National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) is held in March each year and is a national health awareness week that offers teenagers and young adults clinically researched facts about drugs, alcohol, and addiction. This is also a national health observance to “Shatter The Myths” about drugs. The following are facts about alcohol and drug abuse that can be shared with teenagers.

Marijuana is not a stress reliever but is used to self-medicate

“Research shows that some teens are using drugs to alleviate feelings of depression (‘self-medicating’), when in fact, using marijuana can compound the problem. The report shows a staggering two million teens felt depressed at some point during the past year, and depressed teens are more than twice as likely as non-depressed teens to have used marijuana during that same period. Depressed teens are also almost twice as likely to have used illicit drugs as non-depressed teens. They are also more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse or become dependent on marijuana. Marijuana use is associated with depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts.”

Reasons teenagers use drugs

Teenagers use and abuse drugs for many different reasons, including the desire for new experiences, to fit in with their peers or to cope with problems/stress. Adolescents are “biologically wired” to seek new experiences and take risks, as well as to carve out their own identity. Trying drugs may fulfill all of these normal developmental drives, but in an unhealthy way that can have severe long-term consequences.

Many factors influence whether an adolescent tries drugs, including the availability of drugs within the neighborhood, inherited genetic variability, one’s academic environment and whether the adolescent’s friends are using them. The family environment is also an essential factor to consider. Violence, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness or drug use in the household increases the likelihood an adolescent will use drugs.

However, even if you think you are doing everything right as a parent and are providing a safe and healthy environment, that does not automatically protect your child against experimenting with drugs or becoming addicted to drugs. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week can help make the difference by sharing educational facts with your teen.

Consequences associated with alcohol addiction in teenagers

Addiction is a psychological condition affecting the brain that is characterized by compulsive drug and alcohol-seeking behavior. Chronic drug and alcohol use changes the brain chemistry and communication systems by rewiring the reward and pleasure pathways in the brain creating more intense cravings for these illicit substances rather than natural rewards. Addiction results in compulsive and harmful behaviors that can affect every aspect of an individual’s life including their occupation, relationships, and home life.

The following are known consequences of alcohol addiction among teenagers.

• School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades
• Social issues, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities
• Legal issues, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk
• Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses
• Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity
• Disruption of healthy growth and sexual development
• Physical and sexual assault
• Higher risk for suicide and homicide
• Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, accidents, and drowning
• Memory problems
• Abuse of other drugs
• Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects
• Death from alcohol poisoning

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is Just the Beginning

Raising awareness of the consequences of drug use among teenagers can save lives. If you or someone you care about is abusing drugs or experiencing serious mental health problems, we can help. Reach out to us today to learn more about our treatment programs, including residential and virtual therapy options. Every day, we help teens recover and thrive.

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Source: National Institute of Health