Teens are also more prone to making risky and dangerous decisions because many parts of the brain, including the decision-making centers, take nearly 30 years to fully develop. When you mix a still-developing brain with school and stress, drug and alcohol use can quickly follow. Adolescence is an especially trying time. Peer pressure, puberty, stress, and school can make it easy for teens to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Drug and alcohol use is also pretty common among teens, with about two-thirds of 12th graders having drunk at least once. Since all substances, including alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana, the three most commonly used substances among teens, carry the risk of causing dependency, even recreational and experimental use is dangerous.
Teens, School, and Stress
While high-school may not seem overwhelming, teens experience more stress than adults. Mental illness and symptoms of anxiety and depression are also common among teens, with 30% of teens dealing with depression and anxiety as a direct result of stress. School and stress can also impact your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. When you experience stress, it can weaken your immune system and cause exhaustion. School and stress can also create significant academic pressure. Balancing classwork with college applications, sports, and extracurricular activities can increase stress, which can lead to potentially unhealthy coping mechanisms like drug and alcohol use. While moodiness is common during adolescence, symptoms of major mood changes can be indicative of several serious problems, ranging from mental health disorders to addiction. Signs and symptoms that your teen may be struggling with their mental health or substance use include:
- Isolating from friends and family members
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Significant changes in physical appearance (drastic weight changes, bloodshot eyes)
- Losing interest in work, school, and hobbies
- Changing groups of friends frequently
If your teen is struggling with school and stress, it’s important to help them learn how to cope with stressors and triggers in a healthy, positive manner.
Handling School and Stress in Teens
Addiction and mental health disorders are chronic conditions, meaning that treatment is necessary because you need to learn how to manage and control symptoms in order to recover. Early treatment is very important because substance abuse disorders become progressively worse. Experimental and recreational use is dangerous because when you use drugs or alcohol, your brain associates that substance with pleasure. When you have one pleasurable experience with a substance like marijuana or alcohol, it increases your chances of using other drugs. Additionally, recreational use can create a cross-tolerance, which impacts how intense the intoxication will be when you use other drugs. Also, addiction is a complex disease changing your brain’s pleasure and reward center. Thus, this means it can take time to fully recover. During the course of addiction, your brain rewards your drug and alcohol use by releasing a pleasurable rush of neurotransmitters. The process positively reinforces and encourages you to continue using drugs and alcohol. Eventually, this can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Triggers and cravings, combined with painful withdrawal symptoms, can make it hard to recover without treatment. During treatment, you learn how to handle conflict, process your thoughts and emotions and utilize healthy coping mechanisms. An important part of treatment includes learning how to identify, change, and control negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This is because doing so decreases your risk of relapsing.
Treatment for Teen Stress
At Destinations for Teens, we provide comprehensive teen treatment to assist adolescents in overcoming mental health issues such as teen stress and depression. Our highly trained staff offers a variety of evidence-based treatments such as:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Motivational interviewing (MI)
We also offer age-appropriate recreational activities and life skills groups. Both allow our clients to make meaningful changes in their behavior. Our goal is to help teens develop the skills necessary for them to lead healthy, productive lives. We also provide family therapy to ensure that teens have a strong support system in place. Naturally, we work closely with parents and guardians every step of the way. We strive to be a safe haven where adolescents can heal from stressful experiences or substance abuse issues and start taking control of their lives. With our comprehensive teen treatment program, we are committed to helping our clients overcome mental health and/or addiction issues and create meaningful changes in their lives.
Reach Out for Help Today
Adolescence is a difficult time, with school and stress sometimes making it hard to handle daily life. Other times, school and stress can drive you to cope with drugs and alcohol. When your teen is experiencing symptoms of substance abuse or mental health disorder, early treatment is the best way to help. Contact Destinations for Teens today at 877.466.0620 to learn more about our specialized teen-recovery programs.