Adolescence is a special time in every young man and woman’s life. With it comes issues of identity, social changes, hormones, sexuality, and the advent of drug use. It is often said that in adolescence one becomes the man/woman they will grow into. Being that drug addiction frequently starts during the adolescent period, it is therefore crucial to recognize and treat substance abuse at this age.
Adolescent Addiction & Treatment
There are many reasons why a young adult may begin using or abusing drugs and alcohol. The adolescent brain is underdeveloped and prone to impulsivity and irrational behavior. Many face significant identity crises as they try to “fit in” and be a part of a social group. Others succumb to the pressures of education, sports, etc. A prevalent factor throughout all adolescence is peer pressure and the desire to take part in illicit activities when others are doing it.
Adolescent Drug & Alcohol Use
As of December 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future survey reports that:
- By 8th grade,
- 11.7% use marijuana
- 9% use alcohol
- 5.3% use inhalants
- 3.3% use synthetic cannabis (e.g. “spice”)
- 2% use cough medicine
- 2% use pharmaceutical painkillers
- By 12th grade,
- 37.4% use alcohol
- 35.1% use marijuana
- 8.6% use prescription stimulants
- 8.1% use pharmaceutical painkillers
- 5.8% use synthetic cannabis
- 4.7% use tranquilizers (Xanax, Valium, etc.)
- 4.3% use sedatives (e.g. barbiturates)
- 4.1% use cough medicine
Adolescent Addiction Treatment
It is extremely important to begin addiction treatment during the adolescent stage, but it is often also the most difficult time to recover. Partying, drinking and using drugs are considered a normal part of growing up, and teens feel robbed of their adolescence if they spend it sober. It is also more difficult to have a social life, go through college, etc. when one is sober.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that adolescent drug abuse is particularly dangerous. There is a strong, direct correlation between the age at which drug use begins and the risk of becoming an addict. Drug and alcohol abuse at younger ages can also leave permanent mental and behavioral effects. The brain of a young adult is not wholly developed, and drug use halts or alters this development.
For these reasons, it is best for an adolescent to recover at a specialized treatment center. There, they will get sober with peers of the same age. Addiction treatment will comprise not only drug testing, therapy and medication, but also workshops that deal specifically with adolescent issues. Each young man and woman will find that, no matter what they believe, it is not impossible to attain sobriety while they are young.