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Drug Use And Its Effects Of Juvenile Delinquency

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Problem Statement
  3. Purpose of the Study
  4. Significance of the Study
  5. Literature Review
  6. Drug Abuse Treatment Effectiveness in the Criminal Justice System
  7. Relationship between Delinquency and Substance Abuse
  8. Impact of Long-term Exposure to Drugs on Youths and Crime
  9. Delinquency
  10. Research Question
  11. Research Methodology
  12. Participants
  13. Policy Implications
  14. References


The best way to ensure that there is a decline in juvenile offending is by making effective drug treatment a priority. Drug and substance use are common among the juvenile offenders, and it relates to the likelihood of crime in adulthood. It is possible for individuals to embrace the use of drug treatment to ensure there is a decline in juvenile offending. As such, there is a need for the criminal justice system to ensure that they screen all the juvenile offenders and establish whether they have a problem with using drugs. Such a move ensures that the best measures of dealing with juvenile delinquency are established before the condition gets worse. If the drug treatment approach follows the established evidence-based practices, it becomes easier to ensure that the juvenile justice system identifies the needs of these adolescents. For instance, those juvenile offenders that have drug problems can be subjected to institutional care when they return to the community. It is a move aimed at ensuring that the government and society, in general, introduce different ways of dealing with the problems that affect adolescents therein. Henceforth, it will be easier to come up with a strategy aimed at establishing the needed interventions and their implications on juvenile justice.

Problem Statement

It is common to see behavioral changes in the juveniles who are mostly involved in drugs. Drug addiction has become a menace of late, and it is not only prevalent to adolescents but the entire society in general. The most disheartening thing is that the younger generations who are hooked to drugs have a high likelihood of engaging in crime. Juveniles are those people who have not reached the consent age of 18 years. These are the people who are highly impressionable, and they are easy to manipulate. Several people can help them avoid engaging in crime, with the leading societal unit being the family. It has a role in ensuring that these juveniles do not engage in any deviant behavior.

Also, they must ensure that the juvenile behavior is not controlled by those friends who surround them and that they enhance a positive growth behavior. The major problem is that these actors may fail to necessarily play their role because of the increased cases of delinquency in youths. Several factors cause this delinquency, and it includes poverty, family dynamics, peer choices, and failure by the criminal justice system to foster positive behaviors in the society. It is evident in the fact that most of the youths who have been involved in the court-processes have been found to have used drugs at some point in their life. As such, there is a common diagnosis of a substance use disorder, and it creates a relationship between serious drug use and crime in youths.

Purpose of the Study

This study seeks to come up with a comprehensive examination of the existing relationship between substance use and the juvenile delinquency. It ends up sketching a bleak portrait of how the criminal justice system is currently overwhelmed by drug and substance use among the children who are between twelve and seventeen years. By the time these juveniles are subjected to the criminal system, most of the other systems in the country will have failed them significantly. As such, the research is an inclusive analysis aimed at creating an overall overview of how different actors have a role to play in ensuring that the juveniles do not engage in deviant behaviors. These behaviors are both use and addiction to drugs as well as engaging in crime.

Also, it is evident that the juvenile justice caseloads have also significantly impacted on the load that the taxpayers must pay. These costs would have been minimized if alternative strategies for preventing drug use were adopted. The future generations rely highly on how the juveniles are raised today. As such, there is a need for the country to come up with a way of protecting the young individuals, and ensure that children do not have a platform for them to engage in drugs. It is common for the juveniles who use drugs to often end up becoming delinquents, and they will commonly be in and out of the system.

The current criminal justice system needs to come up with a way of avoiding these problems that could affect the juveniles. Arguably, finding solutions is an all-inclusive approach that must acknowledge the role of different actors in finding solutions to the existing problems. The research will introduce evidence-based alternatives or options that the juveniles can adopt. These alternatives are not for those that engage in drugs or crimes only, but every youth therein. It aims to create a juvenile justice system aimed at illustrating the role of everyone in the society in guiding the youths to become better individuals in the society.

Significance of the Study

These include early intervention, assessment, and treatment of addiction issues. It could also be better if the was the introduction of criminal justice policies and program responses that are aimed at reducing the involvement of individuals in juvenile crime. The move would also ensure that these youths reduce substance use. Even though the relationship between delinquency and continued substance abuse in adolescents is well documented, there is limited information concerning the continued substance use in juvenile delinquent populations. However, it is widely apparent that the youths who often get into trouble with the law have numerous troubles with the law. It is also apparent that their troubles are caused by the continued involvement in drug and substance use. Gaining a deep understanding of the dynamic flow of these behaviors is essential in ensuring there is a refinement of the approaches used in effectively coming up with prevention measures for the juvenile offenders. The most appropriate method is to ensure the right intervention is adopted and within the right time. All these efforts are focused on ensuring that there is the elimination of the possibility of a lifetime of substance use or any other offending that could lead to a destructive pattern in the juveniles.

Literature Review

Despite the existing evidence that addiction can be treated using medication, most of the people do not seek meditation. They wait until the situation becomes worse, and it is mostly at a time when these drugs will have led them to engage in criminal acts. As such, the continued involvement in the criminal justice system could often lead to an indication of disrupted behaviors that trigger the brain to act in certain ways. The involvement in these illegal activities comes from the continued drug-seeking behaviors coupled up with the participation in illegal activities.

As such, most of the existing literature argues that the treatment of the offenders involved in drugs offers an opportunity for individuals to decrease substance abuse (Lunze et al., 2016). It also helps in decreasing the associated criminal behaviors. This literature shows that therapeutic strategies are needed to fight against addiction, and these strategies could then change the existing relationships of juvenile delinquencies with the criminal justice system. Delinquency means the prevalence of a specific target group to engage in crime. This crime is often committed by the young people, and it is largely a manner.

Drug Abuse Treatment Effectiveness in the Criminal Justice System

Over the past few years, recurrent research has shown that there are several benefits of treating the juveniles who engage in drug abuse. These benefits are largely influential in changing the overall perception of the criminal justice system. As such, when the juvenile offenders who are thought to be using drugs are put on therapeutic alternatives, it becomes easier for them to avoid incarceration. It is necessary to ensure that the treatment is merged with the oversight that is established by both the drug courts and jail-based treatments (McCuish, 2017).

Henceforth, it will guide these juveniles to re-enter the programs that will ensure they transit back to the community after incarceration. Monitoring, supervision, and legal sanctions are essential in leveraging the justice system to encourage the drug abusers so that they join treatment and refrain from the possibility of engaging in the deviant behaviors again in the future. As such, there is no need for people to be incarcerated because of some mistakes that could easily be solved without the involvement of the criminal justice system. Behavioral treatments, for instance, could help in reducing the impact of the disorders over time.

Relationship between Delinquency and Substance Abuse

There are two direct relationships between delinquency and substance abuse. The first one is that substance abuse often leads to delinquency, and the second one is that criminal behavior could most likely lead to the use of drugs in adolescents. As such, the existing research shows that the continued use of drugs amongst the teens could lead them to have deviant behaviors. Some of the most common substances that are abused in the society are alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, steroids, prescription drugs, tobacco, opiates, and cocaine (Baglivio & Wolff, 2017). Substance abuse involves the use of all drugs that are illegal, and in juveniles, it could also involve drinking because they have not reached the legal age. Several reasons are associated with the start of drinking at an early age. For instance, drug addiction among other members of the household will lead the adolescent to start engaging in drugs. It means that the child can easily access drugs because they believe that this use of drugs is not bad. However, when addiction sets in, these youths will suffer immensely because life will not despair them, and they could end up involving themselves in crime.

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If these youths can easily access drugs within their neighborhood, it also becomes easier for them to become addicts because the drugs are easily accessible. Also, physical and emotional abuse could lead some of these youths to develop drug addiction because they are traumatized. The trauma could be caused by several factors, including neglect in the family and poverty. Arguably, the more these youths are exposed to drugs, the more they will engage in criminal behaviors. These behaviors are caused by frustration, anxiety, anger, depression, and fear of what life has to offer.

A combination of these emotional problems then increases the risk of addiction because these children will not be disciplined, meaning that they will not have good behaviors. Henceforth, it leads to the susceptibility of these children to mental and physical illnesses. Existing research shows that the mentally and physically ill persons will have a higher probability of engaging in continued drug use. They participate in crime as a way of enhancing their mental satisfaction.

Impact of Long-term Exposure to Drugs on Youths and Crime

Juveniles who abuse substances often tend to make maladaptive selections, which is a main neurocognitive characteristic. It makes them to have some decision-making deficits, and, in turn, there is a lot of pressure in their lives. These persons then luck self-restraint, and most of their behaviors are influenced by impromptu judgments. As such, they have a dysfunctional connectivity to the brain, a move that makes it difficult for them to embrace self-control or even emotional control. These are then related to poor decision-making techniques (Belenko et al., 2017).

The dysregulated performing connectivity is what makes these drug users to have rapid reactions in life, including continued engagement in crime. These drugs also have depressive symptoms because the brain of the user is affected immensely. Looking at a drug like marijuana, for instance, enhances the violence of behavior of individuals. It lessens the ability of an individual to control themselves properly, and it leads to a discord in their conditions. The violent behavior is majorly an attribute of crime because the drug users find it difficult to control themselves.


There is an undeniable link between drug and substance abuse and delinquency. The eventual consequences for most youths who engage in drug use are an arrest, adjudication, and interventions from the juvenile justice system. Even though substance abuse does not cause the delinquent behavior directly, there is a correlation with the increase in rates of crime. These are associated with out of school problems, especially those that are associated with the family. The behaviors could also be caused by the negative peer groups, lack of social controls withing the neighborhood, physical abuse, or sexual abuse (Racz et al., 2016).

Henceforth, the continued use of drugs will increase the rates of delinquent behaviors, and there is a strain in the juvenile and criminal justice services because of the minimal resources. It could also lead to issues of youth homicides. As such, these are among the prevalent conditions in the society currently that are creating more problems for both the social and criminal justice systems.

Research Question

  • How do drug abuse and addiction influence the likelihood of an adolescent to engage in crime?

Hypothesis: Adolescents that are addicted to drugs will have a high prevalence of committing a crime.

Research Methodology

A qualitative research methodology will be incorporated into this research. It will involve the use of interviews, observations, and focus groups as a way of data collection. As such, the choice of the method is influenced by a need to unravel the thoughts, behaviors, and opinions of individuals concerning drug use and substance abuse. Quantitative analysis will also be used to analyze the overall impact that these drugs have on the juveniles.


The participants used for this research will be 30. All these participants are juveniles, and they will be aged between twelve and seventeen years. To achieve the intended purpose of the research, it is necessary to include both females and males in the research, and if it is possible, in equal numbers. The participation in research will be voluntary, and the participants will remain anonymous to ensure that the research attains the needed ethical threshold when dealing with children. Notably, the observation is necessary because it will allow for continuous observation of juveniles with the aim of establishing the difference between the frequent and occasional users of drugs. After the observation period, the participants will be subjected to a face-to-face interview. The thirty participants will be gathered into a focus group where each child will get an opportunity to share their personal experiences and habits when using drugs. A questionnaire that has multiple choice and open-ended questions will be subjected to them. If possible, the participants could voluntarily be subjected to tests to establish whether they have traces of drugs in their blood system. Afterward, themes and patterns will be established from the common responses using a Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software. Statistical conclusions will help in determining the most prevalent themes therein, and it will explain the common or different responses about the relationship between drug use and the prevalence of crime.

Policy Implications

There are some strong connections between the risk factors that lead to an increase in the relationship between drug addiction and crime. Some of these risk factors include childhood abuse, neglect, physical abuse, and mental illness. It could also include family issues such as poverty, unemployment, and troubles in getting school education. All these factors are highly interrelated, and they importantly correlate to criminal offending and increased frequencies of substance abuse. From the research, there are several components that highlight the cycle between drugs and crime. A combination of several factors will help in breaking these cycles.

For instance, there is a need for the government to come up with some whole approaches aimed at leveraging the situation. It could involve coming up with an inter-agency cooperation that addresses all the issues therein. This agency could ensure that it understands a range of factors that can lead to an increase in drug use and criminal offenses, and comes up with a way of addressing them. Also, there can be the prevention of continued cases of drug dependency through the establishment of a rapid intervention strategy. This strategy should encompass the drug users and ensure they are involved in the process of developing some effective drug treatment programs.

A policy should also be formulated that allows for early family interventions, particularly in those families where juveniles use drugs heavily. There is also a need to come up with some programs that have a specific target on the juveniles themselves. This program should help in creating an understanding of the personal history of the juveniles with the aim of establishing their drug use patterns. As such, the established policies must facilitate the stated responses, and it will ensure that the criminal justice agencies also get a way of using diverse activities in identifying the risks that the juveniles are exposed to. It will enhance the screening and assessment initiatives when trying to establish a high risk between drug use and criminal offenses. Notably, the key theme when coming up with policy implications is to ensure that there is the establishment of early intervention programs. These programs should specifically target the juveniles that are more exposed to the threat of drug abuse and offending.


  1. Baglivio, M., & Wolff, K. (2017). Prospective prediction of juvenile homicide/attempted homicide among early-onset juvenile offenders. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(2), 197.
  2. Belenko, S., Knight, D., Wasserman, G. A., Dennis, M. L., Wiley, T., Taxman, F. S., ... & Sales, J. (2017). The Juvenile Justice Behavioral Health Services Cascade: a new framework for measuring unmet substance use treatment services needs among adolescent offenders. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 74, 80-91.
  3. Lunze, K., Idrisov, B., Golichenko, M., & Kamarulzaman, A. (2016). Mandatory addiction treatment for people who use drugs: global health and human rights analysis. Bmj, 353, i2943.
  4. McCuish, E. C. (2017). Substance use profiles among juvenile offenders: A lifestyles theoretical perspective. Journal of Drug Issues, 47(3), 448-466.
  5. Racz, S. J., Saha, S., Trent, M., Adger, H., Bradshaw, C. P., Goldweber, A., & Cauffman, E. (2016, April). Polysubstance use among minority adolescent males incarcerated for serious offenses. In Child & youth care forum (Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 205-220). Springer US.
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Drug Use And Its Effects Of Juvenile Delinquency. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from
“Drug Use And Its Effects Of Juvenile Delinquency.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
Drug Use And Its Effects Of Juvenile Delinquency. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Dec. 2023].
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