The teen years can be an exciting time of discovery and exploration. Many adolescents 13-17 years old are just beginning to navigate through life and determine who it is they want to be. However, for many, this may include trying drugs or alcohol. While some may see this experimentation as a rite of passage, addiction in adolescents can have long-term consequences.
There are a number of reasons adolescents may turn to drug or alcohol use, including:
- Peer pressure or the desire to fit in
- As a coping mechanism for emotions
- To reduce anxiety or pressure of everyday life
WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL ON THE TEENAGE BRAIN?
Regardless of age, the use of drugs or alcohol has an effect on the neurotransmitters, the signal process of the brain. In adolescents, whose brains are not fully developed, the use of substances can damage developing neurological connections, as well as effect perception. Continued use can wire the brain to crave drugs or alcohol, creating a habit, leading to further abuse.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DRUG OR ALCOHOL ABUSE IN ADOLESCENTS?
The signs and symptoms of abuse in teens can vary based on the substance of choice, but may include:
- Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
- Trouble at school or declining grades
- Loss of interest in old hobbies or friends
- Lying, as well as missing money, valuables or prescriptions
- Secretive behavior, locking doors, or sneaking around
- Sudden mood changes or irritability
- Changes is hygiene or physical appearance
If you have noticed unusual changes in your teen and feel that drugs or alcohol may be involved, it’s important to help them seek counseling as soon as possible. When it comes to treating addiction in adolescents, early detection is key, as their brains continue to develop and habits continue to form.
Whether your teen is abusing alcohol, prescription drugs, marijuana or is part of the growing trend of teens experimenting with heroin, recovery is possible. Through counseling and the life-skills support that recovery treatment programs for adolescents.