The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found in a recent study that over twenty six percent of teenagers in the United States had drank alcohol in the month prior to the study. About ten percent of Americans age twelve to seventeen are current illicit drug users. Teen drug abuse statistics may be alarming to many, especially those who have loved ones that fit in this age group.
Teen drug and alcohol abuse were on the decline for almost a decade, but have recently began to rise again. One of the factors in this is the extreme rise in teen prescription drug abuse. Prescription medications have been gaining popularity amongst adolescents for several reasons. One possible cause of the raise in rates of abuse is the availability of prescription pills. Prescription medications are amongst the easiest drugs for teenagers to acquire. More new medications are being created, and doctors are prescribing them more rapidly. The abundance of prescription medications puts unused prescriptions in homes where teens can readily access them. Many high school students report that prescription medications are easier to acquire than marijuana or alcohol, as they can go to their parents medicine cabinet or bedroom drawer and take what they need for free.
Teens are going through a period of brain development in which they may have a hard time seeing long-term consequences. The desire for instant gratification takes over rational thought, and drugs are abused at alarming rates. Many adolescents do not see any negative consequences for their drug abuse, and see it as a way to relax and enjoy time with their peers. Although it may be indirect, peer pressure is relevant and common in high schools. Drugs are a popular method of instant acceptance into a social group.
Teen drug abuse facts are far more grim than most teens realize. A study of teen marijuana abuse showed that even after the cessation of drug abuse, teens who abused the substance suffered significant long-term symptoms. Memory loss, cognitive impairment, and decreased motor skills were the most commonly reported symptoms. In addition, the teenage brain is still developing, so the parts of the brain that develop last, such as decision making and what they call rational second thought, or the ability to think things through and control impulsivity. As drugs are abused and the teen is pursuing instant gratification, this portion of the brain is prevented from fully developing, and the individual never really learns to control impulses. This is a leading factor in the vulnerability that teens have to developing a drug addiction. The growing brain is accustomed to the presence of drugs or alcohol, and growth is stunted.
Teen Drug Abuse Help
Fortunately, there are many centers across the country that specialize in the treatment of adolescent drug addicts. Drug addiction can be extremely hard to give up as a teenager due to peer pressure and the altered brain chemistry. Teen drug addiction treatment centers specialize in showing teens a way to live sober and happy, and may help deal with deeper therapeutic issues as well. If they are willing and work hard, many teens are able to maintain long term sobriety throughout high school and college and go on to lead a completely normal life.