Forming an addiction at a young age may not be as obvious compared to adults but the signs and symptoms can be easily identified. Most of the time, people don’t really know what they have an addiction until it is too late. So if you want to know more information about addiction among teens, this article can help shed light on that.
Preteens with ages 11-13 are among the vast majority of middle schoolers that have never tried drinking or smoking illicit substances. However, as soon as they reach high school, they are more likely to try and dabble with drugs and alcohol. In research done at the University of Michigan in 2017, it was reported that there was an increase of 1.3% in marijuana use among teens. This marks the first significant increase in the last seven years. It is believed that a decline in alcohol abuse started in the 80s and after two decades, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2016 has reported that an increase of 2.3 million teens ages 12 to 17 were reported to have used alcohol in the past months. In the same year, about 1.9 million adolescents within this age group were also reported to have used illicit drugs.
Because of these statistics, it is believed that teens who have used drugs and alcohol at an early age are at risk for addiction later in life. It also imposes threats of long-term health consequences because teens fail to understand the dangers of abusing drugs and alcohol.
8 Reasons Adolescents Use Drugs and Alcohol
There is a myriad of reasons why teens experiment with drugs and alcohol but we have narrowed it to the eight common reasons. These are among the factors that many adolescents are compelled to use drugs and alcohol as well as develop an addiction in the long run.
- People around them – being an adolescent is hard for many teens. It is the age where people don’t take you seriously and you cannot be a child anymore because you are at “that age” where you need to learn how the world works while developing your own self. That is why it is also considered to be an age where anything adolescents do can mold them into the adult that they will be. Teens are often exposed to people where consuming various substances like alcohol, cigarettes and others are considered “part of growing up”. As a teenager, most social scenes include drinking alcohol or smoking pot as urged by friends and other people. And for them, being in this circle where drugs and alcohol are involved can impress a young mind as something “normal” and is all part of being a teenager not understanding that this can ruin their lives in the long run.
- Social Media influences – with today’s age and time, it is very common for drugs and alcohol to be a part of a TV show, movies, parties, songs, etc. That being said, many teens today are into drugs and alcohol mainly because of the social media influences that they are attracted to.
- As a means of self-medication and escape – not all teens live a normal life with complete parents. Many teens today come from broken families or broken marriages which can be a source of unhappiness and despair. This is why many adolescents dabble in drugs which can help them forget an unhappy home life or escape the reality that they are facing within the home or school life. Teenage years are often the roughest years for a growing child and this is especially true if they come from a dysfunctional home where no one checks on their well-being. Among the most common drugs abused during these years are prescribed pain relievers and stimulants to basically cope with their social, emotional and academic stresses.
- Experiment and boredom – many teens end up experimenting with substance use when they are bored. Adolescents who cannot bear being alone usually have trouble keeping themselves occupied. The craving for excitement and thrills are often among the most common causes for these substance abuses. Not only do drugs and alcohol give them something to do but it also fills that bottomless void they feel especially when they are often neglected as a child. It also gives them an excuse to bond with other teens who have the same struggles.
- An act of rebellion – the teenage years are the years when rebellion against parents and society form. The use of alcohol gives them the freedom to behave aggressively and substances encourage their aggressive and angsty behaviors. It is during this age that many teens feel like they are misunderstood and the act of smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol gives them the power to show off their independence.
- For instant satisfaction – both drugs and alcohol work fairly quickly on teenagers. The feel-good effects of these substances often give teenagers the happiness they need when they are looking for something that their parents or society cannot give. That being said, the repeated use of drugs and alcohol can lead to addiction at an early age.
- Boosts confidence – there are plenty of shy teenagers who look confident when drunk or high and those who have low self-esteem are often influenced to take such substances in order to gain the same effects. This is because it loosens their inhibitions to do the things they were scared or shy to do in the first place. That being said, it is common for many teenagers to take a drink or two before doing something that scares them but little do they know that they are already forming an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
- Lack of information about drugs and alcohol – one of the most common causes of drug and alcohol abuse is the lack of education taught to adolescents. If you ask a group of teenagers, there will always be one friend who claims they have knowledge about certain drugs and alcohol but let’s face it, this is all about bragging rights for many kids. Most teens are not able to grasp the full weight of their substance abuse habits.
What to Do If Your Child is At Risk of Addiction
If you have a teenage child or children, it is important to educate them about drug/alcohol abuse and its consequences. Providing them with real facts about the dangers of using these substances can help save their lives. Keep in mind that teenagers are impressionable, so whatever behavior you present and the example you show them will be embedded in them forever.
So make sure to provide them with the right education and information about these things. This way they can avoid being pressured into trying drugs or alcohol and even avoid experimenting with them. Being a responsible adult is the first step that you can do to help avoid teenage addictions to develop.
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