Who Answers?

Young People Are Very Aware of the Health Risks of Addictive Substances

Prevention campaigns that are brought to young people are generally based on the idea of providing information about addictive substances, including alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. However, a new large scale study from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich found that young people who indulged with addictive substances are very aware of the health risks associated with these substances (News Staff).

This study consisted of surveying 12,000 young men – average age of 20 – about their knowledge and consumption of addictive substances. They found that 91% of these men drink, with half of these drinkers being considered at risk. 44% smoked tobacco, and the majority of this percentage smoked once a day. 35% of these men smoked marijuana, and half of this percentage used the drug at least twice a week (Mohler-Ko). 16% of the surveyed individuals had used electronic information to find out more about addictive substances. In fact, those who indulged in these addictive substances were more likely to actively seek out information about the health risks and effects of these drugs. The young men who reported alcohol and tobacco use were 2 ½ times more likely to look up information that those who abstained from these substances, while marijuana smokers researched addictive substances four to five times more often than those who didn’t smoke weed (Mohler-Ko). More than 70% of the men who consumed these addictive substances rated their knowledge of health risks associated with these drugs as very good (especially those who were considered at-risk) (University of Zurich).

This study showed the need for different preventative approaches. For a long time, it has been assumed by parents, healthcare professionals, and prevention campaigns that people who use addictive substances aren’t fully aware or knowledgeable of the health risks associated with the drugs that they are ingesting. However, this study shows that not only are these young people aware of the health risks, they go out of their way to find information concerning the health risks and other facts regarding these substances. Therefore, it’s a safe assumption to think that prevention campaigns and intervention methods need to form a different approach.

Information is valuable, but these young people don’t lack information concerning addictive substances. There is a lot of information available at their fingertips, without ever having to ask somebody. They can just type in a few keywords into a search engine and find all the information they could need. This isn’t deterring people from engaging in risky behavior with addictive substances. Prevention campaigns could focus more on the effects that indulging in addictive substances has on the people around them, as well as the psychological downsides these drugs can have. Of course, nothing will have a 100% success rate for stopping young people from indulging in these drugs, especially because they are considered socially acceptable. However, if information isn’t the key to getting through to at-risk young people, something else has to be – personal stories, relating to the psychological conditions, or seeing things from a different point of view. Whichever approach is taken, the informative campaigns should be put on the back burner, because they are irrelevant to slowing the problem at this point in time.


Works Cited

Mohler-Ko, Dr. Meichun. “Young cannabis-smokers aware of the health risks.” 29 July 2013. Eurekalert. Web. 29 July 2013.

News Staff. “Young Marijuana Smokers Know The Health Risks.” 29 July 2013. Science 2.0. Web. 29 July 2013.

University of Zurich. “Young Cannabis-Smokers Aware of the Health Risks.” 29 July 2013. ScienceDaily. Web. 29 July 2013.

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A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Research, Substance Abuse · Tags: addictive substances, health risks, information, prevention campaigns, young people