Despite reports on the rising number of incidents related to drug abuse, a lot of people would still turn to drugs as their means of recreation or their last resort to mask off their problems. What makes this very alarming is the fact that children way before pre-teen stage have already been exposed to such illicit drugs. At this very innocent stage in the life of children, they may view drugs as just another kind of “amusement” that can provide them with an “unusual high” as part of their normal lives.
This article aims to provide information and awareness to prevent the use of illegal drugs and to hopefully combat unnecessary exposure of children from these substances. Here are some of the most common questions about teen drug abuse, and answers to the frequently asked questions by teenagers regarding these substances.
What is drug abuse?
Drug abuse refers to the inappropriate consumption, ingestion or intake of prescription drugs or drugs that are found to have no legitimate medical purpose or benefit. It may also be referred to as a form of brain-altering condition wherein a user experiences various psychological issues that often lead to unfavorable results.
What factors influence teens to take drugs?
Children are taught in school about how they should avoid getting hooked on drugs, smoking and alcohol use. However, since children are naturally curious, they will always be curious to try on something new, and that includes trying drugs.
Apart from mere curiosity, peer pressure plays a very significant role. Teens want to “belong” or be part of a “cool group”. Unfortunately, not all groups may be good influences. As a result, some groups would persuade their new “recruits” to try drugs and force them to think that drugs are their best friends – as their means of escape from their problems.
Other factors that may trigger teenagers to use drugs include:
- Low self-worth
- Desire to enhance performance
How come some individuals get addicted to drugs and some don’t?
Drug addiction is a complex disease, which means that there are contributing factors that may lead one to become addicted. These factors may be because of genetics or because of the influence of the environment. Nevertheless, the likelihood of getting addicted to a particular drug or substance may vary from person to person.
What drugs do teens tend to abuse?
The most commonly abused substances among teens are alcohol and tobacco. They also tend to favor inhalation of fumes from household chemicals, pens and glues. Older teens, however, would often use marijuana, synthetic marijuana (known as Spice or K2), and other prescription and over-the-counter medication.
Which drugs can be very addictive?
The answer to this question is variable because the effect of drugs on each individual. The reason behind this is that several factors may come into play, such as genetics, age, dosage taken, length of time that the drug has been used, and frequency of use.
What are the dangers of inhalants?
There are various household products such as cleaning liquids and solutions, glue, lighter fluid, and aerosol sprays that are being inhaled by younger teens to obtain an alcohol-like high. Because these are readily available, younger teens have easier access to these substances, making them some of the common things that young people try to use.
Although the effects from inhaling these substances may be for just a short period of time, prolonged inhalation may cause severe reaction towards the body such as suffocation and heart failure. Long term use can also lead to liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, bone marrow damage and consequently, brain damage.
At what age does drug abuse become prevalent?
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2015, an estimated 119 million Americans aged 12 or older used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year, representing 44.5 percent of the population.
Meanwhile, About 97.5 million people used pain relievers (36.4 percent), 39.3 million used tranquilizers (14.7 percent), 17.2 million used stimulants (6.4 percent), and 18.6 million used sedatives (6.9 percent). In 2015, 18.9 million people aged 12 or older (7.1 percent) misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year.
If both parents were drug users prior to having a child, will the child be addicted to drugs?
The fact is, when a baby is born from a mother who is a drug user, the baby may be born addicted to the drug and may suffer withdrawal symptoms. But ultimately, children exposed to such substances in the home have a high risk of becoming addicts themselves.
What are the effects of drug addiction in the brain?
Habitual intake of illicit drugs can severely alter the brain’s function. This is because the effects of these substances either mimic or block the natural flow of neurotransmitters. Even when a user may have been relieved from its physical attachment to the drug, there would always come a time that a “healed” user may want to do drugs once again.
As a person takes an addictive substance, the limbic system releases dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical that make the user feel good. This encourages habitual substance abuse. To get hooked on drugs again after years of detoxification may be triggered by familiar situations which may have been the cause for addiction before.
What are “club drugs” or “party drugs”?
These are illicit drugs that have gained notoriety in clubs or rave parties. Some of the common party drugs include:
There are also other kinds of synthetic drugs sold as Ecstasy which may be more fatal than Ecstasy itself.
- Piperazines like BZP and TFMPP
- Mephedrone (mostly outside the US)
- bk-MDMA (methylene)
The popularity of party drugs stems from the euphoric feeling that it brings to the user. These drugs have a tendency to enhance the light feeling of people who frequent bars and night clubs. Unfortunately, these substances also pose serious health risks that range from nausea and dizziness to cardiac arrest and death.
What is Ecstasy?
This drug is known as an empathogen-entactogen, which means that it provides a feeling of empathy towards another person even if you have just met the person. Ecstasy is also commonly known as “Molly” in the club environment.
Ecstasy affects three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. When Molly is taken, the compound releases an enormous amount of these neurotransmitters and increases its activity.
What are the effects of Ecstasy use?
Drug users may claim that Ecstasy is good for their bodies because it helps them to carry a “happy” attitude. While this may be true for some users, Ecstasy use can also present the following effects:
- Greater enjoyment of dancing
- Distortions of perceptions, particularly light, music and touch
- Artificial feelings of empathy and emotional warmth
- Increased body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate
- Threat of dehydration
- Increased energy
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of fatigue when it would be normal
- Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- Muscle cramping
After the effect of Ecstasy wears off, what happens?
The effect of Ecstasy lasts between three to six hours. Unfavorable symptoms may be experienced such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Less interest in or pleasure from sex
- Problems sleeping
- Aggressive behavior
- Difficulty focusing
- Poor memory
- Drug cravings
Now that marijuana has been approved in some U.S. states, are teens free to use them like adults?
Despite the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, it is still prohibited under federal law to manufacture, possess, buy or use marijuana if you do not have the necessary permits. Only adults above 21 years of age are allowed to have an access from legitimate shops wherein they should also have to secure permits when they intend to use marijuana for recreational purposes.
How are drugs classified?
The Drug Enforcement Agency has categorized drugs into Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV and Schedule V. The drugs are scheduled depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential.
As the schedule number increases, it means that the drugs that are categorized under them are less dangerous and may have some medical use than the ones categorized before them.
What are the signs of substance abuse?
It is common among teens to go through certain issues during puberty. Along with these physical changes is their curiosity with so many things, which include the use of alcohol and drugs.
Parents are advised to talk to their children when they notice changes in behavior or appearance, including the following.
Changes in appearance: You may notice that your child pays less attention towards grooming. Other signs include loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss, red and glassy eyes and frequent use of eye drops or breath mints.
Changes in attitude: An attitude that is getting worse, disrespectful behavior and lack of concern about the future may be an indication of drug addiction or substance abuse.
Changes in behavior: Your child may be slowly staying away from family gatherings, performing poorly in school, developing a sneaky behavior, hanging out with new friends but reluctant to introduce them to the family, having loss of interest in other activities, lying, or stealing.
Is teen drug abuse treatment the same as adult treatment?
Adult treatment is not the same as teen treatment because adults usually have to deal with long term use and abuse. Having said that, parents should be able to look for an appropriate program for their teen kids wherein there should also be involvement of the family to speed up the process of the treatment.
There are underlying reasons why teens succumb to such predicament, and this should be the best way to come up with the proper solution to the teen drug abuse issue.
Can teen substance abuse be prevented?
Teens that are less exposed to alcohol, cigarette and drugs are less likely to use them when they become adults. It’s the responsibility of parents and family members to teach the dangers of using these substances.
When parents have time for their children, the children will feel that they are being given importance and that they feel very much loved. Establishing a good relationship with your children allows them to freely talk to you about anything, including drugs. This leads teenagers to become more guided and receive better advice to any kind of problem rather than resorting to friends who may influence them to get hooked on different vices.
When the family is able to support one another, this builds up confidence to teenagers, thereby making a huge impact on their personalities.
What is detoxification?
Detoxification is the process of taking drug components out of the body so that the individual may be able to function normally again. This is proven to be effective, but only if there is no permanent damage to the brain due to prolonged drug use.
The general process of detoxification is done by slowly limiting the amount of drug that the user takes. During this process, withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, sleeplessness and irritability may occur.
An effective detoxification process also includes giving counteractive drugs that will help eliminate the unfavorable withdrawal symptoms, which will then aid in completely getting rid of the illicit drug compounds from the system.
Detoxification is only part of drug abuse treatment, and is never designed to be the ultimate solution. After several weeks or months of treatment, the individual is recommended to undergo psychological therapy wherein self-confidence and love is being restored with the help of the individual’s loved ones.