Substance Abuse in Teens
Table of contents
Common Drugs That Teens Use
Teen substance abuse transcends race, culture, environment, and socio-economic situations. Plus, it is something that impacts every single one of us in one way or another. Teen drug use is highly prevalent and potentially fatal, as it destroys the lives of teens with substance abuse disorders.
The Impact of Drug Use on the Teenage Brain
Types of Commonly Abused Drugs
However, there is hope. Drug rehab facilities do incredible work to combat teen drug use, and many successful programs can effectively help teens with teen substance abuse. In this article, we will address everything you need to know about teen drug use, misuse, and abuse and the best ways to fight against it.
Legal drugs include either prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or alcohol. Although alcohol is a legal substance, the consumption of alcohol by teenagers is illegal in most states, with a few exceptions for eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds in some states under certain circumstances.2
A Further Look at Drug Abuse
Narcotics are designed to dull the senses and reduce pain. They are either made from opium, created in a laboratory, or both.2
- Amphetamines, known as speed, meth, and crystal
- Cocaine, either crack rock or powder
- Ecstasy, known as MDMA or methylenedioxymethamphetamine
- Methylphenidate, known as Ritalin
Stimulants have always been a prevalent choice among teenagers and young people because they are often associated with nightlife, clubbing, and festivals. Unfortunately, prescription medication with a high schedule like Methylphenidate, or Ritalin, is often misused when people take too much, snort the tablets, or take the pills despite not having ADD or ADHD. Additionally, stimulants as a whole are often abused alongside alcohol, which is a combination that produces a powerful effect in the brain and becomes highly addictive very quickly.
Depressants are psychoactive drugs that slow down the activity of the central nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord. Slowing down the CNS reduces a person’s alertness and internal functions, like breathing and heart rate. Depressants can take the form of pharmaceutical drugs as well as illicit substances.3
- Psilocybin or magic mushrooms
- Peyote or mescaline
- Ketamine or Special K
- PCP or phencyclidine
Drug Use Statistics in Teens
All of the statistical information below is from a 2018 SAMHSA survey.4 Age groups were split into adolescents between the ages of twelve and seventeen, while the young adults were people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. We will refer to the adolescent stats to determine teenage usage and other stats for our purposes.
Teen Substance Abuse Treatment Needed
Teen Substance Abuse Treatment Received
Comparing the Two Statistics
They do, of course, need to do their research and make applications, and they should be encouraged to be proactive and determined in seeking help for their children, family members, and loved ones. More studies need to be done to determine the reason for the relatively big difference between teens who need treatment and teens who receive treatment.
A Report on Teen Drug Abuse
Additional Teen Substance Use Statistics
There were 112,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2018 who were past-year users of cocaine, including about 4,000 users of crack. These numbers correspond to 0.4 percent of adolescents who used cocaine in the past year and less than 0.1 percent who used crack cocaine.
Prescription Drugs Containing Stimulants
Causes of Teens Using Drugs
Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States, and it is profoundly affecting the lives of teenagers. When over-the-counter or prescription medication is used other than in the prescribed manner, or when someone uses prescription drugs without prescription, this is prescription drug abuse. These drugs are often resold for profit, traded, or illegally obtained via fake scripts. There is a misleading assumption that these drugs are safer to abuse than illicit narcotics, but all inpatient drug rehab facilities are occupied with many prescription drug addicts.7
What Are the Signs of Drug Abuse in Teens?
- Sudden change in friends
- Withdrawal from the family unit and family activities
- Frequently breaking curfew
- Uncharacteristic behavior like violence, short temper, and screaming
- Extreme mood swings
- Either hyperactive or very lazy
- Deterioration in grades and interest in school work
- Withdrawal from sports and other physical activity
- Constantly asking for money or stealing items at home and school
- Slurred speech
- Speaking extremely fast
- Poor hygiene
- Lack of concern in appearance
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Dilated or constricted pupils
- Droopy eyelids
- Extremely pale or ashy complexion
- Sores and open wounds that don’t heal
Risks of Drugs Use
Effects of Drugs on Developing Brain
It might be pretty surprising for teenagers to hear, but their brains are still developing, and they certainly don’t know everything! For example, in teenagers, the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, and it’s the area you use in critical thinking, such as when you weigh pros and cons before making a decision. Unfortunately, this makes it more likely for teens to abuse drugs. Drug abuse will directly affect any undeveloped part of the brain and create neural pathways that can seriously negatively affect the teen’s future.9
Effects of Drug Use on Body
Effects on Social Life
Drug abuse might seem cool at the time, and teens might even gain entry into a particular social group, but ultimately, the drugs will have a negative effect. Teens who abuse drugs struggle to socialize in productive and normal ways, and the social groups based on drug-taking soon fall apart due to selfishness and hedonism.
Effects on Academics
How To Prevent Teens from Using Drugs
The role of the family is the most important in preventing and treating drug addiction in teens. Families should be involved in the teens’ lives and keep communication channels open to deal with any issues. Families must also play a role in intervention where necessary and should fight as hard as possible to pull their teen family members away from the clutches of drug abuse.10
The family GP or physician is often a good place to start for families concerned with potential or admitted drug abuse. A GP can medically assess and stabilize the teen if necessary and reach out to addiction specialists and rehab facilities to take treatment further.
Talking to a Teen About Drug Use
Drug Addiction Treatment for Teens
Behavioral Family Therapy
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Drug rehabilitation is often the only solution for teens whose addictions have gotten out of hand. Outpatient rehab is when the teen lives at home but regularly attends counseling sessions to cure their drug addiction. Inpatient rehab is where the teen is admitted to a facility where they will live for specific periods.