Teen Drug Abuse

Every day, thousands of young people experiment with illicit drugs. While many of them will never take their drug use beyond this “experimentation” level, far too many will continue to engage in this behavior until their drug abuse disrupts their lives.

Because teens are by definition too young to buy or drink alcohol, any illicit substance use is defined as drug abuse for a teenager.

The most popular drugs of abuse among teens include marijuana, prescription drugs and alcohol according to the National Drug Intelligence Center. Also on the list are over-the-counter drugs like certain cough syrups and medications that use pseudoephedrine as well as inhalants, especially among younger teens and adolescents.

No matter what the drug of choice, teens who fall victim to drug abuse risk everything in their lives: relationships with family members, their education, their future prospects, their social standing with peers and their self-esteem.

Parents who notice the changes in their teen’s life can step in and get serious with boundaries and limits, but if drug abuse has bloomed into drug addiction, the problem has morphed from a disciplinary issue to one that is medical in nature.

At any point along the way, teen drug addiction treatment is the appropriate response. Because there are so many different option in treatment – ranging from weekly drug counseling to full-time residential care – teens at any level of drug abuse or addiction can benefit from enrollment. If you would like to learn more about the options available to you or your teen, contact us at Newport Academy today to hear about the teen-specific treatment we provide here in Newport Beach, California.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs by Teens

Like everything that defines life as a teenager in America, trends dictate which drugs are in highest use. Different regional preferences and accessibility play a role in which drugs take precedence, as does the media and pop culture references.

Types of Drug Abuse and AddictionsCurrently, some of the most commonly abused drugs by teens include:

Don’t Ignore the Signs

It is absolutely not appropriate under any circumstances for parents to ignore drug addiction in their teen.

This is true for a number of reasons. Drug abuse is dangerous and deadly. Encouraging a repeat in the behavior – which ignoring the issue does – increases the teen’s risk of experiencing lifelong negative effects, including overdose and accident. Uncontrolled drug abuse can quickly turn into addiction as well and, if the choice to abuse drugs was done in an effort to garner the attention of parents and others in authority and that cry for help was ignored, other serious issues may go untreated and unaddressed.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of drug abuse can help parents to avoid being caught off guard when the use of substances begins to disrupt the life of their teen. Each drug causes different effects in the user, but according to Medline Plus, parents can look for the following signs as a tip-off that drug abuse may be the root cause:

  • New smells. Marijuana, alcohol and substances that create fumes for huffing are all very pungent. Parents who notice strong and unfamiliar smells in their homes, cars or on their teen’s possessions may be tipped off to drug abuse.
  • Changes in personality. If your teen’s mood alters significantly and quickly or if sudden and extreme mood changes are the new order of the day, it could be a normal sign of teenage hormones – or it could be a sign of drug abuse.
  • Changes in behavior. Secretive behavior, lying and angry outbursts that seem unprovoked may be signs that drugs are an issue.
  • Changes in interest. Suddenly losing interest in sports, hobbies and goals that once monopolized their thoughts and time can be a sign that something else has become a teen’s top priority – and if this happens at the same time as some of the other changes, this can potentially mean that drug abuse is an issue.
  • Changes in friends. Trading in old friends or suddenly hanging out with a new crowd that seems to have different values may signify that the teen is changing his or her interests and perspective – and that can include a new take on drug abuse and a willingness to take risks.

Stop Drug Abuse From Becoming Addiction

According to the US National Library of Medicine, about 15 percent of high school seniors have reported abuse of prescription drugs and 32 percent said that they abused marijuana during the year prior to the survey. Inhalants are a common drug of abuse among younger teens, according to the same source. It is important for parents to realize that the risk that their teen will abuse drugs during their high school years is high but that they have the power to help their teen get back on track when they take certain measures. These include:

  • Immediate Action. Parents who find that their teen is abusing drugs or alcohol must immediately address the situation in order to increase their chances of having a positive impact on the situation. Many parents tend toward leniency in the beginning only to find later that their original view that occasional drug use was harmless or that use under specific conditions was permissible ended up providing their teen with the opportunity for addiction to develop. The fact is that no amount of drug use or abuse is okay in any context. Parents should address the issue immediately, after first discussing the specifics with their parenting partner, and take steps to protect their teen.
  • Set Boundaries. Sitting down and discussing the issue of drug abuse directly is the best way to make boundaries clear. Choosing a time when the teen is lucid and when the parent is calm is important; making sure that boundaries make sense is also key. Parents should clearly outline the expectations going forward and the consequences if those expectations are not met. Offering the teen a chance to ask questions and discuss his or her feelings on drug abuse can help them and the parents to get a handle on what else may be driving the drug abuse so that can be addressed as well.
  • Follow Through With Consequences. If the teen continues to abuse drugs and alcohol despite clear boundaries, parents must follow through on the promised consequences. Avoiding punishments that are inconvenient or upsetting is a step backward.
  • Follow up With Treatment. If the teen continually breaks the rules despite open communication, clear boundaries and follow-through on consequences, treatment may be necessary. Counseling and outpatient care may be the first step if occasional drug abuse is an issue; however, if repeated drug abuse occurs or the teen makes dangerous choices while under the influence, a more comprehensive treatment choice may be more appropriate.

Does Your Teen Need Treatment

What Makes Teen Treatment Different?

Young people engage in drug use for different reasons than do adults, and as such, they need different treatment methods to help them break the cycle of addiction. Some of the root causes and co-occurring issues that are addressed in teen-specific drug rehab include:

  • Peer pressure. A young person’s social group plays an incredibly important role in the choices they make. Being involved with a circle of friends that experiments with drugs makes the individual much more likely to take part in that behavior themselves.
  • Self-image issues. The cause of many problems amongst teenagers, including drug addiction, alcohol addiction and eating disorders, coping with a poor sense of self can lead to escapist behavior that includes substance abuse.
  • Problems at home. Many teenagers turn to drugs as a means of escaping their problems at home. This is most common in families where there is physical abuse, sexual abuse or other forms of neglect and conflict.
  • Co-occurring disorders. Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and eating disorders are among the most common mental health disorders among teens that co-occur with drug abuse and addiction. These problems will need to be addressed at the same time that drug abuse is treated in order to achieve optimum success.

The Difference Between Outpatient and Residential Drug Treatment

Both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs are viable options for teens struggling with drug abuse. Because there is a spectrum of severity among those who live with the issue, both have positive merits for different patients.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), here are some of the ways that both types of treatment can help teens fighting drug abuse and addiction:

  • Relapse prevention. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment have measures in place to stop teens from abusing drugs. Outpatient programs offer random drug testing while inpatient care provides 24-hour supervision.
  • Personal counseling. Many teens use drugs and alcohol in an attempt to deal with underlying issues and trauma. During personal counseling, teens have the opportunity to explore those issues and begin healing on a deeper level that will improve every part of their lives as well as address the drug abuse issue.
  • Family therapy. Problems at home may be at the root of drug abuse issues for teens but they certainly become an issue when drugs and alcohol are a frequent problem. At a rehab center designed for teens specifically, family therapy is a part of the program and provides parents, guardians, siblings and addicted teens with a safe place to learn how to heal after past issues and face the future with the right communication tools and expectations.
  • Peer interaction. Group sessions happen at both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs and offer teens the chance to practice positive interactions while also showing them that they are not alone in their struggle against drug and alcohol abuse. At residential treatment, dorm living offers teens more opportunities to positively interact and bond with peers.
  • Aftercare. Both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment centers follow up with teens through a variety of aftercare services. These include but are not limited to 12-step meetings, ongoing family and personal therapies, and alternative treatments like yoga, acupuncture, nutritional counseling, workout training and more.

Learn More: Contact Newport Academy Today

Newport Academy provides both residential addiction treatment and outpatient care designed for teens. The staff is comprised of caring professionals – all of whom have devoted their lives to helping teens overcome addiction and enjoy long, healthy lives.

Contact Newport Academy today for more information.