Many of us may have sat through a drug prevention assembly where the professionals or advocates come and explain to you or your children how to say, “no” to drugs. At the time, you may have paid attention, and then had a quick 5-minute chat with your child thinking “My teen is very responsible and would never put themself in a situation where drugs are present.”
TEENS AREN’T ALWAYS SAYING “NO” TO DRUGS
Based on the fact that substance use is now a very common and prominent issue in middle and high schools today, it has become clear that most adolescents and teens do not just say “no” when it comes down to it. Many students start misusing substances during middle school or high school.
Many people who suffer from substance-use disorder, report that it began during high school.
THE SIDE EFFECTS AS SIGNS IN YOUR TEEN
- Brain damage, stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders are all possible effects of drug abuse.
- Family relationships may become strained, because parents grow strict as a result of concern for their children. As a result, children continue to rebel and push away their relatives because they think that others don’t understand their true problems.
- Affected students start caring less about getting good grades.
PARTICIPATION IS POPULAR IN HIGH SCHOOL-AGED TEENS
Most United States high schools report that about a fourth of their students are using substances. It is quite easy for students to get their hands on illegal substances with the underhand selling of weed and Juuls becoming increasingly popular. Christopher Hammond, an Assistant Professor of Child Psychiatry at John Hopkins, affirms that “80% of youth experiment with drugs or alcohol before adulthood.”
Addiction has been a prominent issue especially among students in high school for decades due to their developing brains being most susceptible to substance abuse and addiction. Mackenzie Whitesell, a Director of Health, explains that drugs release an excess amount of dopamine to the brain, and since adolescent brains have yet to fully develop and settle, they become chemically dependent on substances for dopamine.
IT IS NOT JUST AN ACT OF REBELLION, IT IS A (BAD) WAY TO COPE
Drug abuse has many causes, most of which are related to untreated past trauma, poor personal relationships, bad coping skills, or poor mental health. Parental relationships particularly have a large effect on students engaging in substance abuse. According to Whitesell, peers can be a cause of addiction or cause of family issues which then leads to addiction and the same goes for students who become a part of a gang.
In most cases, the peer group or gang first initiates the substance abuse, but the backlash received from parents throws gas onto the fire and pushes the student towards drug abuse even more. In the fact sheet, “Adolescent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse”, Matheson explains that abuse, poor modeling from parents, chaos at home, poor communication between parents and children, and availability can all cause high levels of substance abuse within young adult.
Help Prevent Addiction with These Steps:
- Talk to your teens daily and establish a relationship with them so they feel comfortable expressing their emotions. This will serve as a healthy coping mechanism for discussing your emotions, instead of bottling them up inside.
- Research your local community addiction prevention services to gain more info and stay updated on recent drug trends.
- Catching the substance use early on is pivotal to prevent addiction, as it is easy to rectify behaviors that are newer, and the adolescent would not be chemically reliant on the substance.
Read more on the Addiction Prevention Coalition Blog: www.apcbham.org.