Teen Drug Addiction

Main image of blog titled Teen Drug Addiction

Main image of blog titled Teen Drug Addiction

Is there really a difference between adult and teen drug addiction?

To explain the difference between adult and teen drug addiction, it is important to note that the brain develops for about 25 years. Everything that happens during that time has an impact on the brain, everything! Studies suggest that when developed adults use drugs, temporary damage can be done to the brain, but it can usually restore to normal function, if use is not prolonged. However, when teens use drugs, they are preventing normal development from occurring. Thus, even when stopping use, the brain has already lost out on crucial development that should have occurred. Also, chances of becoming addicted are higher if one starts using as a teen. For example, about 9 percent of people who use marijuana become dependent on it; the number increases to about one in six among those who start using it as a teen.

When it comes to drug addiction, treatment plans must be personalized, and teen drug addiction is no exception. It is a harsh reality that teen drug addiction is so prevalent and damaging that it deserves its own sub-section on government websites. Check out the National Health Institute website: https://teens.drugabuse.gov for up-to-date, yearly survey results straight from the source. Drug Abuse Counselors at Stepping Stones understand that teen drug addiction requires special attention.

What types of drugs are teens abusing?

Nationally, marijuana is the most abused substance among teens (1 in 7 teens report having used the substance). Use of marijuana over the last 20 years has remained steady at 22-23% of 12th graders reporting use in the last month. However, vaping or e-cigs are on the rise. In 2018, 20% of 12 graders used e-cigarettes for nicotine and 10% for marijuana. Binge drinking has been on a rapid decline from 31.5% in 1998 to 13.8% in 2018. Prescription drugs are still a concern, but have also declined in their use over the last 15 years. But, Fentanyl has the highest overdosing rate of all opioids. In the U.S. in 2016, almost half (19,000) of 42,000 opioid deaths were related to fentanyl. When we say related, we mean that often times other drugs are laced with fentanyl and the user is unaware. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. A 2015 study comparison done at www.hhs.gov also shows that our Nebraska youth are right on target with these national averages, and sometimes right above them.

If teens know that drugs are addictive, why do they use them?

People use drugs for many reasons:

  • They want to feel good. Taking a drug can feel good for a short time - they get to have those good feelings again and again - until the good feelings don't last and the person uses to keep from feeling bad.

  • They want to stop feeling bad. Some people who feel very worried, afraid, or sad use drugs to try to stop feeling. This doesn't help their problems and can lead to addiction, which can make them feel much worse.

  • They want to do well in school or at work. Some people who want to get good grades, get a better job, or earn more money might think drugs will give them more energy, keep them awake, or make them think faster. But, it may actually put their health at risk and lead to addiction.

What is the cost of teen drug addiction?

Aside from the biggest cost of all, their lives and family heartache, drug addiction comes at a major financial cost to society. Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs costs more than $740 billion annually for crime, lost work productivity, and health care.

What can we do?

Prevention is crucial and it starts at home. According to David DeVries, MS, epidemiology surveillance coordinator for the Division of Behavioral Health, parents have the largest impact on Teen drug addiction. He says, “Children are listening and they are heavily influenced when parents communicate their expectations in relation to use of alcohol and drugs,” DeVries said. “Surveys have shown over and over that parents are the number one influence on a child’s decision to not use alcohol and drugs. As important to influencing their children is the amount of time parents spend actively involved in their children’s lives.” (https://bit.ly/2ZqSbXV)

Sometimes teen drug addiction happens and preventative measures simply do not work. In this case, early intervention is the next best thing,  Stepping Stones offers drug and alcohol evaluations catered to teen drug addiction. This evaluation will establish whether alcohol or other drugs are a problem.  If so, we will provide recommendations and referrals for treatment. We also provide outpatient counseling services by appointment and will work with you to accommodate your scheduling needs. To schedule an appointment at Stepping Stones for teen drug addiction evaluations or outpatient counseling and treatment, call 402-488-6511.