Drug abuse and addiction are damaging to mental health, physical health, and social well-being. Teenage drug addiction is particularly serious because having an untreated substance use disorder (SUD) damages health and makes it difficult for young people to focus on their education. An additional danger of teen drug abuse is that it impairs their judgment and makes it more likely that they will take part in risky behaviors.
Teenage drug abuse and addiction could involve a number of substances, including prescription drugs, alcohol, household products, and other drugs sold illicitly on the street. Whatever the nature of the young person's use, there are common warning signs that you can look out for. There is also treatment available to help teenagers say goodbye to drug abuse.
Drug and alcohol use can lead to dependence and addiction. These terms are often used interchangeably but are different phenomena. Both develop gradually with substance use and make quitting very difficult. Drug dependence occurs when the body has adjusted to a point where it feels it needs the drug to function normally. When the person stops taking it they experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a chronic disorder that causes the person to lose control over their substance use. They compulsively seek out and take the substance to which they are addicted despite negative consequences such as social, mental, and physical health issues.
Efforts to prevent teen drug abuse have to focus on several areas because the term drug abuse has a variety of meanings, particularly in this age group.
A wide range of factors can make teenagers vulnerable to developing a drug addiction.
One of the biggest risk factors for teenage drug addiction is mental health disorders. Teenagers may use substances to self-medicate or to ease stress and social anxiety. Research shared by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that over 60 percent of adolescents in treatment also had a co-occurring mental health disorder.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that where drug use in teens is concerned, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the most used substances. By 12th grade, two-thirds of students have tried alcohol, and two in ten 12th graders have used a prescription drug without a prescription. Half of students from 9th to 12th grade reported using marijuana at some point in their life, and four in ten reported having tried cigarettes.
Recognizing signs of drug use in teens is important because you may be able to detect a substance misuse problem before it develops into an addiction.
Each drug produces its own side effects, but some signs of substance abuse are common to a number of drugs. If your teen has a substance use issue, they might not present all of these signs. It's important to remember that these symptoms could also indicate other health problems.
There are also behavioral signs to look out for that indicate that addiction may have developed. You may notice that the young person's academic performance has deteriorated or that they are below their usual ability in athletic and sporting activities.
Teen drug use is dangerous because it affects their physical and mental health, makes it more likely that they will engage in risky behavior, and causes problems in other areas of life. Some of the biggest risks of teen drug use include the following.
The earlier that teens start drinking, the more likely they are to develop substance use problems later in life. Drug use in the teenage years can also affect growth and development, including brain development.
If you are concerned about teenage drug use in your family, you will want to educate yourself about the signs of overdose. If you see someone experiencing these symptoms, you should seek medical assistance immediately by calling 911. If the person is unconscious, you can put them in the recovery position to prevent them from choking if they vomit.
Drug impurity puts teenagers and people of all ages at significant risk of overdose. When teenagers buy drugs from dealers, they do not know what the substance has been mixed with. Fentanyl is a particular danger because it is often mixed with other drugs such as MDMA, meth, and cocaine. It is a strong opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Just 2 mg of fentanyl can be a lethal dose.
If you are the parent of a young person and are worried about teen drug use, there are actions that you can take. It is important that your teenager trusts that you have their best interests at heart and that they can speak with you honestly about their drug use. It may be tempting to use scare tactics to make sure they don't abuse drugs. However, this could backfire, causing your child to not want to admit to you if they have a drug use problem.
Teens will likely see that peers do not always experience negative consequences when taking drugs. Therefore, it is important to present young people with real facts about drugs.
Active listening is vital for developing trust. This includes listening to what your teenager says without judgment or butting in. Let them speak freely, normalizing the expression of emotions. Teenagers will often use substances to help them deal with complicated emotions, so it may help if they know they can talk with you about these things. Part of this can include speaking with them about how they feel about drugs.
Some additional topics you may wish to discuss include the following.
Setting a good example can also help. It is best not to abuse substances in front of your teenager. Do not normalize drug abuse for them by using if your child is nearby. If you drink alcohol, model drinking in moderation. Also, be aware of what prescription drugs are in the house and whether they are using them if they are not theirs.
It could be helpful to get support from a mental health professional. Mental health problems are a risk factor for addiction. By seeking help from a mental health professional such as a therapist, your teen can learn healthy ways to deal with their mental health problems.
If you love someone who has an addiction to substances, you can help them by staying sober, at least in front of them. Recovery can be a lifelong process, so this might mean remaining sober even years after your loved one quits. You can also help by being understanding and supportive of their addiction and recovery.
At Clearfork Academy, we focus on supporting teenagers with substance abuse problems as well as those with mental health problems. We are a residential center, providing a family-style environment that includes peer learning and allows families to join at the weekend.
We offer various treatment options, including intensive outpatient treatment for young people in the early stages of a substance abuse problem. Other services at Clearfork Academy include:
Please visit our website or call us at (866) 650-5212 to find out more. We would love to welcome you to our center.
Originally from the Saginaw, Eagle Mountain area, Austin Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministry from Lee University in Cleveland, TN and a Master of Arts in Counseling from The Church of God Theological Seminary. He then went on to become a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor in the State of Texas.
Austin’s professional history includes both local church ministry and clinical counseling. At a young age, he began serving youth at the local church in various capacities which led to clinical training and education. Austin gained a vast knowledge of mental health disorders while working in state and public mental health hospitals. This is where he was exposed to almost every type of diagnosis and carries this experience into the daily treatment.
Austin’s longtime passion is Clearfork Academy, a christ-centered residential facility focused on mental health and substance abuse. He finds joy and fulfillment working with “difficult” clients that challenge his heart and clinical skill set. It is his hope and desire that each resident that passes through Clearfork Academy will be one step closer to their created design.
Austin’s greatest pleasures in life are being a husband to his wife, and a father to his growing children. He serves at his local church by playing guitar, speaking and helping with tech arts. Austin also enjoys being physically active, reading, woodworking, and music.