Drug Abuse and Your Teen

Drug abuse has become so prevalent in the teen social scene that schools are participating in nationwide campaigns, starting in elementary schools, encouraging students to “Just Say No.” Although such awareness is valuable, the first line of defense between teens and drugs is the diligence of their parents. Drug abuse during the juvenile years is actually more harmful than use during the adult years because the brain is still growing and developing. Exposure to drugs and other addictive substances can hardwire it for greater susceptibility to future addiction.

What Causes Drug Addiction?

 Although genetics plays some role in the development of substance abuse addiction, it is mainly a product of other factors. Individual, family and social situations contribute highly to drug accessibility and abuse. Any drug that can be used by adults can also be abused by teens. It is helpful for parents to know what common options they are up against as they work to keep their teens safe.

  • Narcotics– Heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, vicodin and oxycontin
  • Hallucinogens– LSD, sometimes called “acid” and mushrooms, also called “shrooms or buttons”
  • Stimulants– Methamphetamine and Cocaine are also referred to as “bennies, speed, crack, rock, crystal, blow or uppers.”
  • Cold Medications– Over the counter cold medications, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and diphenhydramine (Bendaryl) can cause a “high” when taken in large quantities.
  • Inhalants– Inhaling the fumes from gasoline, ammonia or paint thinner is also referred to as “huffing.”
  • Depressants– Barbituates and benzodiazepine is also called “downers or roofies.”
  • Club Drugs– Ecstasy or “x”

What Do I Do Now?

Parents can help protect their teens from drug use by clearly communicating the multiple negative effects as well as their expectations when confronted with temptation. Studies have shown that parents who regularly connect with their teens about drugs and alcohol significantly reduce the level of abuse.

Knowing who your teen socializes with and where they are hanging out is also an effective deterrent. While teens need a certain amount of freedom to develop, this does not extend to complete social freedom. Drug use has been found to occur most often between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., or immediately after school. Know what your teen is doing during those times.  Parents can also help by limiting the options teens might have at home, such as locking up over-the-counter and prescription medications and keeping any cleaning solutions that might be inhaled in a secure place.

If you discover that your teen has acquired a drug addiction, you may feel overwhelmed. One of the first things to understand is that your teen has the best chance of overcoming his drug use with professional help. Even a well-meaning teen may have gone beyond simple willpower to keep drugs from negatively influencing his life. Teens who use drugs are statistically more likely to engage in sexual behavior, putting them at greater risk for pregnancy or STD’s. Also, drug use is often a cover or a mask for other emotional issues, such as depression or anxiety, which should be evaluated by professionals.

Liahona Academy is a residential treatment facility that specializes in helping teen boys overcome substance abuse. Through an individualized program and daily coaching from trained therapists and counselors, boys can turn their lives around and get back on the right path. Contact us for a free consultation at 1-800- 675-8101.

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