It’s hard to admit it, but American teenagers often experiment with mood-altering substances. They may be curious about drugs and alcohol after hearing about them on television or in movies. Teenagers also sometimes try these things if they’re friends are doing it too – or if they feel they need some kind of escape. Regardless of why teenagers try alcohol and/or drugs, it’s imperative that both they and their parents know about the risks involved. Using illegal substances at an early age can lead to serious consequences, both to a teen’s body and their mind.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 39 percent of American teenagers have tried alcohol by the time they reach the 12th grade while over 25 percent of teenagers have tried illicit drugs. Of that 25 percent, over one-third reported smoking marijuana within the last year. After marijuana, the most popular drugs with teenagers are prescription medications, including Adderall and Vicodin.
Teenagers are especially at risk for health-related problems while on drugs and alcohol, as their brains are still developing. They may think that smoking marijuana or drinking beer is not harmful, or that nothing bad could happen to them while under the influence. But according to NIDA, students who smoke marijuana regularly have lower grades than their non-using peers. In addition, underage drinking leads to 190,000 emergency room visits every year.
Learning the Facts
Even more shocking is the fact that kids who don’t hear the facts about drug abuse from their parents are 50 percent more likely to use. It is vital that teenagers understand what alcohol and drugs (both prescription and illicit) can do to a person’s life, both physically, emotionally, mentally and legally. If they do not, or they ignore the information, it can be very easy for teenagers to become addicts and/or alcoholics. It is also important to note that many young people get drugs from their family’s medicine cabinet or alcohol from the wine cellar, therefore making it easier than ever for teenagers to get access to their drugs of choice.
Getting a teenager to openly admit they have a problem with drugs or alcohol can be extremely difficult, as they may be in denial or afraid of consequences. The root causes of their use may be easy to see or may not be so obvious – but finding the reason behind addiction is one of the best ways to help a person overcome their power. Teens are vulnerable and precaution must be taken.