One of the great tragedies of youth comes when our young people become involved with drugs and/or alcohol. Addiction’s pitfalls can leave most “mature” adults helpless. It’s only natural that teenagers struggle even more to fight off the effects of teen substance abuse.
The Real World of Teen Substance Abuse
Statistical data shows that the United States has significant drug issues among its young people. Despite recent declines, 14.2% of young adults between the ages of 12–20 reported heavy binge drinking at some point during 2013, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study. Additionally, more than half of the 2.8 million people who reported illicit drug use during that same year were under the age of 18. That’s a significant number of undeveloped minds forced to deal with the very adult disease of addiction. And, while some studies show that use of several substances including ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, and synthetic marijuana have declined, and alcohol and cigarette use have reached new lows, rates of prescription drug abuse and marijuana use have remained steady. With the changing legal status of marijuana in several states, many teens’ perception regarding the safety of marijuana has softened, contributing to the continued use of the drug. Similarly, the legality of prescription drugs and the fact that they are given out by doctors influences teens’ perception of the safety of these as well.
The Costs to a Nation of Teen Substance Abuse
In any society, the young people represent the future. This early onset of substance abuse issues exposes teenagers to things that no one should ever have to experience. In the quest to feed one’s addiction, many teenagers find themselves involved in crimes that lead to incarceration and loss of innocence. Even in a best-case scenario, teens might find themselves having difficulty with their families, with friends or school environment.
All of these issues can stunt a teenager’s social, mental and psychological development. Society pays a heavy price when too many of its young people end up homeless, in trouble or facing teen substance abuse issues. Fortunately, there are a number of highly successful teen addiction treatment programs available. In fact, Sober College in Los Angeles, California offers a unique treatment/educational program.
Teen Drug Abuse Has Changed
The Continued Misuse of Prescription Drugs
Despite the decline in popularity of other substances, prescription drug abuse remains prevalent among adolescents, and some rates of use increasing. Studies suggest that one in ten high school seniors have abused prescription drugs at least once in their lifetime. Teens are misusing prescriptions belonging to friends, family members, and even themselves. Misuse of prescription drugs has risen dramatically in recent years due to increased accessibility and misconceptions surrounding the safety of use. Many teens falsely believe that prescription drugs are safe to use because they are prescribed by doctors.
One reason that teens and young adults often abuse prescription drugs is the belief that these medications produce positive side effects. Whether its weight loss, improved concentration, or increased energy, teens turn to prescription drugs as a form of enhancement. For example, Adderall—a prescription stimulant used to treat attention deficit disorder—is one of the most popularly abused prescription medications today. Adderall is commonly abused as a “study drug,” helping students concentrate and perform better academically. This has caused abuse of this medication to remain relatively high during college as students rely on it to handle difficult workloads rather than developing better time management skills.
Click here to find out some of the ways that teens are giving into peer pressure, causing them to start on a possible journey through drug addiction.
Teen Marijuana Abuse
Marijuana has consistently been one of the most highly abused drugs among teens in the United States. Year after year, the number of teens using marijuana has remained stable, but the perception of risk associated with use has declined. This trend may be due to a number of factors. One is the portrayal of marijuana use in pop culture. Teens are inundated with music, movies, and television shows that regularly depict marijuana use as a normal activity that many teens engage in. It is often associated with fun, happiness, and popularity. This portrayal can influence teens into believing that marijuana use is acceptable and necessary in order to achieve those experiences.
Another influence on the use of marijuana is its changing legal status in multiple states across the country. Several states have legalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana in recent years. The legalization of marijuana can influence a person’s perception regarding its safety and may make it appear safe to use. Legalization may encourage experimentation and lead many who may have not previously used the drug to try it. While marijuana’s legality might cause some people to think its safe, it is important to remember that there are other legal drugs that carry harmful side effects. Cigarettes and alcohol are both addictive substances that can affect health, relationships, and other areas of life. These two substances show that legality does not equal safety, which is important to keep in mind when assessing marijuana.
Teen Drug Abuse
Increased access to prescription drugs and marijuana has influenced the changing statistics regarding teen drug use. Although many falsely believe that legal substances are safer, use of these drugs can lead to addiction, dependency, and potential abuse of other substances. Although drug use at any stage in life is dangerous, it is particularly impactful when used in adolescence. Teens undergo significant developmental and biological changes in their early twenties, and use of drugs or alcohol can be particularly detrimental. Drug and alcohol use can affect the way in which the brain develops, causing permanent rewiring or physical damage that is potentially irreversible.
Although the rates of illicit drug abuse have declined, the use of prescription drugs and marijuana continues to grow and can lead teens down a dangerous path of addiction. Educating teens about the risks associated with use of these drugs is critical in preventing teen drug abuse
About Sober College’s Teen Substance Abuse Treatment Program
Sober College developed a way to get teenagers effective treatment that sticks. These “students” are also given exposure to specific college level classes that might create a desire to focus on one’s education and ultimately, their future. We offer multiple levels of care, including:
Through a team that consists of a therapist, case manager and professor, students get the opportunity to learn about addiction and gain life skills while studying classes like sociology and psychology. They’ll also have access to holistic treatment options centered around activities like surfing, rock-climbing, music and visual arts.
If you have legitimate concerns about your teen’s struggles with addiction, you would be well served to consider our outstanding treatment program here at Sober College.
Have questions regarding teen substance abuse for young adults?
Call 800.465.0142 to speak with an admissions counselor.