Teenagers may be involved with legal
or illegal drugs in various ways. Experimentation with drugs during
adolescence is common. Unfortunately, teenagers often donšt see
the link between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow.
They also have a tendency to feel indestructible and immune to
the problems that others experience.
Using alcohol and tobacco at a young
age increases the risk of using other drugs later. Some teens
will experiment and stop, or continue to use occasionally, without
significant problems. Others will develop a dependency, moving
on to more dangerous drugs and causing significant harm to themselves
and possibly others.
Adolescence is a time for trying
new things. Teens use drugs for many reasons, including curiosity,
because it feels good, to reduce stress, to feel grown up or to
fit in. It is difficult to know which teens will experiment and
stop and which will develop serious problems.
I At Risk?
Teenagers at risk for developing
serious alcohol and drug problems include those:
- with a family
history of substance abuse
- who are depressed
- who have low
- who feel like
they donšt fit in or are out of the mainstream
a variety of drugs, legal and illegal.
Teens who smoke are three
times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times
more likely to use marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use
cocaine. Smoking is associated with a host of other risky behaviors,
such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex.
medications (such as Ritalin)
Known by such street names as huffing, sniffing and wanging,
the dangerous habit of getting high by inhaling the fumes of
common household products is estimated to claim the lives of
more than a thousand children each year. Many other young people,
including some first-time users, are left with serious respiratory
problems and permanent brain damage.
cough, cold, sleep, and diet medications
About one half of the people in the United States
have used marijuana, many are currently using it and some will
require treatment for marijuana abuse and dependence.
The possible long-term effects include tolerance and dependence,
violence and aggression, malnutrition due to suppression
of appetite. Crack, a powerfully addictive stimulant, is
the term used for a smokeable form of cocaine. In
1997, an estimated 1.5 million Americans, age 12 and older,
were chronic cocaine users.
drugs: This term refers to drugs being used
by teens and young adults at all-night dance parties such as
"raves" or "trances," dance clubs, and bars.
MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB, Rohypnol (Rophies), ketamine, ,
and LSD are some of the club or party drugs gaining popularity.
Because some club drugs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless,
they can be added unobtrusively to beverages by individuals
who want to intoxicate or sedate others. In recent years, there
has been an increase in reports of club drugs used to commit
These are drugs used medicinally
to relieve anxiety, irritability, tension. There is a high potential
for abuse and, combined with alcohol, effects are heightened
and risks are multiplied.
Several sources indicate
an increase in new, young users across the country who are being
lured by inexpensive, high-purity heroin that can be sniffed
or smoked instead of injected. Heroin has also been appearing
in more affluent communities.
Anabolic steroids are a group
of powerful compounds closely related to the male sex hormone
testosterone. From 1998 to 1999, there was a significant increase
in anabolic steroid abuse among middle-schoolers.
The use of illegal drugs is increasing,
especially among young teens. The average age of first marijuana
use is 14, and alcohol use can start before age 12. The use of
marijuana and alcohol in high school has become common.
Drug use is associated with a variety
of negative consequences, including increased risk of serious
drug use later in life, school failure, and poor judgment which
may put teens at risk for accidents, violence, unplanned and unsafe
sex, and suicide.
of Teen Substance Abuse
repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting
change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible
behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression, and
a general lack of interest.
arguments, breaking rules, or withdrawing from the family.
interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences,
truancy, and discipline problems.
who are less interested in standard home and school activities,
problems with the law, and changes to less conventional styles
in dress and music.
Some of the warning signs listed
above can also be signs of other problems. Friends may recognize
signs of trouble but should not be expected to make the diagnosis.
Consulting a professional, such as
a counselor or a doctor, may help elliminate other possibilities
for a friends odd behavior.
and families must be involved in the recovery process
treatment is appropriate for all teens. It is
important to match treatment settings, interventions, and services
to each individual's particular problems and needs. This
is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to healthy
functioning in the family, school, and society.
must attend to the multiple needs of the individual--not just
the drug use. Any
associated medical, psychological, social, and cognitive problem
must be be addressed.
Remaining in treatment
for an adequate period of time is critical for treatment effectiveness
and positive change. Each
person is different and the amount of time in treatment will depend
on his or her problems and needs. Research shows that for
most individuals, the beginning of improvement begins at about
3 months in treatment. After this time, there is usually
further progress toward recovery.
and/or group) and other behavioral therapies are critical components
of effective treatment. In
therapy, teens look at issues of motivation, build skills to resist
drug use, replace drug-using activities with constructive and
rewarding behaviors, and improve problem-solving skills.
Behavioral therapy also facilitates interpersonal relationships
and the teen's ability to function in the home and community.
or drug-abusing individuals with coexisting mental disorders should
have both disorders treated in an integrated way.
Because addictive disorders and mental disorders often occur in
the same individual, individuals should be assessed and treated
for the co-occurrence of the other type of disorder.
detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment
and by itself does little to change long-term drug use.
Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms
of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. While detoxification
alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence,
for some individuals it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective
drug addiction treatment.
does not need to be voluntary to be effective. Strong
motivation can facilitate the treatment process. Sanctions or
enticements in the family, school setting, or juvenile justice
system can increase significantly both treatment entry and retention
rates and the success of drug treatment interventions.
from addiction can be a long-term process and frequently requires
multiple episodes of treatment. As with other chronic
illnesses, relapses to drug use can occur during or after successful
treatment episodes. Addicted individuals may require prolonged
treatment and multiple episodes of treatment to achieve long-term
abstinence and fully restored functioning. Participation in self-help
support programs during and following treatment often is helpful
in maintaining abstinence.
Information from the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the
National Institute of Drug Abuse.
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