• Kerenza Ryan

Drug Use and Juvenile Justice

Sometimes, drug experimentation is considered common for teenagers. While it can be easy to see this as harmless, there is a link between drug abuse and juvenile justice that would be ignorant to ignore. For example, 77% of youth who are involved in the criminal justice system report drug use in the last six months, and almost half are considered to have a substance use disorder. For many, this is related to marijuana, one of the drugs most considered “harmless” at this time.

This does not necessarily prove that drug use causes juvenile justice involvement, or that involvement in the criminal justice system causes drug use. Most likely, it is a lot more complicated than that. It’s possible that they both play into each other. There are also certain traumas and such that are risk factors for both drug use and juvenile justice involvement.

It may be worth mentioning that in 2008, only about ten percent of juvenile justice cases were directly linked to drugs and alcohol. However, there may have been more indirectly linked, and there are youth struggling with substance use disorders who are not involved in the criminal justice system.

By getting rid of the idea that experimentation is not a major issue, it is possible to see less juvenile justice system involvement, and by having better care for our youth in the juvenile justice system we may see less substance abuse disorders. Though we may not be positive how or why these two play into each other, it is hard to look at the data and say that they are not related in some way.

While it is impossible to guarantee that any one thing will serve to lower substance abuse or youth recidivism, it is worth trying everything in our power that may keep our youth safe. There are a number of factors that can lower risk, and many are talked about in other blog posts here, but WonderSeed itself is doing its part in this battle. Being involved in WonderSeed today can help you do your part as well.

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