Substance abuse is often viewed as an adult problem, but there are many teenagers that who suffer just as much from addiction issues. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 2 million Americans aged 12 to 17 in 2015 were illicit drug users, which is 8.8 percent of the adolescent population. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 70 percent of teens try alcohol by their senior year in high school, 40 percent have smoked a cigarette, and 20 percent have tried prescription drugs recreationally.
While teenagers may suffer from substance abuse disorders that appear similar those of their adult counterparts, there are some significant differences. Teenagers still have developing brains, which might cause their bodies and minds to process drugs and alcohol differently than an adult does. A teen may also have different addiction treatment needs than an adult with the same substance use disorder.
The Dangers of Alcohol and Drugs for Teens
The teen years are a time of some of the most profound physical and emotional changes that ever occur in humans. A teen is dealing with physical growth and reproductive and hormonal changes, as well as all of the emotional and cognitive impact that these changes can bring. If these challenges are not managed in a healthy manner, there can be some far-reaching consequences.
A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concludes that “adolescence is a unique period in neurodevelopment.” Alcohol and drug abuse among teens can produce abnormalities in brain functioning, which have been associated with neurocognition over time. Teens not only learn to use substances as coping mechanisms, but they can also do damage to undeveloped organs such as their heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.
Where to Start with an Addicted Teen
Some parents are not sure whether or not substance abuse is an issue with their teen. According to NIDA, there are several telltale signs that indicate there may be a problem. Among these are:
- Change in friends or peer group
- Decline in academic performance
- Skipping school and other school discipline problems
- Trouble with the law
- Lack of attention to grooming
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Deterioration in relationships with family and friends
Asking or demanding that a teen stop using drugs might seem like a reasonable approach from a parent’s perspective, but an addicted teen likely will not be able to stop on his or her own. Addiction alters the brain to the point that decision-making and behavior control becomes difficult, if not impossible. In most cases, an addiction treatment program is necessary for an addicted teen to begin the process of recovery.
Addressing the Addiction Treatment Needs of Teens
Teens that are addicted to drugs and alcohol have psychological and emotional needs that are different from an adult’s. If your teen needs addiction treatment, a rehab that recognizes those needs is the best choice. Treatment programs that help teens may also specialize in addressing co-occurring behavioral disorders that might be underlying issues. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are just a few of the issues that may lead to drinking and drug use among teens.
If your teen is struggling with addiction, a teenage addiction treatment program may be the best hope to get him or her on a path to recovery. A comprehensive addiction treatment program will include behavioral therapy, education, and programs that include help for and from family and loved ones. Contact The Recovery Village now to learn about admissions and ask questions about our teen recovery facilities.