The Impact of Substance Use in Adolescents on Adult Functioning Student ID

The Impact of Substance Use inAdolescents on Adult Functioning

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The Impact of Substance use inAdolescents on Adult Functioning

Substance use is an issue thathas continued to cripple many people around the globe and it hasbecome necessary to shed some light on the matter. While light use ofsubstance among adolescents seems to result in minimal or no effectsto their beings at all, heavy or addictive usage has time and againproved to be harmful and even disastrous in some cases, especiallyduring transition into adulthood. Substance use seems to impact alldomains of adult life for individuals who were addicted during theiradolescent life. The major areas affected most include marriage,career development and securing of a job, physical health among othersocial and economical aspects. Studies conducted by various scholarsattempt to reveal the effects of substance use during adolescent andhow they impact adult functioning (Rohdeet al., 2007).

What is entailed inAdult-Functioning

Adult functioning encompassesmany aspects of personal life, especially at the time when one istransitioning from adolescence into adulthood. The aspects involvedin this transition are vital to life and play a major role indetermining the quality of life led by an individual. Some of themajor aspects of adult functioning include completion of education,securing employment, building a career, gaining financialindependence and stability, establishing relationships with familyand sexual partners, parenting and ensuring physical fitness. Thedependence on substances highly impacts on all the aforementionedfunctions during adolescence and adulthood. Over-dependence on asubstance is known to result in a condition called substance usedisorder abbreviated as SUD. To determine effects on adultfunctioning, research is conducted at different ages duringadolescence and adulthood to determine the progress of SUD amongsubjects. (Rohdeet al., 2007).

Impact on Academic andOccupational Functioning

According to research conductedby Rohde et al (2007), adolescent SUD seems to affect academic andoccupational functioning the most at the age of 30. Victims tend todrop out of school at early ages and also fail to maintain or furthertheir studies. Education beyond high school is very unlikely amongadolescents suffering from SUD. Many SUD victims are also associatedwith unemployment as they cannot maintain stable employment at age of30. Besides the results of studies conducted by Rohde et al (2007),other institutions and researchers have also reached suchconclusions. People with SUD who secure employment are unable to keeptheir jobs beyond a few months of employment. Most people have beenobserved to lose their employment at 21 years of age. The bademployment history has continued to make it harder to secure otheremployment opportunities that may arise. Being unemployed at the ageof 30 places hindrances to the successful development of a career andproper skills required for surviving into a financially stableadulthood. As a result, the academic background and employment ofadults with a history of substance abuse in their adolescence isnegatively impacted and characterized by difficulties, shortages andstraining (Englund et al., 2012).

The actual impact of theinability to further one`s academic level and securing employmentgets worse with age. For instance, the inability to build a career,maintain employment and further education usually leads to a reducedor no income at all. Lack of income in turn implies that theindividual cannot save money or invest so as to secure their future.This may lead to the individual being poorer due to lack of orreduced income. The associated poverty may lead to increasedfinancial stress and inability to access fundamental humanrequirements such as housing and health care resulting in poorphysical health.

Impact on Life Satisfaction

Research has also revealed a highlevel of lack of life satisfaction among substance users duringadolescence. This effect is mostly experienced at the age of thirty.This effect is however only observed to be persistent amongindividuals who do not stay free of SUD in their adult life. Thequality of life does not seem to deteriorate among individuals whostay SUD-free after passing the adolescent stage. Unless SUDpersists, quality of life cannot remain low nor do individuals whohave been treated of SUD seem unsatisfied with their lives. Somestudies made the conclusion that SUD automatically causes lifedissatisfaction, even if it is treated that is unreasonable andcounterintuitive like other researchers and scientists put it. Lifedissatisfaction is however not bad all the way. It has some positiveaspects such as prompting the victim to seek help with their SUDproblem (Rohdeet al., 2007).

Impact on RomanticRelationships

People with substance usedisorder are observed to get engaged in romantic relationships at anearlier age than sober individuals. The effect is worse when theindividual is engaged in solitary substance use as opposed tosocial-only users. The relationships last only for a few months orweeks before they are blown away and new ones are sort. The inabilityto maintain a long-term romantic relationship continues intoadulthood with most individuals ending up divorcing their spousessoon after moving in together. Therefore, the victims seem stressedup and suicidal. They are also capable of committing crimes ofpassion against their former spouses as they feel rejected and thinkthat such crimes would help relieve their stress. Since most SUDvictims cannot afford to pay for the upkeep of their kids or spouses,they may end up serving jail time or other restrictions from thegovernment. The impact of the inability to maintain healthyrelationships causes loneliness and only worsens with time as onegets old. Many old people end up in home care facilities because theylack family members that can take good care of them. Some end up onthe streets or even worse due to homelessness (Kostermanet al., 2014).

Careless sexual activity duringearly adulthood has also been associated with substance use duringthe late years of adolescence. Many individuals, therefore, end upbecoming parents at an early age than they would wish while othersend up with sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. Permanentdiseases such as HIV cause a permanent psychological effect on theindividual for their entire life. The psychological guilt and painthe individual has to cope up with could be part of the reason mostSUD victims who experienced the situation during their adolescencehave a high tendency to commit suicide (Trim et al., 2007).

Impact on Family Relations

It is particularly difficult forsubstance users with SUD to maintain healthy relationships withfamily members or even friends who do not use substances. Theinability is caused by many reasons and among the major reasons isthe lack of a common ground with non-users. Studies have shown thatsolitary substance users maintain strong views about the positiveregulating effects produced by substances while maintaining thatthere are no negative repercussions associated with their usage. Mostindividuals prefer staying away from their family members andmaintaining little contact. The withdrawal may be attributed todisapproval the individuals receive from their family members becauseof their irresponsible behavior. Peers who are better off in life mayalso pose a challenge that the victims of SUD may not take so well oreven be able to live up to. The only way is to opt for the easiestway out of the situation. Therefore, they prefer keeping theirdistance and continue using substances without interruption frompeople around them (Rohdeet al., 2007).

Impact on Physical Health

Physical health is an importantpart of our lives and must be given a lot of weight. Every adultindividual should take responsibility over their health by ensuringthat they consume a balanced diet and engage in physical exercise.According to research conducted by Tucker et al (2006), most presentor previous substance users seem not to give a lot of thought to thisaspect of their lives. Lack of cash and stable employment seems toshift priority to other things other than physical fitness. Victimslack finances to seek proper medical attention they need and insteaddepend on government programs to access medical services and food. Italso happens that due to exposure to situations that put them at riskof developing or contracting diseases, they may be physicallyweakened by illnesses (Tucker et al., 2006).


Substance use during adolescencehas a lot of impact on how individuals function during adulthood. Theeffects of substance use are not localized to one area, rather arespread throughout all aspects of life, ranging from how people relatewith others to the financial stability and independence of a person.The impacts do not end with the individual alone the situationimpacts also on other parties such as family members and friends. Theimpacts seem to be more concentrated around finances, education andboth romantic and family relationships. Most effects get worse withtime unless the affected individual seeks treatment for SUD andtransforms their lives by dropping the habit of substance use orreduce it to reasonable levels. And by reasonable levels I mean,levels that do not impair one’s judgment and sense ofreasonability. This essay only covers the impact of adolescentsubstance use on adult functioning. It covers the aforementionedspheres of personal life only (Rohdeet al., 2007).Studies conducted by various scholars attempt to reveal the effectsof substance use during adolescent and how they impact adultfunctioning.


Englund,M. M., Siebenbruner, J., Oliva, E. M., Egeland, B., Chung, C. T., &ampLong, J. D. (2013). The developmental significance of late adolescentsubstance use for early adult functioning.&nbspDevelopmentalpsychology,&nbsp49(8),1554.

Kosterman,R., Hill, K. G., Lee, J. O., Meacham, M. C., Abbott, R. D., Catalano,R. F., &amp Hawkins, J. D. (2014). Young adult social development asa mediator of alcohol use disorder symptoms from age 21 to30.&nbspPsychologyof Addictive Behaviors,&nbsp28(2),348.

Rohde,P., Lewinsohn, P. M., Seeley, J. R., Klein, D. N., Andrews, J. A., &ampSmall, J. W. (2007). Psychosocial functioning of adults whoexperienced substance use disorders as adolescents.&nbspPsychologyof Addictive Behaviors,21(2),155.

Trim,R. S., Meehan, B. T., King, K. M., &amp Chassin, L. (2007). Therelation between adolescent substance use and young adultinternalizing symptoms: findings from a high-risk longitudinalsample.&nbspPsychologyof Addictive Behaviors,&nbsp21(1),97.

Tucker,J. S., Ellickson, P. L., Collins, R. L., &amp Klein, D. J. (2006).Does solitary substance use increase adolescents` risk for poorpsychosocial and behavioral outcomes? A 9-year longitudinal studycomparing solitary and social users.&nbspPsychologyof Addictive Behaviors,&nbsp20(4),363.

AddictiveBehaviors,&nbsp21(1),97.Addictive Behaviors,&nbsp21(1),97.10.1037/0893-164X.21.1.97