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Adolescent and Teenage Substance Abuse

Drug addiction among teens and adolescents has become a public health concern. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 2.2 million adolescents in the United States (approximately 8.9 percent of the overall adolescent population) were involved in some type of drug or alcohol abuse in 2003. In that same year, as many as 156,000 adolescents underwent rehabilitation for substance abuse.

As an adolescent, you most likely want to explore and try something new to satisfy your curiosity. This is a normal part of growing up. However, keep in mind that you need to take responsibility for your actions. Drug addiction is surely a scenario you don’t want to be in. It can lead you to lose the future you and your parents are hoping for and, even worse, to suffer from seriously dangerous consequences. However, if you unfortunately fall into drug addiction, help is just a call away. Feel free to give us a call at any time of the day so we can refer you to a reliable teen drug addiction treatment center.

Types of Drugs Teens Abuse

Teen drug addiction is increasing day by day and not showing any sign of slowing down. Because gaining access to alcohol can sometimes be difficult for teens, they often resort to different types of drugs. Here are a few drugs to which teens may have easy access:

  • Marijuana
  • Inhalants
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Prescription drugs
  • Tobacco
  • Depressants
  • Cold medications
  • Stimulants

Ease of access varies from one drug to another, but the potential for abuse is ever present.

How Do Teens Get Drugs?

Contrary to what parents believe, teens are using drugs  because of the ease of access that they have to them. For example, at school, teens obtain drugs from parties, friends and even teen sellers. Teens are also versatile when it comes to concealing their possession of drugs. One scheme they use is inserting pills, such as Ecstasy, into tootsie rolls. Another strategy is placing the drugs inside children’s vitamin bottles.

Teens avail themselves easily of prescription drugs and at times prefer them over recreational drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. With a credit or debit card, teens can easily purchase prescription drugs online because some sites require no identification or prescription. That’s how accessible  drugs can be to teenagers nowadays.

Side Effects of Common Drugs

Drug and alcohol addicted teenage girls lying on the floor with alcohol glass on handsThe type of side effects  teens experience from using drugs depends on the specific drug in question. Some drugs can have varying effects on the user. However, several drugs cause similar effects, such as the following:

  • Promiscuity
  • Reduced concentration
  • Tolerance
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular failure
  • Liver and kidney failure
  • Insomnia

Warning Signs of Drug Addiction

Teens caught up in drug addiction normally show signs of a problem, including the following:

  • Absenteeism
  • Poor performance, or sudden plummeting of grades, at school
  • Hanging out with newly found friends instead of old friends
  • Doing away with activities previously enjoyed
  • Getting into trouble
  • Possession of equipment for drug use
  • Questionable source of income
  • Memory problems and indistinct speech
  • Dilated pupils, excessive weight loss and bloodshot eyes

Admitting that someone in the family (in this case a teen family member) abuses a drug is somewhat difficult. Likewise, family members may find it even harder to acknowledge that they have been affected by the member’s addiction. Sometimes, their actions show they are covering up the addiction instead of facing it head on. In such a case, both the patient and the other family members need some form of therapy to help them transition back to normal life. Give us a call at so we can give you expert advice on how to overcome drug addiction.

Addiction Treatment Approaches for Teens and Adolescents

Treatment approaches for adolescents and adults differ invariably. Successful implementation of adolescent addiction treatment requires applying it based on the specific needs of this portion of the population. Current treatment methods involve various formats and varying lengths of time. Typically, the first part of treatment entails assessing the teen’s habits and other relevant factors by a trained professional. Thereafter, the patient undergoes any of the five treatment phases, according to criteria specified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. The five levels are as follows:

  • Brief intervention services.
  • Outpatient treatment, where teens attend treatment for six hours per week or less.
  • Rigorous outpatient treatment, where teens get treatment during the day for up to 20 hours per week but stay at home during the night. This can take from two months to one year.
  • Residential treatment, from one month to one year.
  • Rigorous inpatient treatment managed by a professional. This is appropriate for teens with very serious biomedical substance use and emotional problems that require 24-hour medical care.

Most inpatient and outpatient adolescent programs utilize a combination of therapeutic approaches within their treatment protocols. What follows are the most commonly used of these approaches:

  • Family-based therapy: This approach aims to address family risk factors affecting the teen’s drug use, such as poor communication, lack of unity and other issues. It is based on the principle that the family can have a huge influence on a teen’s development and recovery.
  • Multiracial student group sitting outdoors and talking about drugs and alcoholGroup and individual therapy: While individual therapy involves a therapist and a patient, group therapy involves a therapist and a group of people. The two therapy approaches can work hand in hand toward helping an adolescent move past the addiction. The most commonly used approaches within group and individual therapy include brief intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy, and contingency management reinforcement.
  • Twelve-step programs: These programs comprise a self-help methodology in which recovering patients support each other through encouragement toward completing the 12 steps. Many outpatient and inpatient programs incorporate these programs in their treatment framework.
  • Therapeutic community: This treatment method is holistic in its approach. It views the community as an important catalyst for change and can help promote behavioral changes and healthy lifestyles. For adolescents, a therapeutic community encompasses family therapy, individual counseling, 12-step strategies and more.
  • Pharmacotherapy: As the name suggests, pharmacotherapy involves the use of medication to treat an addiction and aims to address such issues as evasive therapy, craving reduction, and treatment of existing psychiatric problems.

If you are considering or actively seeking treatment for your drug addiction, look for a treatment center that applies the above practices and protocols for rehabilitation. For more information on adolescent and teen drug addiction, call our helpline at at any time.

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