Teenage substance abuse is just as much of a problem for society as is adult substance abuse. It is of large concern because teens are the future adults. They will be the trend setters, law makers, and world runners. The mid-1990’s saw a substantial peak of drug involvement reported by teenagers in high school. There has a been general decline, thank goodness, of teenage substance abuse since that time and it is largely due to the active work of substance abuse counselors and substance abuse awareness programs such as D.A.R.E. We must continue to fight this battle to bolster our teens armor against being victimized by substance abuse.
Teenage Substance Abuse – Uniqueness and Statistics
What makes teenage substance abuse a unique problem for us? Teenage substance abuse is incredible. Over one million teenagers meet the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence and another one million have been treated for alcohol dependency. This is just the age group of 12 to 17 years of age. The National Institue of Health reported in 2006 that the percentage of 8th graders who had ever tried an illicit substance was a staggering 21%. This is outrageous. In 2007, 15 and a half percent of 12th graders reported using a prescription medicine for non-medical reasons. Teenagers who have a family history of substance abuse or even use, low self-esteem issues, and are depressed are at special risk for substance abuse. Having adults who act positively towards drinking and other forms of substance use heavily affect whether their teen will use early on or at all.
Teenage Substance Abuse – Symptoms
There some very obvious symptoms involved in teenage substance abuse, and they are not limited to the ones listed below. These offer only a snapshot of some of the possibilities:
- School performance and attendence change suddenly
- Anger outbursts and destructive temper fits
- Withdrawal from social settings or a change in social groups
- Loss of interest in hobbies, goals, and pursuits
- Problems with attention and concentration
- Nervousness, anxiousness, and paranoia
- Secretivity and avoidance
- Grooming habits and physical appearance worsen
- Red eyes, dilated or constricted pupils, and wearing sunglasses constantly
- Strange financial habits such as running out of money or excessive borrowing
- Stealing items from home, school, or work
- Sudden emergence of clumsiness and miscoordination
Teenage Substance Abuse – Treatment
Teenage substance abuse treatment involves professional help, including substance abuse counselors and psychiatrists. Often times teenagers substance abuse is comorbid with personality issues and they eventually receive a dual diagnosis for a mental disorder. The substance use is a secondary symptom of the primary psychological problem. Treatment modalities will include detoxification, medication, and counseling. This will include behavior modification, cognitive behavioral therapy, possible residential treatment or outpatient treatment. There are also the options of boarding school and wilderness programs. In each of these options these teenagers will encounter a substance abuse counselor. That is why it is important to understand and master teenage substance abuse. The statistics are alarming, and we must arm ourselves with the skills to help the youth!