Adverse consequences of substance abuse
Substance abuse by young people can have economic, social, physical, psychological, and most importantly health consequences. Many of these have already been mentioned in relation to each specific substance.
What specific consequences of substance abuse in general are likely to affect young people's sexual and reproductive health?
Some specific consequences of substance abuse you may have thought of are:
- All the psychoactive substances affect the mind and its rational decision making ability. Adolescents who use these substances could stop thinking rationally and may easily lapse into unsafe sexual practices that expose them to long term consequences like STIs, including HIV, and unwanted pregnancy.
- Substance abuse often leads to poor school performance. They are frequently absent from schools; they are violent in school, engage in fighting, and usually this results in their being suspended from schools because of their violent and aggressive behaviours. Less education is associated with risky sexual practices.
- Relationships with parents, friends, and teachers could be affected. Young people who abuse substances may neglect family duties and engage in frequent violence; fighting with family members or with their friends; their social reputation is reduced. Without support from family and friends they may indulge in risky sexual behaviour, for example visiting prostitutes.
- Many psychoactive substances are expensive, an adolescent who uses these drugs needs to find the means to get money to buy them. This leads to stealing, dealing in drugs or becoming a prostitute to get enough money to buy drugs. They often break rules or commit crimes as a result of which they could be arrested and imprisoned.