Help for Teen Drug Abuse
As a teen, there is constant pressure to use drugs and alcohol, and it is likely that teens will experiment with those substances. But experimentation is harmless, right? You’re just going to try drugs or alcohol, just to see what it’s like.
Whether you are a parent, grandparent or any other person who cares about a child’s future, it is important that you be knowledge about how to prevent teen drug abuse. It’s hard for us to imagine that a child we love could end up using drugs. But chances are, most children will be faced with, “Should I, or shouldn’t I?” As parents we must teach our children to know that the answer is, “I shouldn’t, and I won’t.”
If you suspect your teen has been using drugs or drinking alcohol, it’s important to act quickly: the longer your teen abuses substances, the more likely they are to become addicted. If you do find the problem is beyond your expertise, there are teen drug treatment programs that specialize in the special needs of this population.
A time of many transitions
One of the reasons that adolescence can be such a crucial time is that the risk of abusing drugs increases during transitional times – and the early teen years are among life’s most change-filled moments. For example, early adolescence is marked by the move from elementary school to middle school or junior high, while later adolescence includes significant biological changes, the challenges of high school, increased social interaction, and involvement with new friends and peer groups.
The adolescent years are often the time when most people are first presented with the opportunity to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Because teens’ brains and sense of self often evolve at slower rates than their bodies do, individuals who “look like” adults on the outside are still equipped with more childlike means of dealing with stresses and pressures. These teens may feel overwhelmed by the challenges they are facing, and may turn to substance abuse to ease their anxiety and – depending upon their peer group – enhance their standing among friends and fellow students.
Compounding this problem is the fact that drugs and alcohol can disrupt brain functions even further, and can delay the normal developmental process. It should come as little surprise, then, that teens who use alcohol and other drugs are much more likely than their sober peers to exhibit behavior issues, have physical and health problems, become involved in the juvenile justice system, and perform worse in school
Here are some facts about kids and drug use:
Forty percent of U.S. teens say they expect to use a drug in the future. One out of every five kids in eighth grade has already tried marijuana. Use of substances such as marijuana and inhalants can result in social consequences (e.g., failing in school) and physical consequences such as reduced stamina and fitness or damage to the lungs and brain. Teens who smoke cigarettes are more likely to drink alcohol. Teens who smoke and drink are more likely to use marijuana. And those who use all three are more likely to use other illicit drugs. Long-term studies show that use of other illicit drugs among youth almost never occurs unless they have first used marijuana.
Choose Your Path Wisely
Adolescence is a strange time – you’re not yet an adult, but you’re not a child. Little by little, you’re earning privileges like a driver’s license and a later curfew, but suddenly there are more responsibilities and expectations. This is your first glimpse at real adult life.
It may not feel like it, but this is a critical time. You are building a foundation for the rest of your life. During adolescence, you’re asked to choose a path: Get good grades, go to college, and live the life you and your parents imagined for you, or get sidetracked by the wrong crowd of friends, drugs and alcohol, and the legal troubles and self-hatred that these choices bring.
These are your peak learning years – your time to prove yourself to parents, friends, colleges, jobs, and most importantly yourself. This is also a time to establish your own separate identity and discover you who are.
What is your goal in life? Most people when asked this question will say being happy. What they don’t realize is that the things that make you happy in the moment, like drugs and alcohol, will never lead to true happiness.
Even if you feel that you have little power or control over your life, there are some decisions that are entirely yours. Only you can decide whether you will smoke, drink, or do drugs. You know the risks – this is your chance to set a course for yourself that will bring you decades of peace and contentment.
Don’t let drugs cloud the picture of the adult you will become. Learning to enjoy your life as it is, both good and bad, is a skill you will call upon for the rest of your life. Get started now – experience the party this weekend for what it really is, not what you see when you’re drunk or high. Hang out with friends without popping pills. Preserve your high school or junior high moments without the cloudy haze of drugs or alcohol.
What’s the Problem?
You might tell yourself that you will only smoke pot once, or try cocaine once, but then you do it at the next party and then again with some friends, and before you know it, you are developing a drug problem.
You didn’t start using drugs planning to become addicted, but now your drug use is turning into abuse and addiction, which puts you at risk for the negative effects that are a result of the abuse of pot, alcohol and other drugs.
Teen drug use of any kind puts teens at risk for a variety of mental and physical problems, including memory loss, brain damage, depression, heart attack, seizures, respiratory failure, and death. Most teens might not see their drug abuse as serious, but substance abuse and addiction can impact every part of a teen’s life, including their behavior, their friends, and their interests.
Why Do Teens Use?
Most teens use drugs with friends as a way to relax, to have fun, or to relieve the stress caused by school and family. For teens, using drugs is a way to fit in with friends, unwind at parties, or to simply escape boredom. Teens are often susceptible to peer pressure, and are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol when their peers are using drugs and alcohol as well.
As a teen, the use of alcohol and other drugs is typically viewed as recreational and causal. However, the choice to use drugs can lead teens down a path that ends in loss of friends, alienation from family, mental disorders, health problems, and even death.
What to Do About It?
If you think you or a loved one has a substance abuse problem talk to an advisor who can help you decide on the right treatment solution for your individual needs. Once you make the decision to get help for yourself or someone near you, you will be directed to a program that will provide you with the tools necessary to work towards recovery and a better life.
Addiction experts have developed a wide variety of programs that help increase the odds that families, schools, and communities can stay drug-free. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), programs that are identified as “science-validated” are particularly likely to be effective, as they have been subjected to rigorous evaluations, and their positive results have been independently verified. NIDA categorizes science-validated approaches according to the following criteria:
• Universal programs address risk and protective factors common to all children in a given setting, such as a school or community.
• Selective programs target groups of children and teens who have factors that further increase their risk of drug abuse.
• Indicated programs are designed for youth who have already begun abusing drugs.
The organization has compiled a considerable amount of information about effective drug-prevention programs in a publication entitled Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders, which may be downloaded at no cost from the NIDA website.
The decision to get help for yourself or a loved one can be one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make. By making this decision to get help, you are providing you or a loved one with the opportunity to get back on the right path.
CRC Health Group is the nation’s leading provider of chemical dependency, eating disorder, pain management services and educational programs for troubled youths. For more than 30 years, our treatment philosophy and exceptional care have reclaimed and enriched the lives of those we have served. CRC’s foremost priority is providing the highest quality of care that embraces the values of integrity, respect, accountability, responsibility, and excellence. Recognizing that every individual is unique and challenged by different needs, we offer a wide variety of services emphasizing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformation of the individual. With distinction and compassion, the CRC Health Group brings healing, well-being, recovery and reconnection to those in need.
Residential Division offers all levels of care: detoxification, residential, day, outpatient, extended care, and online substance abuse treatment for adults, adolescents and their families. CRC offers many specialties and is widely known for its comprehensive eating disorder and pain management treatment programs and services for adults.
Comprehensive Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Division (COSAT) provides an all inclusive program with a full range of treatment options for those addicted to any addictive substance. Services: ambulatory detoxification, medication
Aspen Education is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive network of therapeutic schools and programs for underachieving young people. Through a unique combination of education, therapy and experiential learning, Aspen helps adolescents and young adults overcome emotional, behavioral or learning challenges and develop the self-esteem they need to succeed in life. Aspen Education’s 30+ specialized programs range from short-term interventions to long-term residential treatment and include boarding schools, wilderness therapy and weight management programs.
“Our passion is to provide treatment to those in need,
no matter where they are in the life cycle of their disease.”
— Dr. Barry Karlin, Founder and CEO