Even though there is a steady decline in the use of many of these drugs among teens over the past few years, the issue still remains: why are so many teens turning to drugs?
Common Factors of Teen Drug Use
- A history in the family of substance abuse
- A history of experiencing traumatic events, including physical or mental abuse
- Issues with low self-esteem or poor social skills
- Relationships with peers who have access to drugs
- Academic pressure
- Weight loss
- A general belief that drug use is OK
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), “Nine out of 10 people who meet the clinical criteria for substance use disorders involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs began smoking, drinking or using other drugs before they turned 18.”
Data from the CASA has also shown that high stress teens “are twice as likely as low stress teens to smoke, drink, get drunk and use illegal drugs.”
The Popularity of Prescription Drugs
Whether it’s to get high, relieve anxiety, or strengthen their focus, teens are abusing Rx drugs.
According to the NIDA, “In 2010, almost 3,000 young adults died from prescription drug (mainly opioid) overdoses – more than died from overdoses of any other drug, including heroin and cocaine combined – and many more needed emergency treatment.”
Centers for Disease Control stated that nationwide, “20.7% of students had taken prescription drugs….without a doctor’s prescription one or more times during their life.”
A 2013 NIDA study shows that 31% of high school seniors have driven after marijuana use.
In 2014, out of 41,551 students surveyed from 377 public and private schools, around 44% of 12th graders, 35% of 10th graders, and 16% of 8th graders said they were using marijuana.
Many teens are under the impression that marijuana is safer than alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs. And since it’s used to treat cancers and other diseases, some think it’s even healthy or natural.
But what so many of these teens who are using marijuana on a regular basis aren’t anticipating are the very real side effects of long-term use:
- Memory loss and problems with concentration
- Increased aggression and anger
- Increased risk of psychosis
- Decreased motivation
- Increased risk of suicide
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP):
“Regular use of marijuana can lead to dependence, which causes users to have a very hard time stopping. When teens use marijuana regularly, they may crave marijuana and give up important activities to use marijuana. If they stop using, they may suffer from withdrawal symptoms which can include irritability, anxiety, and changes in mood, sleep, and appetite.
“Marijuana can also cause serious problems with learning, feelings, and health. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the active ingredient in marijuana. THC affects the brain's control of emotions, thinking, and coordination.”
The Dangers of Synthetic Drugs
“In the past four years, more than 300 synthetic designer drugs with names such as Spice, N-bombe and K2, have flooded into the United States.”
According to the article, these synthetic drugs are so powerful that “a dose the size of a few grains of salt can be enough to get high.”
Commonly referred to as “spice,” “K2,” and “fake weed,” these drugs often cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, fast heart rate, less blood flow to the heart, and even heart attacks.
The Bottom Line
It’s apparent that we need to do a better job at teaching our children just how dangerous these drugs can be, especially with how easily accessible they are within our public and private schools and college campuses.
Academic pressure, low self-esteem, or a means for more income should never drive our teens so far as to use or abuse harmful drugs.
- http://www.casacolumbia.org/download/file/fid/458 (PDF)