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Are Teens More at Risk for Addiction Than Adults?

Teen addiction is a growing issue for families. Unfortunately, it is easy for teens to experiment with drugs and alcohol and become addicted at alarming rates. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, an estimated 86 percent of teens know someone who actively abuses drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes daily. And although adults can become addicted to drugs and alcohol, teens are at a greater risk for long-term addiction. If you believe your teen is participating in substance abuse, it never hurts to observe their behavior. Destination for Teens provides comprehensive teen treatment centers. Give us a call today to learn more about adolescent addiction by calling 877.466.0620. Adolescent addiction presents many long-term risks for teens. Below are some reasons why teens are more at risk for addiction than adults.

Adolescent Addiction Impacts a Developing Brain

During the adolescent years, teens are growing and changing. Drug abuse—especially teen addiction–can have severe effects on brain development. These effects include:

  • developing memory problems
  • preventing neurotransmitters from making connections within the brain
  • less able to experience natural pleasure without drugs
  • developing poor, unhealthy habits that impact brain circuitry
  • Affecting teens’ ability to be more perceptive

When teens are abusing drugs or alcohol, they are more likely to make poor decisions such as drunk driving or participating in unprotected sexual activity. These behaviors can lead to long-term consequences.


Self-medication has become one of the biggest reasons why teens get addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age. Teens that have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, depression or anxiety, who choose to use drugs or alcohol will find that can relax them emotionally. However, these feelings will not last long.

Peer Pressure and Experimentation

Peer pressure often makes teens develop poor habits. If your teen is socializing with other teens who drink alcohol or use drugs, they too will be willing to try. And as they experience pleasure from substance abuse, they will become interested in experimenting with other drugs. In time, experimentation can lead to teen addiction.

Not Enough Parental Involvement

The teenage years are pivotal as they are preparing for adulthood. A teen’s time should be spent developing talents and skills, working hard in school, and dreaming of a bright future. Yet, when parents are not actively involved in their teen’s life, there is room for a teen to experiment and become addicted to substances. In addition, if parents are not present to help teens abusing drugs, they can slip into a long-term addiction that can last well into adulthood.

Children of Addicts May Become Addicts

Another reason teens are more at risk for addiction is that they are emulating the behavior of adults in their lives. It is not uncommon for teens exposed to drugs or alcohol to begin experimenting at an early age. According to data collected from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 8.7 million children have at least one parent who abused drugs or alcohol. Consider the following California drug treatment programs for teens struggling with substance use disorder:

Help Your Teen: Get Treatment for Teen Addiction

If you know that your teen is abusing alcohol or drugs, it is time to reach out for help. Teens who use drugs are more likely to become involved in criminal activity. In addition, teens who actively use drugs or alcohol often participate in unprotected sex. And even worse, under the influence, some teens have been victims of sexual assault. In addition, the longer a teen is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the greater the likelihood that this will carry over into adulthood. Contact Destinations for Teens at 877.466.0620 to discover how to help your teen fight their addiction.