Many parents of adolescents recognize that their child’s drug use is a serious problem but do not know what to do about it. Parents often worry that putting their child in a professional rehab setting will be too punitive or may permanently damage the parent-child relationship.
However, adolescent substance abuse is a serious problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Continuing to drink or use drugs can have serious repercussions that last a lifetime. Here are six reasons you need to talk to your teen about drug use and abuse now.
Why You Need to Talk To Your Teen About Drug Use Now.
1. Use of Drugs or Alcohol in Adolescents Is a Big Predictor of Lifelong Struggles with Addiction
One of the biggest concerns for adolescents experimenting with drugs or alcohol is that they will have lifelong struggles with addiction. In fact, 90% of adults who meet criteria for addiction report that they began using alcohol or drugs before the age of 19, according to a report from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
Trying alcohol or other drugs as an adolescent significantly increases your child’s risk of developing addiction as an adult.
2. Adolescents Who Use Drugs Perform More Poorly in School and Are Less Likely to Seek Higher Education
Using drugs increases the likelihood that a teenager will skip school, get bad grades, and fail to succeed academically. Part of this is because drug use increases impulsive behaviors and impairs decision-making.
Adolescents may not fully realize the long-term consequences of their actions. Skipping school may seem like a fun idea at the time, but it can seriously impair your child’s academic success and chances of seeking higher education.
3. Adolescent Substance Use Can Contribute to Depression, Anxiety and Other Mental Health Problems
Drugs and alcohol affect an area of the brain called the limbic system, which is responsible for processing emotional information. One of the consequences of drug use is that it makes people more susceptible to depression and other mood problems.
4. Drug Use Affects the Developing Brain, Resulting in Long-lasting Changes in Thinking Abilities
The human brain does not fully complete development until the early 20s. Adolescents are in the midst of a critical period in brain development in which the brain’s long distance connections are continuing to be created.
As a result, drug use can affect adolescents’ thinking abilities. Teenagers who use drugs tend to process information more slowly, have difficulties with complex reasoning and decision-making, and have poorer memory.
5. Adolescents Who Use Drugs Are More Likely to Engage in Other Risky Behaviors
One of the critical brain areas impacted by substance use is the prefrontal lobe, which is responsible for making decisions and inhibiting inappropriate responses.
For teens experimenting with drugs, development in this area may be slowed. This contributes to an increase in risk-taking behaviors, including further drug experimentation, risky sexual practices, and thrill seeking. These behaviors can have very serious long term consequences.
6. Substance Abuse During Adolescence Can Be Fatal
Using drugs can lead to fatal overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug overdoses kill more people than car accidents, gun violence, and falling. Helping your child get treatment for drug addiction can literally be a life-saving choice.
To learn more about the dangers of substance abuse and how we can provide support, give us a call at 877-466-0620.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse, What are the unique needs of adolescents with substance use disorders? Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment, December 2012, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/what-are-unique-needs-adolescents-substance
- Columbia University National Center on Addiction and Substance Use, Adolescent substance use: America’s #1 problem, June 2011, http://www.casacolumbia.org/addiction-research/reports/adolescent-substance-use
- National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug overdoses kill more than cars, guns, and falling, Drugs and Health Blog, June 2014, http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/drug-overdoses-kill-more-than-cars-guns-and-falling