Teenagers are more susceptible to drug addiction than adults are. Whether the drug is alcohol, marijuana, street drugs or other substances, there are multiple reasons that teens suffer the devastation of drug addiction sooner than adults do.
Understanding the reasons leads not only to greater knowledge about how teens are more susceptible to addiction, but can enlighten you to seek the help needed in the event your teen has a drug addiction.
Why Are Teens More Susceptible to Drug Addiction than Adults?
Perhaps you never knew that teens suffer from drug addiction more easily than adults do. Teen drug addiction is NOT just the result of teens:
- Having no self-respect
- Suffering from peer pressure
- Bad parenting
- Coming from a poor family
Drug addiction is a complex disease that affects the brain in many ways. Involvement of the brain in drug addiction helps explain the primary reasons that teenagers are more susceptible. This is true no matter what substance is the teen’s drug of choice.
How Drugs Change Your Teen’s Brain
As explained by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Drugs contain chemicals that tap into the brain’s communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive and process information.”
There are multiple factors involved in the way that drugs change the brain and the processes involved with drug abuse and addiction. In a teenager, the effects of changes in the brain occur much faster than in adults. This is because the brain is not yet fully developed.
Drugs Interfere with a Time of Major Brain Development
In fact, the teenage years are a time of major development of the brain, particularly those areas associated with maturity, self-control and decision-making. This lack of complete development in the brain of teenagers explains a variety of teen behavior such as risky and impulsive behaviors and actions.
They seek immediate gratification without regard or complete knowledge of the long-term consequences. When teens experiment with drugs, they get that immediate gratification and seek it out repeatedly.
Why Resisting Drugs Is Harder for Teens
The changes in the not-fully-matured brain of teenagers are also involved in the lack of ability for some teenagers to resist the initial temptation of abusing drugs. The younger a teen starts using drugs not only creates a greater likelihood of progression to full-fledged drug addiction early in life, but also increases the chances of addiction later in life.
Parents may not know what to do to help their teenager who is addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Treatment is imperative to help the teenager overcome the addiction and to heal the entire family.
Helping Your Teen Understand and Overcome Drug Addiction
Understanding that the teenage brain is much more susceptible to drug addiction and less able to resist temptation to use drugs is the first part of helping your teen cope with his drug addiction.
Seeking help for your teenager at a drug treatment program that serves teenagers is imperative. Your teen is not capable of stopping their drug abuse because you take away their phone and refuse to let them associate with their friends, whom you assume are responsible for the drug addiction.
Your teenager needs help from a comprehensive treatment program that treats the whole person, not just the addiction. Your encouragement, understanding and participation in treatment along with your teen is crucial for their recovery.
Give us a call at 877-466-0620 to learn more about teen drug addiction and our addiction treatment services.
- Brain in Progress: Why Teens Can’t Always Resist Temptation, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2015 January, Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2015/01/brain-in-progress-why-teens-cant-always-resist-temptation
- Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revised 2012 November, retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction
- New substance abuse treatment resources focusses on teens, National Institutes of Health, 2014 January, Retrieved from http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jan2014/nida-23.htm