Teens and Drugs

Posted on July 25, 2012

In general teens use drugs to:

  • Feel good (sensation seeking)
  • Feel better (self-medication)
  • Make their life better
  • Escape

When teens are unhappy and can’t find a healthy outlet for their frustration or a trusted confidant, they may turn to chemicals for solace. When teens are given a chance to take something to make them feel better, many can’t resist.

Addictive drugs provide a shortcut; flooding the brain with dopamine. In time the natural capacity to produce dopamine in the reward system is reduced, while the need persists and the drug seems to be the only way to fulfill that need.

Alcohol and drug use provide instant gratification because they work quickly. The initial effects feel really good. Teenagers turn to drug use because they see it as a short-term shortcut to happiness.

What to Look for: DRUGS 101

Benzodiazepines (From the family medicine cabinet)

Benzodiazepines are among the primary pharmaceutical drugs abused. Abuse can interfere with thinking and memory, and may lead to depression.

Marijuana

Once dopamine starts flowing; a user feels the urge to smoke marijuana again, and then again, and then again and again. Effects begin immediately after the drug enters the brain and lasts from 1 to 3 hours. Look for:

  • Sudden personality changes
  • Mellow, “laid back” attitude
  • Poor motor coordination
  • New friends/acquaintances

Inhalants

A range of common household aerosol products have the potential to be misused. Nearly all of the products involved in inhalant abuse can be legally purchased by anyone, making the regulation of inhalants very difficult.

Short-term side effects of inhalant use include:

  • nausea
  • loss of inhibition
  • loss of appetite
  • slurred speech
  • seizures
  • vomiting
  • unconsciousness

In extreme cases, the irregular heart rate that can result from inhalant use can be fatal; this is known as sudden sniffing death syndrome.

Chronic inhalant abuse has long been linked to widespread brain damage and cognitive abnormalities that can range from mild impairment to severe dementia.

If you notice any of these signs or are concerned about your child’s behavior contact a professional experienced in adolescent treatment.

 

Written by: Rebecca Heger, LMHC, LCAC

Rebecca is licensed in mental health counseling as well as addiction treatment. She focuses on counseling for teenagers and help for young adults in Indianapolis. To contact Rebecca, call (317) 474-6448 x 111 or email Rebecca@groffandassociates.com.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==