Teen drug abuse is a subject that has been receiving heavy media coverage recently.
With the explosion of drugs such as ecstasy and meth on the scene, many teens find the temptation of experimentation with these drugs hard to resist.
Teenagers may be involved with prescription drugs or illegal drugs in various ways. Experimentation with drugs during adolescence is common. Unfortunately, teenagers often don’t see the link between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow. They also have a tendency to feel indestructible and immune to the problems that others experience.
Using alcohol and tobacco as a teen increases the risk of using other drugs later. Some teens will experiment and stop, or continue to use occasionally without significant problems.
Others will begin to abuse the drugs they once used only recreationally, moving on to more harmful drugs and causing significant harm to themselves and possibly others.
Adolescence is a time for trying new things. A teen may abuse drugs for many reasons including; curiosity, because it feels good, to reduce stress, to feel grown up, and to fit in. It is difficult to know which teens will experiment and stop and which will develop serious problems.
Drugs That Teens Are Abusing – Teen Drug Abuse
- Prescription Drugs and Medications (such as Ritalin and OxyContin)
- Inhalants: Known by such street names as huffing, sniffing, and wanging. The dangerous habit of getting high by inhaling the fumes of common household products has claimed the lives of more than a thousand children each year.Many other young people, including some first-time users, are left with serious respiratory problems and permanent brain damage.
- Over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep, and diet medications (such as Coricidin)
- Marijuana: About one half of the people in the United States have used marijuana, many are currently using it, and some will requiretreatment for marijuana abuse and dependence.
- Stimulants: The possible long-term effects include tolerance and dependence, violence and aggression, and malnutrition due to suppression of appetite. Crack, a powerfully addictive stimulant, is the term used for a smokeable form of cocaine.
- Club Drugs: This term refers to drugs being used by teens and young adults at all-night dance parties such as “raves” or “trances,” dance clubs, and bars. MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB, Rohypnol (Rophies), ketamine, methamphetamine, and LSD are some of the club or party drugs gaining popularity.
Because some club drugs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless, they can be added unobtrusively to beverages by individuals who want to intoxicate or sedate others.
Teen Drug Abuse
In recent years, there has been an increase in reports of club drugs used to commit sexual assaults.
- Depressants: These are drugs used medicinally to relieve anxiety, irritability, and tension. There is a high potential for teen drug abuse and, combined with alcohol, effects are heightened and risks are multiplied.
- Heroin: Several sources indicate an increase in new, young users across the country who are being lured by inexpensive, high-purity heroin that can be sniffed or smoked instead of injected.
Signs & Symptoms of Teen Drug Abuse:
- changes friends
- smell of alcohol or marijuana on breath or body
- unexplainable mood swings and behavior
- negative, argumentative, paranoid or confused, destructive, anxious
- over-reacts to criticism acts rebellious
- sharing few if any of their personal problems
- doesn’t seem as happy as they used to be
- overly tired or hyperactive
- drastic weight loss or gain
- unhappy and depressed
- cheats, steals
- always needs money, or has excessive amounts of money
- sloppiness in appearance
Why is adolescence a critical time for preventing drug addiction? – Teen Drug Abuse
Risk of drug abuse increases greatly during times of transition, such as changing schools, moving, or divorce. If we can prevent drug abuse, we can prevent drug addiction.
In early adolescence, when children advance from elementary through middle school, they face new and challenging social and academic situations.
Often during this period, children are exposed to abusable substances such as cigarettes and alcohol for the first time.
When they enter high school, teens may encounter greater availability of drugs, drug abuse by older teens, and social activities where drugs are used.
Top 10 Ideas To Help Prevent Teen Drug Abuse
- Be there for your teen when they need to get out of a bad situation. Be the scapegoat…be the parent who will pick up your teen without repercussions if he finds the party has drugs available or her date has been drinking.
- Get to know your son or daughters friends and their parents on a first name basis. This will help you know what your teen is doing and you could make some new friends along the way.
- Keep connected in the after school hours. If you can’t be home with your teen, call and leave notes. Have another adult supervise your teen or sign them up for an after school program.
- Talk to your teen often about drugs and teen drug abuse.
Use ice breakers from television shows or the radio in the car. Remember these are conversations, not lectures.
- Get your teen involved in extra-curricular activities.
Schools offer sports or clubs and community organizations offer classes and youth groups. These will help him or her mold their identity in a positive way and give them less time doing nothing and becoming bored. Studies have shown teens that have less time to just hang out are less likely to do drugs.
- Ask questions when your teen makes plans to go out.
Who will he be with, where is he going, what will he be doing, etc. Then check up on him. Call other parents and do this together.
- Be a role model. If you drink, drink responsibly and do not use drugs.
- Unite your family against drugs with strong family beliefs.
Establish that your family does not use drugs. If your teen does make a mistake, it’s OK, it’s not the end of the world. Make it known that your family believes in healthier ways to enjoy life and fix problems, other than by using drugs.
- Connect with your teen by doing things together as a family.
Make this a routine outing and have your teen help plan it. If possible, eat family meals together. Studies have shown that kids who enjoy dinner together with their parents on a regular basis are less likely to be involved in teen drug abuse.
- Drop any baggage that you personally may be carrying. Don’t allow the mistakes you made as a teenager or young adult to influence your teen in a negative way. Tap into the mature adult you have become and let the past go.
Lead By Example – Teen Drug Abuse
The key points that you want to remember are to keep the dialogue open, continuous, and honest. Ensure that your teens know that you are accessible and willing to talk about anything…especially teen drug abuse.
The topics that are often the most uncomfortable to discuss are often the ones that should be discussed. – Teen Drug Abuse
The initial awkwardness will soon subside and you can feel secure that you have prepared your teen for making good decisions in the future.
If your teenager or someone you know is facing a drug problem, learn how to help a drug addict in a way that fosters permanent recovery.