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Mental Illness and Substance Abuse in Teens

Although drug abuse has declined in the past 20 years (1), teens are using certain substances, like marijuana, more than ever. Mental illness and substance abuse in teens requires treatment, as co-occurring disorders can make it difficult to live a healthy and normal life. While all teens and adolescents experience anxiety, stress, and sadness, some teens struggle with mental illness. Mental health disorders make it difficult, if not impossible, to control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without treatment. Unfortunately, certain mental health disorders, like anxiety, are becoming more prevalent among teens. Roughly one out of every three teens will struggle with an anxiety-related disorder by the time they turn 18,  demonstrating just how common mental health symptoms are among teens.

Mental Illness and Substance Abuse in Teens

Addiction causes you to compulsively abuse drugs despite wanting to quit using or dealing with harmful consequences as a result of your use. Mental health disorders create symptoms that impact your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Both mental illness and substance abuse in teens can cause debilitating symptoms that impact your daily life. Struggling with depression or anxiety can make it hard to cope with negative emotions. Failing to receive treatment can lead to drugs and alcohol, presenting an attractive way to self-medicate. Mental illness and substance abuse in teens is connected because troubling emotions and mental health symptoms can lower inhibitions and impair judgment. This can make you more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, especially since intoxication immediately alleviates certain symptoms. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol create neurotransmitter imbalances that aggravate mental health conditions. That makes mental illness and substance abuse in teens a dangerous mix, as it can create a troubling pattern of relying on drugs and alcohol to cope with stress, major life changes, and anxiety. Common signs of mental illness and substance abuse in teens include:

  • Drastic changes in behavior
  • Poor grades and truancy
  • Hanging out with friends who use drugs and alcohol
  • Increased anger
  • Weight loss and changes in appearance
  • Isolating from others

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Having both a mental health and substance abuse disorder can make your recovery journey more challenging, as you have to treat both conditions to make a full recovery. That means participating in a dual diagnosis program is essential, as it provides you with access to mental health and addiction treatment specialists. An adolescent dual diagnosis treatment program ensures that your mental health disorder is properly addressed. This is important as medication changes are common during recovery. Since addiction changes your brain’s chemistry, it takes time for your brain to heal and relearn how to release neurotransmitters properly. It’s common for mental health disorder symptoms to become more severe during recovery, especially during withdrawal. Co-occurring disorders treatment programs can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting. The treatment is uniquely positioned to monitor your mental health during all stages of your recovery.

Finding Help Today

Mental illness and substance abuse in teens requires treatment. Usually, symptoms remain unmanageable until help is received. Thus, it’s vital to find support early. No matter what stage of addiction you’re in, recovery is always possible. No matter the substance teens abuse, whether drugs or alcohol, at Destinations for Teens we offer comprehensive therapeutic treatment. For instance, teens in our programs participate in the following:

Also, adolescents have special needs when struggling with substance abuse. Thus, we offer depression, anxiety, and other treatment programs to address their needs. To learn more about our adolescent treatment programs, contact Destinations for Teens today at 877.466.0620.   Citations 1-National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth Trends,