The use of drugs amongst teens is nothing new. Teenagers and adolescents are curious by nature and, for many, part of growing up means experimenting with drugs or alcohol. As common as it is for teens to experiment with drugs or alcohol, however, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe. A “little” experimentation can go a long way, with some teens hooked before they even know what’s hit them.
It should come to no surprise that many new drug users are under the age of eighteen. This phase of teenage rebellion can have drastic consequences. The temptation a teen finds to use drugs can come from peers, social media, stress, unresolved emotional issues, and the longing to escape.
The teenage years are a hard time. Many teens use drugs simply to feel better about everything going on around them. They do provide a heightened sense of wellbeing, after all…a reason many teens keep on using far past the stage of innocent experimentation.
The Problem with Prescriptions
Prescription Pain Pills
Prescription opioid use has been steadily increasing for more than a decade. Although new studies show a decline in teen opioid use, the opioid epidemic that has swept across the nation has been especially hard-hitting amongst the teenagers in all demographics. Addiction to opioids isn’t uncommon and can occur without a family even realizing it’s happened.
Many of the teens that are prescribed opioids for injuries are finding it does much more than just getting rid of their pain. Some prescriptions leave teens hooked, although it’s not something that gets much media attention. These teens who are becoming addicted to prescription opioids run a greater risk of becoming addicted to heroin.
Many experts agree that that the unfortunate heroin epidemic we’re facing is because of the alarming number of people who are getting addicted to prescription pills. Heroin not only offers the same effects as these prescriptions, but does so at a fraction of the price.
Opioids aren’t the only prescription medication teens are abusing. Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin that are prescribed for ADD and ADHD, are commonly abused amongst teens on a regular basis. Not only are these “legal” drugs easy to attain, but because they’re legal many teenagers don’t see them holding any potential for harm.
Prescription drugs like these are often found in a teens own household. Prescription opioids and stimulants alike are often stolen from parents/family members, and used and sold amongst teens and their peers. Teens who have their own prescriptions for substances like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin should always be closely monitored by parents. The same is true for Ritalin and Adderall, both commonly prescribed to teens and adults alike who suffer from ADHD. Even though they’re legal, these substances can pose a real danger to teens who become dependent on them.
While prescription use amongst teens is undoubtedly a problem, at this vulnerable stage of their life they run the risk of abusing a variety of different drugs. Peer pressure and the need to fit in are some of the biggest reasons teens become addicted to drugs. No teenager is immune the dangers of drug experimentation. Commonly abused drugs amongst teens include marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamines.
Why Teen Drug Use is Such a Problem
Many teens don’t see drug use as a big deal. They’re teenagers after all, and they often feel invincible during this time of their life. And, as much as teenagers think they’ve got it all figured out, they’re still learning. Their brains are still developing. And they often lack the experience and self-confidence to know when to say no.
Drug use amongst teens poses a serious problem to those who find their stage of experimentation has slipped into something more serious. Teen drug abuse pose some serious damage to the developing mind, and can have a severe impact on a teen’s mental, emotional, and physical state. Many teens use drugs to cover up feelings of anxiety or depression, but don’t realize that their drug will ultimately make these issues worse. Teenagers who abuse drugs also run a high risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Teens that abuse drugs are also more likely to engage in risky behavior. This includes having unprotected sex, which increases the risks of teen pregnancy and contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Sexual assault is also more common amongst teens who are using drugs or alcohol.
And though addiction rates among teens has shown a slight decline, the reality of teen drug abuse and addiction is still alive and as dangerous as it ever was. Anyone who has ever seen a teen addicted to drugs knows how devastating the effects of substance abuse at any early age can truly be. Even if a teen doesn’t develop an addiction when they’re young, teenagers that abuse drugs are far more likely to develop substance abuse issues and addiction later in life.
Teen drug abuse is an unfortunate reality that can have dire consequences. When teen drug use goes unchecked it can lead to a lifetime of problems. If you have teenagers, it’s important to realize the risks involved with the abuse of drugs or alcohol and do your best to talk openly with your teen about them. Teenagers deserve a future of hope and possibility. Not one that is tainted with addiction.