Just say no, just doesn’t cut it.
A recent study shows drug abuse in teens is starting as early as eighth grade. A surprising 13% of the 8th graders they spoke to in the study claim they’ve used a drug within the past year.
For the older teenagers, an unsettling 40% of 12th graders, also are reporting using at least one drug within the past year. It would appear that telling our teenagers to “just say no”, isn’t an effective way to prevent drug use.
Instead, parents need to more fully understand what it is their kids are up against. Social pressures and underlying genetic factors, can both play a part in contributing to drug abuse. Read on to learn the truth about why teenagers use drugs, and how you can help.
Causes of Drug Abuse in Teens
It’s a common misconception that bad kids use drugs, and good kids stay away from them. Drug abuse doesn’t have anything to do with a person’s morals or ethics. Here are some of the most common risk factors that can contribute to drug abuse amongst teenagers.
- Substance abuse in the family
- Chronic anxiety
- Mental illness
- Feeling like an outcast
- Traumatic events
When substance abuse is in the family history, your teen will have an increased risk of using themselves. There are several reasons these teenagers are more likely to use.
One of the main reasons is that they may have an easier time accessing substances. For example, a teenager who comes from a house of active alcoholics will find it easier to obtain liquor.
Yet, what about teenagers who have seen a family member struggle with a substance, and then get help? Witnessing a loved one battle with addiction can be motivation for some teenagers to stay clean.
Still, there are some scientists who believe addiction can be hereditary. Teenagers who carry the addiction gene may find it harder to quit a substance once they begin using it.
How Teenagers Become Addicted
For some people, they only have to use a substance once or twice to trigger an addiction. This is because addiction works by hijacking your brain.
Your brain is the most intricate organ in your body. It’s responsible for everything you do during the day, even the things your not aware you’re doing. In order to get everything done, your brain relies on complex circuits and networks of neurons.
Drugs, immediately interrupt the way your brain uses its neurons. Certain drugs will pretend to be neurons, and fire off strange, abnormal messages through your body. While, other drugs can control the brains neurons, and tell them to send messages they shouldn’t be sending.
Drugs like cocaine, pain pills, or meth, tell your brain to release large amounts of dopamine and serotonin. These hormones trick your brain and body into feeling good. The false feelings of pleasure teach your brain to crave the drug that made it feel so good.
In fact, the good feelings drugs can cause, work as a type of reward system. Our brains help us survive, by using reward systems throughout our life. When we do healthy things, like exercise, our brain releases serotonin and dopamine to reward us.
After a while of prolonged use, the body will stop naturally producing the feel-good hormones. Since your body, wants you to feel good, your brain will send out a craving for the drug you’ve been abusing. Teenagers can quickly find themselves in a vicious cycle of constantly needing a substance to simply feel normal.
Preventing Teenage Drug Abuse
Preventing drug use amongst teenagers has to start with the parents. It’s up to the parents to provide clear details about all of the negative consequences drugs can cause.
Parents also need to be honest with their teenagers about why people use certain drugs. This means parents need to cover everything when they are discussing drugs with their teenagers.
Instead of saying things like “it’s bad to do drugs”, go into the science of how euphoric drugs can make a person feel, and how they damage the body. The more your child knows about the truth, and science of drugs, the better equipped they’ll be to resist any temptation.
In addition to informing your teenagers about how drugs ruin lives, you’ll also need to play an active part in their life. Even if you trust your teenager, you should still have clear boundaries and rules in place to prevent any drug use.
For example, parents should always know where their teenagers are at all times. It’s not unfair for a parent to expect to know who their adolescent is with, as well as where they will be going.
Take a Stand for Your Family
Finally, if you or a loved one, think there might be a problem, don’t wait to take action. The longer you wait to speak up, the worse the situation can become. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for drug abuse in teens to eventually result in a fatality.
Northbound’s Drug Addiction Treatment is proud to help people lead the lives of their dreams. We love being able to help people achieve things they once thought were impossible, because of addiction.
Did you know that taking the first step towards recovery, can often feel the scariest? Remember, you don’t have to go through this process alone.
It’s our privilege to help guide our clients towards a more healthy and positive phase of their lives. Fill out our admissions form today to schedule your very own confidential call. You can expect one of our caring, and knowledgable team members to contact you within 12 hours of your submission.