Teen Drug Abuse: Infographic
November 13, 2019
The teenage years and drug use are synonymous with one another. Whether a teenager wants to experiment with a drug or use it to help cope with something that is bothering them, drug use among this group of young individuals happens all the time. And while there are millions of teenagers who do not get involved with drugs during this time of their lives, there are many who do. The question most parents and loved ones of these teenagers often ask is “why are they using drugs”?
Why Do Teenagers Abuse Drugs?
There are several age-old causes of drug use in teenagers, but as American culture morphs and the world continues to transform into a much different place, teenagers are looking to drugs for a slew of reasons that were not so common in past decades.
For example, up to 43% of boys and girls experience at least one trauma in their lifetime. Not to say that traumatic events did not occur in the past, but the types of trauma that teenagers are facing today are much different. Teenagers can turn to drug use to cope with feelings stemming from being involved in a school shooting or simply being fearful of experiencing one firsthand. More teens than ever before are living with the effects of an opioid-addicted parent, and while they may be mad at their parent for their behaviors, they very well may pick up the very same drug to numb themselves from the pain they are feeling. Additionally, teenagers are no longer able to go home and get a break from bullying — it follows them everywhere they go via social media and text. Rising rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers is triggering a stronger interest and temptation to abuse drugs to help deal with the symptoms associated with those major illnesses. And still, teenagers turn to drugs to improve their athletic abilities or cognitive performance. They also experience the same level of curiosity as other teens have in regards to drug use and how different substances can make them feel.
Types of Drugs Teens Abuse
Possibly the only good news about teen drug use is that it is decreasing. But that does not mean that there are not teenagers out there who are still struggling. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, the most commonly abused drugs among the teenage population include:
- Cough and cold medicine
Many parents wonder how their teenagers are even able to access drugs as powerful and as illicit as some of these, however acquiring these drugs is not as difficult as they might think.
The vast majority of teenagers who abuse prescription drugs find them in their parents’, grandparents’, and other relative’s medicine cabinets. Today, the average American is prescribed at least four medications (many of which include addictive painkillers like OxyContin or sedatives like Ativan), leaving plenty of opportunity for teenagers to get their hands on them.
Teenagers are also more likely to abuse cough medicine and/or inhalants, as they are much easier to access via drug stores and grocery stores and are legal. Plus, cough medicines and inhalants (such as glue or computer cleaner) are common household items that parents may not think to keep out of reach of their teenagers.
Effects of Drug Abuse on Teens
Any type of drug abuse can cause serious effects that negatively impact a teenager’s life. Consider the following effects that drugs can have on teens:
- Brain damage — The teenage years are some of the most formative years for the development of the brain. When teens abuse drugs, they impede upon that development. Depending on the type of drug that is being abused, teens can suffer brain shrinkage (which can lead to cognitive and learning problems), impaired reasoning and perception, and memory problems.
- Diseases — Drug abuse can lead to the contraction of diseases, no matter how young or old a person is. Teenagers are not exempt from contracting life-altering and deadly diseases like hepatitis C or HIV, which they can get from sharing needles or having unprotected sex while under the influence.
- Mental illness — Studies have shown that teenagers who smoke marijuana are at higher risk for developing an anxiety disorder. The abuse of other drugs can also increase a teen’s likelihood of developing a mental illness. For example, opioids can trigger the onset of symptoms related to depression while meth can cause psychosis. Anytime drugs are abused, the structure and function of the brain changes, increasing one’s odds of struggling with mental illness.
Teenagers who abuse drugs are adding fuel to the fire in terms of behavioral changes. Not only are they under the influence, but they are also going through internal changes that are impacting their behaviors. When drug abuse is occurring, teenagers are at higher risk for violent behavior, stealing, or joining gangs. And, the younger the use begins, the more likely teens are to develop a substance use disorder in the future.
Do You or Someone You Love Need Help?
If you are a teenager and are struggling with drug abuse, do not be afraid to speak up and ask for help. No matter how fearful you might be of admitting to your parents, friends, and other loved ones that your drug use has become unmanageable, it is imperative that you do so. Those who love you will want nothing more than to see you get better and live a happy, healthy life free of drug abuse.
If you are a parent or guardian of a teenager with a drug addiction, reach out to JourneyPure right now. We understand how difficult and heartbreaking this time in your lives can be. With our guidance, your teenager can stop his or her active drug addiction and develop the skills needed to maintain a sober lifestyle.
So, do not wait. Call JourneyPure right now. We can help.
Michelle Rosenker is a content writer for JourneyPure where she gets to exercise her journalistic skills by working with different addiction treatment centers nationwide. She has 10 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment and mental health and has written content for some of the country’s most prominent treatment centers and behavioral hospitals. Through her writing, Michelle is proud to continually raise awareness about the disease of addiction and share hope for the future. She lives next to the ocean in Massachusetts with her husband, two young children, and faithful dog.