Nearly 50% of teens use an illegal drug in high school while it’s 43% in college students. Half of them belong to the age group of 12 to 17 and that’s quite an alarming figure. Since almost 30% of all drug use happens on school property, it’s important to know just how bad addiction in teens is. Let’s take a look.
Causes of addiction in teens
Substance abuse can not only lead to addiction but also cause developmental issues, especially those related to cognizance. Still, more than 50% of college-going teens have tried some kind of addictive substance. The following are some usual causes of addiction in teens.
- High school teens
High school is one of the most important phases of an individual’s life. This is a period that results in a complete 180˚ transformation for countless teens. From self-discovery to understanding personal biology, teens have to deal with multiple aspects of growing up simultaneously.
Although drug abuse can induce memory impairment, it doesn’t stop teenagers from using illicit drugs and alcohol due to peer pressure. Teens also commonly use substances to boost their academic performance and excel at extracurricular activities.
- College teens
Most college students work at associate jobs while juggling academics, assignments, and an active social life. But it can be too demanding for some. They may take to drugs and other forms of intoxicants to deal with the stress and pressure of working in a fast-paced environment. Peer pressure and inquisitiveness can also be a driving factor for addiction.
Why do teens use drugs?
Drug abuse is almost always done as a response to one or more stimuli. Most of the drugs used by teens can be classified as alcohol, cannabinoids, and study drugs. Whether it’s to feel more popular or numb complex emotions, below are the most common reasons for teen substance abuse.
- Peer pressure
Peers are the second most important social group in a person’s life. So, they have bigger and more lasting impacts on individuals. They influence people into doing both good and bad things. While the former is never a problem, bad influence often includes substance abuse.
Teens can get addicted to drugs if their peers bully them into doing them. They do it to fit in and feel safer in their chosen social circle. According to NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse), teenagers may also do drugs if “others are doing it.”
- For pleasure
Drugs generally kick people in a state of euphoria. They influence an individual’s neurochemistry to induce happiness and positivity. If a teen undergoes too much pressure in their academics and family group, they may take to drugs to manage depression, anxiety, and stress.
- To experiment
Curiosity drives teenagers. That’s how they learn newer things and advance their lives. When teenagers are curious about drugs, they muster enough motivation to actually use them. Unlike an average adult, teens aren’t developed enough to understand ‘actions and consequences,’ so they often end up making unfavorable decisions.
- Improve grades
Study drugs are actually a type of performance booster that helps teens advance in their academics. Teens use them to stay on top of their academics and to improve their attention in class. Although it takes both parents and teachers to drive them to the edge, the effects of drug abuse are largely dealt with by teens only.
Signs of teen substance use
No teen gets hooked on substances after a day’s use. It’s a gradual process and one that requires meticulous attention. Here are six signs of substance abuse in teens.
- Change in social circle
Curiosity can actually make teens switch their social circles from the ‘sincere lot’ to the ‘addicted lot.’ So, it isn’t uncommon for parents to find their teens hanging out with a different peer group when they are abusing substances.
They might also have poor hygiene and a “diminished personal appearance,” which actually means they stop focusing on grooming.
Teenagers using drugs may show signs of aggression. This is because they find it difficult to control their emotional responses and impulses. If they become unusually argumentative, they are possibly abusing drugs.
Some teens are also found laughing for no reason and frequenting the kitchen to satiate their hunger cravings.
- Declining academic performance
It’s true that some teens actually take drugs to boost their academic performance, the wrong kind of drugs can indeed take them out of their studies. Cannabinoids like hemp and marijuana are calm-inducing drugs, so they don’t make teens more focused. Instead, they make them lose motivation for doing practically anything.
- Loss of interest
Speaking of which, loss of interest is quite a common sign of teens drug abuse. They space out and lack energy, inspiration, and passion for carrying out even simple daily activities like eating and taking a shower.
Sometimes, the change is so drastic that even the most outspoken and zealous individuals can struggle to maintain a normal public presence.
- Eating disorders
A sudden increase in appetite is just one of the many signs of teen substance abuse. But teens can also lose their appetite along the way. They might skip meals, which can lead to significant weight loss in them.
It’s not surprising for teenagers with drug abuse issues to detach from their surroundings. They may not only start avoiding family gatherings and group conversations but also keep secrets and keep to themselves. Some individuals also avoid eye contact due to guilt.
How to prevent addiction in teens
Addiction is kind of the last stop to drug abuse and accounts for 5,000 deaths every year. But if caught early on, it can easily be prevented.
Mental health professionals are usually responsible for talking to teens about their addiction. However, any adult or friend can initiate a dialogue to find out the underlying reasons for the abuse.
Since teenagers with addiction may suffer from aggression, it’s better to avoid a critical tone and adopt friendliness along with support and love. Instead of belittling their strugglers, consider respecting boundaries and exploring possible alternatives to drug abuse.
If the addiction is too severe, the next step can always be approaching counselors, rehab facilities, and recovery centers.
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