Life becomes more difficult when a teen decides to begin using drugs. Managing daily schedules becomes increasingly stressful for parents or adults who care for teens as they slowly choose to drop out of all that is meaningful in life. Teens who use drugs put themselves at great risk of becoming addicted since they may find it difficult to control impulses.
Sadly, teens who abuse drugs also build up a tolerance to the substance and will suffer withdrawal symptoms just as an adult. Managing life because of drug use could become increasingly difficult as the teen builds up even more tolerance and uses more and more.
What Causes Teen Drug Abuse
Substance abuse in a family or among teens is caused by many factors including social, genetic, individual and family factors that can lend to the weakness that leads to drug abuse.
- Genes do play a role in substance abuse and how it develops, however, this disease is also caused by other factors that can strongly influence the occurrence of the development of abuse in a teen’s life
- Peer pressure by other teens who abuse drugs is one of the biggest factors that can lead a teen who is easily swayed into the cycle of abuse.
- Depression and the feeling of failure can also lure a teen into thinking that drugs can make them feel better and be more accepted.
- Treatment for drug abuse is usually based on several things, ranging from the stage of the addiction to treatment that includes education and support that the teen may not feel they are worthy of.
The Drugs Teens Abuse
The startling fact is that every drug an adult abuses, a teen is likely to also abuse. Many times, the abuse begins with alcohol and will also include:
- Tobacco products
- Cold medications
- Club drugs
Statistically, teens in the United States rank at about 3,000 begin smoking everyday. One-third of those will become addicted to nicotine. There is some evidence that shows teen smoking is on the decline since 2002 because it is losing it’s popularity due to education of how dangerous smoking can be to one’s health.
Underage drinking in the U.S. indicates that about 16 percent of all eighth graders and 29 percent of all 10th graders engage in drinking.
Marijuana use among teens has dropped in the last decade, but sits at about 25 percent who smoke marijuana or use other illicit drugs each month. In 2010, about 30 percent of all 10th graders smoked marijuana in the last year, and about three percent of all 12th graders used cocaine in the past year.
The Dangerous Effects of Teen Drug Use
There are many dangerous effects of teen drug use including:
- Drug use decreases the attention span;
- A teen who uses drugs is more likely to develop an addiction that requires professional treatment and the chance of relapse is always present;
- Drug use among juveniles is likely to lead to unprotected sex, which in turn, could lead to pregnancy, rape or disease;
- Substance abuse many times is used to mask deep emotional problems. Some can become so serious that the untreated symptoms can lead to suicide.
- Steroid use among boys can lead to impotence, baldness, strokes, heart attacks, cancer, or liver disease.
- Depending on how the individual body reacts to the drugs, brain damage or impairment could occur, especially with the use of inhalants. This could also lead to heart attacks, strokes, and can result in death.
Keeping the open lines of clear communication between parent and child is one way to fight drug abuse. Communicate about the dangers, the negative effects of drugs and also the teen’s expectations and goals in life. Test their knowledge about specific drugs and make sure they know the facts and dangers well ahead of that moment when they are faced with the choice of trying them for the first time.
Parents who supervise their teen’s whereabouts and the social crowd they are in can help keep the parent alert and lets the teen know that the parent cares. Make sure you limit the amount of alcohol, over-the-counter medications, prescription medications and inhalants in the home. Monitor them and make sure they are accounted for if you suspect your teen is falling into the abuse trap. This one step alone can help deter or decrease a teen from substance abuse.
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Drug Abuse
Recognizing that a teen has a problem is sometimes half the battle, and it is the first step in the right direction. Ways to recognize a person who is “high” on drugs or intoxicated depends on the substance that the reaction it has on the individual. Some signs include:
- Tobacco: Irritability, discolored fingertips or teeth and the smell of tobacco on their clothing;
- Marijuana: Red eyes, excessive hunger, sleepiness, euphoric mood, paranoia and lack of motivation;
- Cold medications: Rapid or slow heartbeat, sleepiness;
- Inhalants: Confusion, irritability, runny nose and the smell of gasoline or other solvents;
- Depressants: Lowered inhibitions, slow heart rate or blood pressure, sleepiness, dizziness, coma or death;
- Stimulants: High blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, excessive happiness, paranoia, seizures, not sleeping;
- Narcotics: Excessive happiness, slow or stopped heartbeat, not experiencing pain, sleepiness, coma or death;
- Hallucinogens: Trouble sleeping, paranoia, blurred or bad perceptions;
- Anesthetics: High blood pressure, memory loss, nausea, aggressiveness, irritability, high heart rate;
- Club drugs: Excessively happy moods, feverish without sweating, signs of multiple hard candies or lollipops;
- Steroids: Rapid increase in muscle definition, loss of hair, increased irritability, acne, excessive needles.
Symptoms of Drug Abuse
Teen drug abuse can be detected on several levels by those who know the child best. Drug and alcohol abuse in teens may be marked by making excuses for not doing what is usually normally done. Many times, teens become verbally abusive and even physically abusive toward others, especially those who attempt to change their minds about drug use or those who keep the drugs from them. They become very possessive of their belongings since they usually have drug paraphernalia among them. Paraphernalia could include rolling papers, inhalants, needles, mirrors, pill bottles, pipes, and syringes.
Also, teens will exhibit many behavioral symptoms as well. Physical and emotional symptoms will be evident in behavior. If the teen is addicted, physical signs of withdrawal will be evident if they can no longer get the drug that is being abused.
Get the Help Your Family Needs
If you suspect your teen of drug or alcohol abuse, time is imperative to recover. Get help. Have the teen evaluated by a professional. The complexity of the abuse can be determined and family members and loved ones should stay close by for support.
Drug abuse can be life-changing for an entire family, but there is hope for recovery and help for teens who want to break the cycle of abuse and a better quality of life.