Substance abuse is common among adolescents and young adults, with the most commonly abused substances being alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, and opioids. The risk of exposure to drugs for young people is high especially during adolescence when they are more vulnerable to peer pressure. Drug use can have devastating effects on a person’s health, family, social life, educational achievements, employment opportunities, and overall quality of life. Here are the drugs parents should be aware of who have teenagers possibly facing substance abuse.
Navigating this treacherous and precious time requires parents to be vigilant in monitoring their children’s activities and behaviors. It also requires engaging in open and honest communication.
This article shares some of the best ways for parents to support their teens and some of the most common drugs, symptoms, and side effects to look out for today.
Risks Of Substance Abuse During Adolescence
The risk of substance abuse is prevalent at any age, however, adolescence and young adults tend to be particularly susceptible to developing problems because they are still growing and establishing themselves in society.
Adolescent substance abuse is a serious problem that can lead to many negative consequences including; physical and mental health issues. It also has an impact on the individual’s ability to function socially, economically, academically, and emotionally.
Those at greatest risk to be affected by substance abuse include those struggling with peer pressure and those who are exposed to substances such as alcohol, marijuana, or other illicit drugs before the age of 18 years old. This includes those who live in homes where there is regular access to these substances.
Those who struggle with compulsions and have a tendency to get involved in risky behavior may also be at greater risk for substance abuse. Those who are sexually active, experience emotional distress, or have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorders are also at higher risk.
Several factors contribute to adolescent substance abuse, which includes; genetic predisposition, environmental influences, biological changes, poor decision-making skills, and lack of parental supervision.
Substance Use Disorder (or SUD) is classified as a mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to control their impulses, hence making substance abuse a great risk.
Substance Abuse Among Youth: Statistics
According to the National Center For Drug Abuse Statistics, teenagers in Colorado are 37.40% more likely to have used a substance in the past month than the average teen in the US. Up to 0.69% of which reported that they used cocaine, 0.23% used methamphetamines and 2.06% mused prescription medications. These results show that drug use among teenagers is not only widespread but also increases over time with studies showing that drug use amongst the 8th grade increased by 61% between 2016 and 2020.
In addition to the increase in teenage substance abuse, it is estimated that the majority of teenagers suffering from substance use disorder also suffer from a co-occurring disorder such as:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), etc.
Common Drugs Parents Should Be Aware Of
Some of the most common and high-risk drugs used among teenagers that you should be aware of include; alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, methamphetamine, prescription medications, and even common household substances.
Alcohol is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances in the world. It is often taken recreationally and also serves as a depressant. Alcohol is considered to be one of the most prevalent substances as it is viewed as a socially accepted substance. However, the risk of alcohol being so embedded in society means that young people are likely to encounter it sooner and they may not recognize the adverse effects and health concerns associated with it.
Marijuana is another popular recreational substance that is highly addictive. It is known to cause a reduction in cognitive performance, impaired coordination, and reduced motor skills. In addition, long-term use of marijuana can result in memory loss, paranoia, psychosis, and even death.
Cocaine is a stimulant that is commonly used to enhance mood and increase energy levels. The rush from using this drug causes feelings of euphoria, increased alertness, and decreased appetite. Cocaine carries a high risk of addiction and dependence as well as causing cardiovascular damage, heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and sudden death.
Opioids are painkillers that are derived from opium. They are prescribed for severe pain. However, teenagers are smart and many find ways to get their hands on such substances in other ways. The risks of opioid addiction include respiratory failure, paralysis, coma, and overdose.
Many common prescription medications are abused by adolescents. Some are used recreationally whilst others become tolerant. Prescription medications tend to be highly potent and therefore carry a greater risk of dependency. Prescription medications such as Xanax are highly addictive and should only be used under medical supervision.
Methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that has become increasingly popular amongst teens. Methamphetamine is an extremely dangerous drug that can lead to serious brain damage if not handled properly. This includes hallucinations, delusions, extreme agitation, aggression, and violent behavior.
Common Household Substances
Bath salts are increasingly being used as a substitute for illegal drugs. These are usually made up of synthetic chemicals that mimic the effects of MDMA (ecstasy).
Cough syrups are a very common over-the-counter medication that contains codeine. Codeine is a narcotic analgesic that is used to treat coughs, colds, and sore throats. However, in recent years, cough syrup has become a widely abused substance amongst teenagers as it provides similar effects to illicit drugs.
Parents need to be aware of what their children are doing and putting into their bodies. When children reach a certain age, it can be very easy for parents to feel as if they are no longer needed and that their children/ young adults are now able to navigate the world freely. However, adolescence stands to be a pivotal stage of transition where children are learning about independence and how to make decisions for themselves.
Teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors when alone or with friends than when with family members, report show. Therefore, parents must remain vigilant and ensure that they know what their children are doing.
If you notice any unusual changes in your child’s behavior or appearance, talk to them about it. Encourage open and honest conversation around drugs and create an environment that enables them to approach you if they need to.
A Guide On What To Do If Your Child Is Using Drugs
Being the parent of a child suffering from substance use disorder can be incredibly difficult. You may feel helpless, frustrated, angry, sad, guilty, and scared. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this situation and there are things that you can do to help your child.
Here are some steps to help you move forward:
- Talk to your child about why they are using drugs.
- Understand that addiction is a disease and that recovery is possible.
- Find support groups for families dealing with substance abuse.
- Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of substance abuse.
- Help your child find treatment options.
- Learn about harm reduction strategies.
- Know your rights and responsibilities as a parent.
- Keep your child safe.
- Get involved in your community.
- Don’t give up hope!
If you are concerned about your child’s wellbeing or you are struggling to find ways to provide support, help is always available. Call us today at (855) 281-5588.
Symptoms Of Drug Abuse
One of the most common questions parents ask is “what are the signs of drug abuse?” The following list will outline some of the most common signs and symptoms of drug abuse in adolescents that may help you recognize when it is time to intervene.
- Lack of interest in school
- Poor grades
- Changes in eating habits
- Sleeping problems
- Mood swings
- Thoughts of suicide
Getting Treatment for Your Teen
The best way to get your child the help he needs is to seek professional assistance. There are many different types of treatments available including counseling, therapy, rehab, detoxification, and medications. Some people choose to go through outpatient care while others prefer inpatient care. Getting the right support, advice, and treatment can make all the difference in getting your child back on track.
AspenRidge Recovery: Help Teens & Parents
AspenRidge Recovery is a leading Colorado-based addiction treatment facility. At AspenRidge Recovery, we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional evidence-based treatments that are designed to support clients and their families throughout the journey of recovery and beyond. We ensure that all our clients receive the right treatment for them to achieve long-term recovery. For more information on the treatments and support we provide, get in touch today at 855-281-5588 to speak to a dedicated member of staff.