Essay by dididodo May 2004

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On the one hand, this generation is more affluent and has greater opportunities than any previous generation. For others, the tremendous economic growth of recent years has led to greater inequalities that disadvantage them in education, the workplace and in their social lives. Drugs, body image, weight, and relationships with peers and family are just a few of the issues facing youth today.

Youth today face key challenges in making the transition from childhood to adulthood, from dependence to independence. They need to negotiate their way through a web of relationships and across a range of obstacles to become confident, active and fulfilled members of society. They need to be involved to their own development, and to contribute to their own communities and wider society.

The term 'drug' covers a large number of substances. It includes legal substances such as caffeine and alcohol, and prescribed medications and illegal drugs such as cannabis and heroin.

Many teenagers experiment with alcohol and tobacco. Some may also experiment with illegal drugs. Experimenting and risk-taking are a natural part of growing up. Some young people choose to drive cars fast, while others may experiment with alcohol and other drugs.

Drug abuse is creeping into the population so quickly now that we have to assume every teen has the opportunity to buy and use illegal drugs. Some drugs are so dangerous in themselves that death can be a side effect of trying them. Some drugs take over the mind and obliterate the moral sense of the drug-taker. A teen who may have had a well-developed sense of honesty and loyalty before getting involved with drugs will steal from friends and family when in the throes of addiction. Cocaine psychosis leaves some teens vulnerable to suicide following drug use.

Teenagers are at...