Teenagers are likely to experiment with substances. Experimentation plays the biggest role in teenage drug abuse. Reports suggest that half of all new drug users are under the age of 18. This is because their brains aren’t fully developed, so they don’t have the decision making capabilities as adults. Their decisions are very spontaneous. Teens who abuse drugs have a greater risk of developing an addiction when they turn into adults. As such, teen abuse can have long term cognitive and behavioral effects since the teenage brain is still developing. Teenagers tend to abuse drugs for the following reasons :
• Peer pressure
• A desire to escape
• Emotional Struggles
Signs of Teen Drug Abuse
There are many signs that a teen is using drugs. It can be difficult to tell the difference between the pangs of adolescence and actual drug use, but parents can be proactive in talking to their teen to find out what’s going on.
Some common signs of teen drug abuse include:
• Bad grades
• Bloodshot eyes
• Laughing for no reason
• Loss of interest in activities
• Poor hygiene
• Diminished personal appearance
• Avoiding eye contact
• Frequent hunger or “munchies”
• Smell of smoke on breath or clothes
• Secretive behavior
• Unusual tiredness
• Missing curfew
It’s up to parents to initiate a conversation with their children if they suspect drug use. One in five parents who suspect their teen is using drugs do not intervene to prevent further drug use.
Common Drugs that Teens Abuse
The most common drugs abused by teens aren’t much different from those of adults. But the reasons for abuse may be different as teens often abuse a substance based on its accessibility. Teens are also more likely to take excessive amounts of drugs and alcohol because of how they perceive the risks and dangers.
Alcohol is the substance most commonly abused by teens. The social acceptance of drinking among people of legal drinking age can lead many teens to view alcohol as relatively harmless. Research suggests teens are more likely to binge drink because their impulse control hasn’t fully developed.
Regular marijuana users most often started during their adolescence. The perceptions of marijuana use among teens is changing; most high school seniors do not think smoking marijuana occasionally carries any risk. More than 20 percent of teens report having used marijuana at least once in the past month.
Addiction Treatment for Teens
Many teens have a tough time dealing with sadness or other stresses common during adolescence. It is understandable that they may think having a drink or a little marijuana can offer relief. The best way to deal with stress, however, is to seek emotional support or find someone to talk to.
If a teen has already tried quitting or reducing use and failed, then it’s important to receive treatment as soon as possible.
There are treatment centers designated for teens that target the emotional and social issues that led to their drug use.
Most teen treatment centers also offer educational support so teens in recovery don’t get behind in school. The earlier an addiction is recognized, the easier it is to treat.