down the activity of the central nervous system. “Teens who want to relax or reduce their anxiety often turn to sedatives. Many adolescents will use stronger, more toxic doses to induce a state of euphoria and excitement before the sedative effects of the drug kick in." (Müller, 1999, p. 316). Mueller says that these tranquilizers are highly addictive and that Long-term users develop a physical and psychological dependence on these drugs.

Commonly used drugs in Malawi

According to Kabwila (2000, pp. 19-20), the term “drug” refers to a medicinal substance that is taken orally or by injection to relieve pain or suffering. Drug and substance abuse refers to the use of drugs and substances for purposes other than those for which they are intended or excessive use. Continued use of these drugs leads to addiction. Addiction is defined as a state of periodic or chronic intoxication caused by the repeated use of a drug and includes tolerance, psychological dependence, usually physical dependence, and an overwhelming compulsion to continue using the drug, with adverse effects on the individual and society. (Wilkerson, 1971, pp. 87).

In Malawi, the most consumed drugs are cannabis, mandrax, cocaine, valium, gasoline, alcohol and tobacco (MIE, 2011, p. 88). Cannabis is known locally as chamba and tabaco (cigarettes). The alcohol can be traditional drinks such as chibuku and kachasu and imported alcoholic drinks such as beer (Bisika, 2004, p. 29). According to Bisika, Malawi was used as a transit route for other drugs such as mandrake, heroin and cocaine (p.29). The main drug of abuse among university students is marijuana (79.3%), followed by alcohol (19.3%). The predominant secondary drugs are alcohol (30.4%) and marijuana (20%). The most common method of consumption of the main drug of abuse is smoking (77%), followed by drinking (23%) (Bisika et al., 2004, pp. 53-54).

Cannabis. The cannabis or hemp plant is the source of marijuana (chamba) and THC. The commonly used form of cannabis is the dried leaves, buds and stems of the plant (Mueller, 1999, p. 315). Teens refer to marijuana as Mary Jane, weed, weed, or weed. Cannabis leaves are prepared and used in the following ways:

  • Prepared and swallowed as a tea.
  • Baked and eaten in cakes or cookies.
  • Sniffed like tobacco and inhaled.
  • Smoked as inhaled cigarettes.
  • Smoked in a pipe
  • Cooked like a delight.

In Malawi, cannabis is cultivated throughout the country and production is about 399.3 hectares according to the Cannabis Survey commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior in 2003 (Bisika, 2004, p. 31). websites and others. They found that the main commercial areas for cannabis cultivation are Nkhatabay, Mzimba, Kasungu, Nkhotakota and Ntchisi. Other districts such as Dedza, Ntcheu, Chitipa and Zomba grew less.

Bisika presented hospital records of cannabis-related admissions from 1995 to 2003. The records show that in 1995 there were 205 patients at Zomba Mental Hospital (the only government center that cares for mentally ill patients), but in 2003 the number increased to 269. According to a psychiatric nurse at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, the results show that cannabis appears to be the most common drug of abuse in Malawi (p. 30).

Bisika further discovered that police records show that there are many cases of marijuana trafficking.

narcotics These are drugs that depress the central nervous system while relieving pain, like pain relievers like breadcrumbs.

Alcohol. In Malawi, alcohol is consumed by the general public and is not as stigmatized as marijuana. According to Arterburn & Burns (1989, pp. 64-67), alcohol is a food because it has calories, it is a drug because it alters the mood, and it is a poison because it is toxic in large quantities. An alcoholic is anyone who consumes so much alcohol that they become dependent on the chemical.

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Braathen (2008, pp. 30-31) listed various types of alcohol. Carlsberg refers to all bottled beers brewed by Carlsberg Breweries in Malawi, such as B. Green, Brown, Stout, and Special. Chibuku is another alcoholic product from Chibuku products Malawi Limited, which is made from corn mash and is much cheaper than Carlsberg beer. Kachasu is another type of alcoholic beverage made from corn bran mixed with sugar and water and left to ferment for a few days and then brewed. Kachasu is a strong liquor made by local women.

Misconceptions related to drug and substance abuse

Some people engage in such a practice because they receive misleading information from friends that is not true (Kabwila, 2000, p. 53). Below are some of the misconceptions that people have in mind:

  • Drugs and substances provide energy to do work.
  • Help them relieve tension and stress.
  • ease your frustration
  • Get them high or have fun
  • Give them joy and free time.
  • make them smarter
  • Then it gives courage to do the work.
  • Make him forget about his problems.

In addition to the above misconceptions, there are also some traditional beliefs in Malawi that encourage cannabis use (chamba). Bisika et al. cited the 2002 SENDU report, which reported that some mothers use cannabis to treat measles (2004, p. 32). Also, cannabis will give them confidence in their relationship with the opposite sex, while some think that cannabis can improve their sexual potency.

Why teens abuse drugs and substances

Alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs such as marijuana (Chamba) and steroids are among the most abused drugs and substances (Malunda & Mpinganjira, 2009, p. 15). Peschke (1993) presented some of the reasons why one would indulge in drugs and substance abuse as a pleasure seeker (p. 253). Life is boring, so many adolescents find drugs and substances, alcohol, as an exciting, cheap, easy and fun form of recreation with a group of friends” (Müller, 1999, p. 317).

curiosity and experimentation. Many children will satisfy their curiosity about the unknown world of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs by trying to figure out what it is like to smoke, drink, and use drugs (Mueller, 1999, p.316). Adolescents in their development want to discover what is good for them. “Some young people are always curious about something mysterious, adventurous, dangerous and illegal” (Wilkerson, 1971, p. 90). While curiosity is an excuse to start a habit, it often turns out that a character flaw perpetuated drug use.

group pressure. The strongest motivator for a young man is the desire for approval from his peers (Arterburn & Burns, 1989, p. 43). Youngsters indulge in such clumsiness due to peer pressure. "With the desire to belong and to be accepted and loved, children and young people who feel insecure and unloved at home give in to pressure" (Müller, 1999, p. 317). These are also known as social addicts or social givers; Teens who use drugs because it's social, everyone does. (Wilkerson, 1971, p. 91). Young people think that drug use is a requirement to belong to some groups. “Most teens often start using and abusing drugs and substances due to peer pressure. Lack of adequate family support, lack of parental supervision, and excessive amounts of unsupervised leisure time also contribute to increased drug/substance use and abuse among adolescents” (Malunda & Mpinganjira, 2009, p. 17). .

Availability. It is easy for children and young people to seize drugs and alcohol. “Although it is illegal to buy cigarettes until the age of 18, more and more students are buying cigarettes without asking for proof of age.” But the most incredible source of alcohol for many teens is their parents. (Müller, 1999, p. 317).

Some of the reasons why teens are involved in drug advertising and substance abuse. “Ads are particularly effective at recruiting smokers and drinkers. The tobacco industry and the beer industry advertise their products.” (Müller, 1999, p.318). Teenagers are targeted by advertising messages suggesting that drinking and smoking lead to maturity, sophistication, beauty, fun, and acceptance.

biological predisposition. Genetic predisposition plays an important role in siblings to chemical dependency. Children from families where both parents are alcoholics are at even greater risk. Reports from the Center for Drugs and Alcohol show that typically 50% of patients come from families where one parent is an alcoholic (Arterburn & Burns, 1989, p. 43). "It is becoming increasingly clear that alcoholism or addiction potential is passed from father to son and mother to daughter not because of poor home environment but because of the pattern of family inheritance" (p.44).

life crises Family problems are another factor in drug and substance abuse among adolescents. “Children who come from families where there is divorce, separation, absenteeism, discord, marital conflict, unreasonable pressure/expectations, miscommunication, abuse, or alcoholism are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Flee. "They are young people who want to escape boredom, responsibility, frustration and fear" (Wilkerson, 1971, p. 91). The life of a normal teenager is plagued with all kinds of stress, so drugs and alcohol often become coping mechanisms for teens who have no other way to grow constructively during adolescence. (Müller, 1999, p. 318). Mueller also says that today's pop culture icons and role models send pro-substance abuse messages through their lyrics, videos and lifestyles, movies, TV and even fashion.

Some teens want to look like adults.

When adolescents realize that they are no longer children, they do not want to appear children, so they will try to appear older than they really are. (Müller, 1999, p. 318). Mueller also says that today's pop culture icons and role models send pro-substance abuse messages through their lyrics, videos and lifestyles, movies, TV and even fashion.

Effects of drugs and substances on the individual

Substance and drug abuse present many risks to individuals, families, and the nation as a whole. Listed below are some of the drugs and substances of abuse along with their effects.

Alcohol. Medical evidence shows that chronic alcohol abuse leads to severe brain damage that also leads to insanity. Alcohol also causes a liver disease called "cirrhosis" - a hardening of the liver that prevents the free flow of blood, causing the liver to malfunction because too many toxins remain in the blood, leading to severe brain damage ( Dzonzi, 2004, p.86).

Fabiano and Maganga (2002, p. 125) say that “alcohol makes a person irresponsible and much more likely to have unprotected sex, hence a high risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) such as HIV AIDS. Also, alcohol robs people of money instead of buying basic necessities like food, clothing, and a good home; They spend the money on alcohol.

The World Book Encyclopedia (1994, p. 362) says that alcohol can damage the liver, brain, and heart, and some users may lose interest in school or work, or have difficulty meeting work or family responsibilities. . Fabiano and Maganga (2002, p. 124) say that alcohol affects a person's ability to concentrate and drink excessively.

Cannabis (marijuana, hashish and THC). The cannabis or hemp plant is a source of marijuana, hashish and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). According to Mueller (1999, p. 315), the short-term effects of cannabis include increased heart rate and breathing, red eyes, and drowsiness. Continued cannabis use leads to more breathing problems, lung cancer, loss of energy, confused thinking, slow reactions, memory problems, and apathy. “Marijuana users are likely to be violent and commit crimes, and continued hemp use leads to mental illness” (Fabiano & Maganga, 2002, p.125). Another effect of hemp is that the mood-altering chemical THC affects hormones in men, causing a temporary loss of fertility (Arterburn & Burns, 1989, p.76).

Tobacco. Long-term smoking causes cancer and heart and respiratory diseases. Tobacco smoke is also one of the pathogens that contribute to air pollution (Dzonzi, 2004, p.87).

Other drugs (mandrax, cocaine and heroin). These drugs are more likely than hemp to cause mental illness, infertility, impotence, suicide, or death by overdose (Fabiano & Maganga 2004, p.126). The World Book Encyclopedia (1994, p. 362) says that alcohol can damage the liver, brain, and heart, and some users may lose interest in school or work, or have difficulty meeting work or family responsibilities. .


Access. Ewu.edu/…..education/substance-use-and-abuse/drug-facts.xml.

Arterburn, Stephen and Burns, Jim (1989). Protect your children from drugs; A prevention guide and an intervention plan. Pompona, Calif.

Bisika, Thomas et al. (2004). substance abuse and HIV/AIDS in Malawi; Results of a rapid assessment of the situation. Center for Social Research, University of Malawi.

Braathen, Stine H. (2008). Substance use and abuse and its impact in the context of Malawi – Pilot project 1st SINTEF health report; Oslo, Norway.

Dzonzi, Lot (1998). Evangelical Association de Malawi. Lilongue, Malau.

Fabiano, Margaret and Stones, John (2002). Secondary Social and Development Studies in Malawi. Macmillan, Malawi.

Kabwila, Vice President (2000). Secondary education in population and sexual health in social studies. Malawi Institute of Education; Zomba, Malawi.

Malunda, Henry and Mpinganjira, Mercy (2009). Jhango, Social and Development Studies Book 4. Jhango Publishing, Blantyre.

Malawi Institute of Education (2011). Life skills and sexual and reproductive health for HIV and AIDS education in primary schools in Malawi; A training manual, Domasi, Zomba.

Muller, Walt (1998). Understand current youth culture. Wheaton, Ill.

Peschke, Charles. (1993). Christian ethics: moral theology in light of Vatican II. New Delhi, India.

Wilderson, David and Don (1971). The wasted generation. Editorial Zondervan; Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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