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Author: Justin Mckibben
Part of being a parent is wondering what trouble your kids might get into. This is especially true as children become more independent as teens and young adults. Parents worry about how their kids are doing in school, if they are surrounding themselves with good influences and of course, if they’re doing drugs. It seems like there has never been a more appropriate time to be concerned about teenage substance abuse. Parents today are witness to the devastation and despair caused by the opioid epidemic. While teen drug use has always been an issue, it is more frightening than previous years with overdose deaths at such an alarming rate. What are the signs? How serious is teen drug abuse? Is your adolescent addicted to drugs?
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Teen Drug Abuse Stats
It is not that shocking that teen drug abuse is such a concern for parents. Substance use disorder currently affects more than 20 million people in the United States.
In 2015, more than 33,000 people in the United States died from accidental overdose. According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future College Students and Adults survey, young adults from 18-25 are the biggest abusers of:
The survey also shows young adults use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons more than any other age group. One report showed that nearly 44% of high school students admit to knowing a classmate who sells drugs. When ask what kind of drugs, students stated:
- 91%- Marijuana
- 24%- Prescription drugs
- 9%- Cocaine
- 7%- Ecstasy
Experts from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) state that while illicit substance abuse has shown some decline, prescription drug abuse has done more than enough to fill the void.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Those at Risk
If there is one thing we have learned without question from the opioid epidemic, it is that the old archaic mentality that substance use disorders were only experienced by people living troubled lives is anything but true.
Anyone and everyone are at risk. No race, nationality, social or economic background can exempt someone from the potential for addiction, even teenagers. It doesn’t matter if you grow up in a small town, a suburb or a bad part of town. It doesn’t matter if you are homeless or if you inherit a fortune, you still are eligible for addiction.
In a way, that reality makes the prospect of your teenager getting mixed up in drugs more frightening, because the old mentality of “don’t hang out with the wrong crowd” doesn’t really apply anymore. Any crowd and every crowd can get mixed up in this.
Truthfully, teens are exposed to substances in so many ways, but there are also a lot of ways to spot use and try to address it as early as possible.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Warning Signs
Knowing the warning signs of addiction can save lives, and ensuring it is addressed through every possible channel is key—even at a yearly doctor’s appointment. Many doctors are being trained to identify the signs of early drug abuse and ask questions about substance use disorders. When you are still wondering- is my teenager addicted to drugs- then you can try to look at signs such as:
- Mood swings
- Changes in grades
- Lack of interest in activities
- Trouble at school or work
- Changes in friends
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms, including shaking, seizures, personality changes
- Hiding drug use
- Using substances in private
According to mental health experts, some of these symptoms can also be signs of a mental health disorder. The best course of action when a parent begins to detect some of these signs would be to have a conversation with their teenager. Having a dialog can create opportunities for education, prevention and intervention.
Is My Teenager Addicted to Drugs: Helping VS Hurting
If your teenager is struggling with a substance use disorder there are a number of things you can do to help. There are also some things that parents institutionally do that can ultimately be harmful. Family members are always used to playing different roles, and often times parents want to be as supportive as possible. The important distinction family members all need to learn is the difference between helping and hurting.
As parents people typically lean toward one side or the other. They either want to be protective and enabling, or they chose to use ‘tough love’ to try and force their family members to get clean.
To learn more about how to handle the difficult emotions and situations parents and family members face with an addicted loved one, download our FREE e-book
“What is the Difference Between Helping and Hurting”
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It is important to be compassionate and supportive. It is also important to set boundaries with your addicted teenager. Understanding the self-destructive behaviors of individuals who struggle with addiction will help you to avoid enabling those risk patterns. This knowledge also helps parents and families members to be more constructive and caring when it really matters.
Addiction doesn’t just affect the person who is drinking or drugging, it affects all those that are close to that person. Emotionally, physically, financially, the toll can be significant. The Family Program at Palm Partners is designed to help parents, significant others and family members of addicts. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now!
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
According to large studies that focus on diseases, most people who have a diagnosable addiction problem tend to quit using drugs around their mid-20s and, without treatment. That may be due to the fact that, around your early to mid-20s is the period when the prefrontal cortex finally reaches maturity. This is the part of the brain that’s responsible for good judgment and self-restraint.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” And yet, that is not what these large epidemiological studies are showing.
For example, in a study of over 42,000 Americans in a sample designed to represent the adult population, by age 35, 50% of all people who, during their teens and 20s, qualified for a diagnosis of wither active alcoholism or drug addiction no longer do.
Therefore, if addiction truly was a progressive disease, the data would show that the odds of quitting drugs and alcohol get worse over time. What the studies show, instead, that as people get older, a higher and higher percentage end up in recovery.
‘The Clinician’s Error’
Why is it, then, that so many people still regard addiction as hopeless? One reason is a phenomenon known as “the clinician’s error,” which is so frequently reflected in articles and other such reporting on drug use and abuse. Journalists and rehabs tend to see only the extreme aspects of drug abuse and addiction. Those who can quit on their own you probably will and therefore go unknown to treatment programs and other sources of reporting and information.
Similarly, treatment providers get a skewed view of addiction and the nature of addicts: The people who keep coming back are not typical of drug addiction—they’re simply the ones who need the most help. Therefore, to base your concept of addiction only on the chronic relapsers is to create an overly pessimistic picture.
Addiction as a Developmental Disorder
One school of thought is to view addiction as a learning or developmental disorder, instead of the commonly touted disease model. If addiction really were a primary, chronic, progressive disease, natural recovery rates would not be so high and addiction rates wouldn’t peak so prevalently in young people.
If addiction is viewed as a developmental disorder, its association with age makes a great deal more sense. The most common years for full onset of addiction are 19 and 20, which coincides with late adolescence when the cortical development is not yet complete. In early adolescence, when the drug use that leads to addiction by the 20s typically begins, this is when the emotional systems that deal with love and sex are kicking in but before the cognitive systems that regulate risk-taking are fully active.
Therefore, excessive drug use at this time probably interferes with both biological/physiological and psychological development. Biologically-speaking, it’s the impact of the drugs on the developing circuitry, itself, that is brain structure and chemistry. Psychologically – and just as important – if, as a teen, you don’t learn healthy ways of coping with the inevitable ups and downs of life and relationships, you miss out on a critical period for doing so. If you turn to drug use as a way to self-soothe, known as self-medicating, then you are of course more likely to develop a substance use disorder.
On the other hand, if you learn healthy coping skills in adolescence, even heavy drug use later may not be as difficult to kick because you already have a frame of reference for healthy coping methods.
Can You “Grow Out” of Your Drug Addiction: Research and Data
Data supports the concept of addiction as a developmental issue: If you start drinking/using with peers before age 18, you have a 25% chance of becoming addicted but, if your use starts later, your odds drop to as low as 4%. Very few people without a prior history of addiction get hooked later in life, even if they are exposed to the harder, more powerful drugs like opiate painkillers.
How This Can Support Recovery
Merely focusing on clinical samples, those who go to treatment, excludes vital information from the picture as a whole. To better understand recovery as well as how to teach it, it’s important to look at how people who quit without treatment were able to do so – what strengths and tactics they used to accomplish this.
In many cases of successful recovery without treatment, commonalities include finding a new passion in sobriety – whether in work, hobbies, spirituality, religion or other area of life, adding structure to one’s environment (such as going from college-life to a more regimented one of 9 to 5 employment), and developing important life goals that are at odds with continuing heavy drinking and/or drug use. Another really important similarity that was found in the research is that people who recover without treatment tend not to self-identify as ‘addicts.’
There are many paths to recovery—and if we want to achieve long-lasting sobriety as well as help others to recover, we need to explore all of them. That means recognizing that recovery outside of treatment and conventional methods exists—and not dismissing data we don’t like or that doesn’t “fit” with what we’ve read or been told. If you are seeking recovery from substance abuse or addiction, call an Addiction Specialist today at toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We can answer your questions about treatment options and other ways to recover.
Author: Justin Mckibben
People believe weed is harmless right? Probably the most common cop-out response from anyone who has an argument about the effects of marijuana on an individual using it would be that it is ‘just a plant’. So is it a credited fact or just the popular belief that there are no real issues with marijuana? According to a research team focused on proving the potential harm of marijuana, it has come to light that for young people it may not be as safe as most assume it to be. In a new study published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry frequent marijuana use in adolescence could actually negatively impact teens as they grow into young adults.
So is this a legitimate concern? Some would say that judging by the numbers this study has accumulated that it most definitely needs to be looked into. Others would state that this study is taking the information and laying it out backwards in attempt to point the finger at pot-enthusiasts. Either way, more people should probably at least entertain the idea of the dangers of using marijuana could pose for young people.
In this recent study researchers came to several conclusions that suggest there is a accountable impact on young people who use marijuana at a young age. This research suggests adolescents who use marijuana daily:
- Are 18 times greater chance of marijuana dependence
- Are on average 8 times more likely to use other illicit drugs later in life
- 7 times more likely to attempt suicide, although the researchers did note that evidence was not sufficient to support a theory that there is a direct link between marijuana use and suicide.
- Adolescents who use marijuana daily are over 60% less likely to complete high school or obtain a degree compared to those who have never used marijuana.
Dr. Edmund Silins, the study’s lead author, was very confident in these claims, and stated,
“The results provide very strong evidence for a more direct relationship between adolescence cannabis use and later harm. The findings are particularly timely given the growing movement to decriminalize or legalize cannabis because this has raised the possibility the drug might become more accessible to young people.”
Setting the Tone of the Study
The team of Australian and New Zealand researchers conducted the large meta-analysis by combining individual-level data on up to 3,765 participants who used marijuana in order to learn more about the link between frequency of marijuana use in adolescence. In this study adolescence are defined as anyone under the age of 17 years old up to seven developmental outcomes ending at the age of 30 years old to determine how these teens would grow into young adult life. The study, which controlled for 53 potentially contributing elements including age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, other drug use, and mental illness, yielded clear and consistent associations between frequency of marijuana use and most of the seven developmental outcomes. The researchers focused on whether the teens studied had:
- completed high school
- obtained a college degree
- became dependent on marijuana
- had attempted suicide
- were diagnosed with depression
- used other illegal drugs
- became dependent on welfare
Dr. Silins also commented that,
“Our results provide strong evidence that the prevention or delay of cannabis use is likely to have broad health and social benefits. Efforts to reform cannabis legislation should be carefully assessed to ensure they reduce adolescent cannabis use and prevent potentially adverse effects on adolescent development.”
As determined by the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey conducted in the United States last year, approximately 7% of high school seniors are daily or almost daily marijuana users. So there is a very large population that should be taken into account as far as whether the claims made by this resent research should be taken seriously.
But some like Mason Tvert, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project, refused to take the study at face value. When reached for comment, Tvert was very opinionated about the claims made by Dr. Silins and the research team stating,
“The article expressly states that there remains no evidence that using marijuana causes depression, suicide or dropping out of school. It simply shows that teens who are prone to developing these problems are more likely to have used marijuana.”
So is it fair to say that the research is just creating a scare tactic out of information that cannot be placed solely on the shoulders of marijuana? Or could the blame be somewhat justified based on the averages determined through this survey?
Either way I believe it would be a fair assumption that weed should be placed under a magnifying glass and out of reach of children until there is more than enough knowledge available as to what it can do to adolescence. After all it should be the type of situation that is examined as ‘better safe than sorry’ as is with alcohol and cigarettes. Any substance probably has a fair amount of potential to leave a lasting impression on a young person, so it should be reserved for those who have had more of a chance to develop if it is decriminalized in any form.
Some people don’t believe in the idea of a gateway drug. Whether or not you think marijuana should be legalized or not, it is important to understand the impact drugs of any form can have on an adolescence and that addiction stems from abuse of any drug. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135