There is a high likelihood that your teen will be exposed to drugs and alcohol, and according to drug statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse there is a good chance that your teen will try drugs. Teens as young as 13 have often already tried drugs as powerful as cocaine. Teens might tell themselves they will only try a drug once, but many teens find themselves under continual peer pressure to continue to experiment with drugs and “join the party.”
Most teens don't start using drugs expecting to develop a substance abuse problem, and while most teens probably see their drug use as a casual way to have fun, there are negative effects that are a result of this use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs. The biggest consequence to casual drug use can be that it develops into a true addiction. Very few addicts recognize when they have crossed the line from casual use to addiction.
Most teens don't think that they will become addicted, and simply use drugs or alcohol to have a good time and be more like their friends. When teens become addicted they lose friends, develop health problems, start to fail in school, experience memory loss, lose motivation, and alienate their family and friends with their negative behaviors and often unpredictable emotional swings.
If you are a parent who is concerned about your teen, the signs to look for are declining interest in activities your teen once enjoyed, changes in school performance, and unpredictable mood swings that seem to be about more than just teen hormones.
Abuse of drugs and alcohol can also change friendships, as teens begin to move away from old friends who don't approve of their drug use and begin to associate with fellow drug users who will encourage and support one other's drug use. Parents should be very concerned when teens dump one group of friends for another, especially if they are secretive about the new peer group.
Most teens who are addicted won't see a problem with their behavior or their drug use. Drugs make them feel good, and are a way to relieve the stress of school, problems at home, disagreements with friends, and other pressures of growing up.
The sooner you can recognize that your child or your friend is abusing alcohol or other drugs, the sooner you can seek help. If you notice changes in behavior, changes in friends, lying about after school or weekend activities, changes in mood, or depression your teen might have a problem with substance abuse.
If you or someone you care about has a drug problem, talk to them about it and encourage them to get help. Addiction treatment programs specializing in teens can help your child build a strong foundation for long-term recovery.
If you are a teen concerned about your own drug use, parents are probably the last people you want to ask for help, but they can but they can help you to find the treatment program that will support and guide you through recovery. If you are a parent or friend of a teen who has a substance abuse problem, talk to them about their problem and encourage them to get help. The sooner you or someone you love gets help, the more likely they are to achieve successful recovery.
Being a teenager is often a confusing, challenging time, which can make teens vulnerable to falling into a destructive pattern of drug use. While most teens probably see their drug use as a casual way to have fun, there are negative effects that are a result of this use of alcohol or other drugs. Even if adolescent drug use does not necessarily lead to adult drug abuse, there are still risks and consequences of adolescent drug use. These negative effects usually include a drop in academic performance or interest, and strained relationships with family or friends.
Adolescent substance abuse can greatly alter behavior, and a new preoccupation with drugs can crowd out activities that were previously important. Drug use can also change friendships as teens begin to associate more with fellow drug users, who encourage and support one another's drug use. For adolescents, these changes as a result of substance abuse signal a problem in the teen's environment, and should be seen as a call to action for parents, teachers, or friends to seek help for their loved one.