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Resources for Teens About Drug and Alcohol Abuse

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Teenagers today face a world that is far more complex than the one teens faced even 15 or 20 years ago. The pressure to use drugs and alcohol is ever-present, and today’s teens are exposed to substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual behaviors more than ever, due in part to the explosion of social media. Depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide are more prevalent than ever before. Today, parents face more challenges than past generations, including keeping track of who their children are talking to and monitoring which ideas are influencing them.

This article gives information about the challenges facing teens and how parents and teens can handle these issues as they arise.

Consequences of Teen Substance Abuse

teen using pills It begins harmlessly enough…simple curiosity. But for some, curiosity turns to recreation, which all too often turns into abuse, dependence, and addiction. The toxic influence of substances like alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs can have long-term effects by literally altering brain chemistry and, as a result, numerous complex developmental processes—potentially impacting personality, behavior, and cognitive abilities. Read More

Resources for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Teens don’t appear to be taking the risks involved with substance abuse as seriously as they should.Teens are introduced to drugs and alcohol primarily through their peer groups. Although the use of illicit drugs is at an all-time low, the perception of the seriousness of drug abuse, such as inhalants, marijuana, and ecstasy, is also lower than ever.1 Teens don’t appear to be taking the risks involved with substance abuse as seriously as they should. There are numerous resources available for parents and others who work with teenagers that can help increase their understanding of the key issues in drug and alcohol abuse, such as:

Getting Help for Mental and Behavioral Issues

Today’s climate of political unrest, family conflict, and other social issues, as well as the pressures of academic achievement, is taking a toll on the mental health of teenagers. In addition, teens face tremendous pressure from social media to attain high standards of physical appearance and online popularity. Furthermore, social media has led to an upswing in cyberbullying. The latest studies suggest that around 20% of all children have had a serious mental illness at some point in their lives.2 The following resources can help in battling these problems:

boy playing video games behavioral addiction concept

  • Behavioral addiction resources: There are other issues, known as behavioral addictions, that include porn addiction, sexual addiction, internet addiction, and gambling disorders. In addition, behavioral and discipline problems with teens are a topic of interest to many parents. The following articles give more information about these subjects:

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

people in group therapy session Treatment is often needed to address drug or alcohol addiction because, quite simply, it’s incredibly difficult to successfully quit on your own. Drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs are designed to help you escape a compulsive cycle of alcohol or drug abuse that represents a loss of control over your substance use. To these ends, treatment programs teach you how to function in everyday life without using your substance of choice. Read More

Finding the Best Option for Treatment

Left untreated, substance abuse, mental illnesses, and behavioral addictions tend to get worse. Drug addiction is a chronic, lifelong condition, but getting treatment helps. Yes, those who receive treatment do often relapse, however, relapse rates among those with a drug addiction are lower than for those following treatment protocols for asthma and high blood pressure.4

doctor talking with teen patient about substance use disorderWhile there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for substance use disorder and other mental health issues, there are databases of studies that show some kind of treatment is better than no treatment at all, and that some treatment approaches do seem to work better for certain types of mental issues.4

  • How to find treatment: Anyone who wants to find treatment for a loved one struggling with addiction likely has many questions, and these answers are a good starting point.
  • How addiction is assessed: The first step in any form of treatment is a thorough assessment to look at all aspects of a person’s mental and substance history.
  • Is detox needed? A common question facing anyone who wants to get off drugs is whether a detox program is needed. Not all types of substance abuse require a medically supervised detox before starting treatment, but it’s helpful to know if the person you love could benefit from it.
  • Treating alcohol addiction: Alcohol treatment is sometimes the sole focus of a substance abuse rehab program; additionally, alcohol abuse often co-occurs with addictions to other substances.
  • Treating cocaine addiction: Cocaine can be abused in many forms, including crack, which is smoked, or purer forms, which can be injected or snorted. Either way, it is highly addictive and should be treated properly.
  • Addiction in college students: College students are often vulnerable to substance abuse since it is usually the first time they are away from parental scrutiny and have a lot more freedom. For those college students who have already had issues with addiction and been through treatment, the need to stay away from drugs and alcohol is even more critical.
  • Addiction support programs: There are numerous programs that provide ongoing support for people in recovery, such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous).
  • Treatment of eating disorders and behavioral addictions. In addition to substance abuse treatment, eating disorders and many types of behavioral addictions, such as gambling addiction, internet and gaming addictions, and addictions to love and relationships can also be helped through treatment.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Monitoring the Future Survey: High school and Youth Trends.
  2. National Institute on Mental Health. (2010). Any Disorder Among Children.
  3. National Institute on Mental Health. (2010). Eating Disorders Among Children.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.
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Scot Thomas
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Thomas received his medical degree from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. During his medical studies, Dr. Thomas saw firsthand the multitude of lives impacted by struggles with substance abuse and addiction, motivating him to seek a clinical psychiatry preceptorship at the San Diego VA Hospital’s Inpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program. In his post-graduate clinical work, Dr. Thomas later applied the tenets he learned to help guide his therapeutic approach with many patients in need of substance treatment. In his current capacity as Senior Medical Editor for American Addiction Centers, Dr. Thomas, works to provide accurate, authoritative information to those seeking help for substance abuse and behavioral health issues.
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