In the addiction community, the word “drug” typically refers to an illicit substance such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. While adults might never try these substances, due to concerns about law enforcement action or worries that they would lose their homes or families as a result of the drug use, teens may experiment with these drugs out of a sense of adventure. Taking a drug that is both powerful and illegal might be an opportunity that is simply too good to pass up. It seems to tap directly into a teen’s sense of invincibility and quest for new experiences.
Teens who experiment with drugs can experience a plethora of negative consequences, including addiction. If, after reading this article, you suspect that your teen has developed an addiction to drugs, please contact us. At Teen Rehab, we can connect you with drug addiction treatment facilities that can help your teen recover and build a new life that doesn’t include the use of drugs.
Drugs and Teens
Researchers keep a close eye on the teen addiction issue, attempting to determine what teens are taking, and what they are developing addictions to. One important study, the Monitoring the Future Survey, provides a yearly look at the habits of teens in junior high and high school. In 2011, researchers discovered that the most popular illicit drug among teens was marijuana, with 36.4 percent of high school seniors reporting use within the previous year. Some seniors also reported use of synthetic marijuana, also known as “Spice.” Almost one in nine high school seniors reported using this product in the previous year.
It’s hard to know exactly why teens find marijuana and synthetic marijuana appealing. It could be, in part, because marijuana products tend to be widely available. Some teens may buy the drug from dealers, or they may even attempt to grow their own plants. In addition, some states do not ban synthetic marijuana products, meaning that teens could simply walk into a convenience store and buy they drugs they would like to use. It might also be that teens view drugs like marijuana to be relatively “safe.” Research seems to bear out this idea.
Using heroin once or twice: 57.4 percent felt was very risky
Using LSD once or twice: 50.9 percent felt was very risky
Using cocaine once or twice: 49.7 felt was very risky
Using marijuana once per month: 34.2 felt was very risky
It’s important to stress that many teens felt drugs like heroin, LSD and cocaine were dangerous even to experiment with. But few felt that marijuana was dangerous to use on a monthly basis. The teens seem to have a completely different view of this drug. The fact remains, too, that some teens do experiment with heroin, LSD and cocaine, even though they know the drugs are dangerous. These teens may be in the minority, but they do exist. These teens may have started with drugs like marijuana, and then moved on to other drugs, or they may be taking marijuana with other drugs like heroin, all at the same time, trying to pull together a custom cocktail of sensations.
Risks of Drug Use and Addiction
The adolescent brain is remarkably pliable, and it may be inherently vulnerable to addiction. If the teen uses drugs just once, at a moment when the brain is particularly vulnerable due to developmental changes, the burst of euphoria the teen may feel might be unlike anything that teen has ever felt before, or is likely to feel again. The chemical changes in the brain may drive the addiction, but the memory of the pleasurable sensation may also cause the teen to seek out drugs again. The greater the initial response to the drugs, the greater the strength of the addiction. Since the teen brain is wired to produce a great response, teens are wired to develop addictions.
Teens who start using drugs have a higher-than-average risk of developing an addiction, and carrying that addiction with them into adulthood. According to a study published by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), one in four Americans who began using an addictive drug before age 18 developed an addiction. Only one in 25 Americans who began use when they were 21 or older developed an addiction. The adolescent brain is just more susceptible to addiction. In addition, CASA reports that one in five high school students meets the current medical criteria for addiction. In other words, adolescents are more susceptible, and many adolescents are already addicted.
Teens who drive under the influence may:
Drive too quickly
React slowly to changing circumstances
Endanger their lives, and the lives of their passengers
Face law enforcement action if they’re stopped or they’re in an accident
Teens with addictions may engage in destructive behaviors that put their lives at risk. For example, SAMHSA reports that 49.8 percent of people aged 12 to 17 who used illicit drugs engaged in violent behavior, compared to 26.6 percent of teens of the same age who did not use illicit drugs. The drugs seem to bring out the propensity for violence, and this could lead to tragic consequences. In addition, many teens who are addicted to drugs drive while they are under the influence. The organization Parents. The Anti-Drug reports that 14 percent of high school seniors report driving while under the influence of marijuana.
Time to Act
Clearly, teens who abuse drugs face the very real risk of addiction, and teens who are addicted to drugs face a wide variety of negative consequences as a result of their abuse. While teens may not grow out of addiction issues on their own, they can successfully learn how to manage their addictions in treatment programs. Through a combination of medication, therapy and support group assistance, teens can control their drug addictions and go on to live healthy and successful lives. Please contact us today to find out more about your teen’s rehab.
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