A teenager’s brain is still developing. Thus, they risk suffering from long-term behavioral and cognitive effects when they abuse drugs at this age. Teenagers have higher chances of developing drug addiction in adulthood when they start abusing at that age.
However, future addiction cases can be recognized and stopped if we talk with the teens and set a good example. Moreover, when we need to be able to distinguish between an addiction case and an abuse case to provide appropriate treatment. The difference is important because most teens usually experiment but are not addicted.
As a teenager grows, it is normal when they face a strong urge to experiment with something new and test their boundaries. There are multiple reasons why teenagers do drugs. They include:
However, teens give these reasons because they are usually exposed to certain risk factors. The more risk factors, the higher the chances the teenager will experiment with drugs and eventually get addicted.
If you can help them minimize these risk factors, they will be able to help them avoid or stop experimenting with drugs. The risk factors are:
You will need to work against these risk factors to eliminate them. For example, if you practice permissive parenting as a guardian, you should try to be around more and try to be the teenager’s role model.
Teenagers can get secretive. You will need to use communication to break down barriers between you two. If you talk to them about drug abuse, it will influence their decision to stop using drugs or not use them.
Parents must be aware of the signs of drug abuse to get them the appropriate help early.
Drug abuse makes people fail to take care of their appearance. You will notice:
Drug abuse gives rise to the following health issues:
Personality, mood, or psychotropic changes are symptoms of drug abuse. It would help if you looked out for:
You will note changes in behavior first before other signs.
These drugs are similar to the ones used by adults. Teenagers have a high chance of excess consumption or use of drugs as they have a shallow perception of the risks and dangers.
Teens abuse alcohol more than any drug. Those who have reached the drinking age have a level of social acceptance, and teens will want this too. A teenager’s impulse control is yet to develop fully, and as a result, they will see alcohol as harmless and mostly result in binge drinking. Binge drinking increases the chances of addiction to anyone. A teenager’s brain can hardly resist addiction.
Most people who use marijuana regularly started using it when they were teenagers. Teenagers do not think that the occasional use of marijuana poses any threat. According to CDC, about 22% of teenagers reveal that they used the drug at least once in the past 30 days in 2019.
Teens will seek pleasurable effects from prescription drugs like OxyContin and benzodiazepines like Xanax. Most teens know of the intoxicating effects of prescription drugs.
The potential for addiction to these drugs is high and thus increases the chances of an overdose. Almost two-thirds of teenagers who abuse prescription drugs get them from the medicine cabinet at home.
Over-the-counter medications carry the same risks. A good example is Dextromethorphan (DMX), which is the flu and cold medicine that is highly addictive.
You will be surprised to learn that cocaine, heroin, and the likes are not the fastest-growing drug problem. Prescription drugs are. People think they are safer than other drugs, which is a misconception. Each medication presents long-term and short-term effects.
Their side effects are similar to those of cocaine. These can produce high body temperatures at a risky level, an irregular heartbeat, and paranoia.
Opioids and heroin target the same brain parts. They tend to cause nausea, drowsiness, constipation, and slowed breathing. These symptom severities depend on the amount consumed.
These tend to cause fatigue, shallow breathing, slurred speech, lack of coordination, and disorientation. In addition, seizures may appear if you withdraw from chronic use.
You should not overreact. If you lash out or overreact, the teenager will most likely retreat and fail to share about the experience. When the teen decides to open up, you will be able to know if it is a problem at hand or if it was a one-time thing.
It would help if you expressed how you care about them and their future. If the teen feels loved and supported, they will agree to get help, and if they are experimenting, they will most likely stop.
Naturally, teens could lie about abusing drugs. It would help if you tried reassuring your child that you have a genuine concern and want to help. There are cases where they will persist in lying. If you suspect they are still lying, you can do a home drug test to find out or call a professional to help you out.
Some professionals you can rely on to diagnose the drug problem include therapists, addiction specialists, and pediatricians.
Once you have uncovered an addiction problem, it is time to seek addiction treatment for your son or daughter. A detox facility will provide counseling on top of medical treatment. In addition, the detox center will focus on helping the teen build their confidence and self-esteem.
Advantages of getting professional help for teen addiction treatment include:
Drugs are a menace to teens today. This is especially true of 12th graders who are well off into adulthood. You should be extremely vigilant as a parent, guardian, or caretaker. Teens have many triggers that may lead them to substance abuse, varying from teenager to teenager. The first step in trying to curb this problem is to create a safe environment for your child by being a role model and physically and emotionally present. By doing this, you open communication avenues for your teens, so they can talk it out with you when they encounter problems.
Sometimes, however, this is not enough, so you should look for any significant changes in your child. These changes can manifest either physically or psychologically. You should not dismiss these changes as teenagers being teenagers; instead, you should probe further.
Once you investigate and suspect your child of drug abuse, you should start the conversation on drugs. When having this conversation, you should approach your child in a way that assures them of your love and support. Only then can your child start to open up to you about their drug use. In some cases, if the child is not too deep, they may stop using the drugs altogether. However, some teenagers are not ready to trust their parents fully because they are afraid. Therefore, if you have tried reaching out to your child and they have only shut you out, the next step is to seek out professional help from a licensed detox facility.
After the professional identifies your child as a drug addict, you should then seek professional help. Depending on your child’s needs there are different detox programs available at Ascendant New York Drug and Alcohol Detox .
If your child is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, and you are seeking addiction services in Connecticut or New York, reach out to Ascendant today.
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Last medically reviewed August 31, 2022