Although preventative measures are taken in schools and communities, teenagers and young adults are still abusing drugs and drinking alcohol at an early age. The recent rise in adolescent alcohol and drug abuse has forced the issue back into the limelight as authorities realize that the problem has not diminished over the years.
Substances on the Rise
Surveys related to drug and alcohol abuse among young adults has shown results that are surprising. After years of seeing a gradual downward trend or a stalled rate of substance abuse, adolescents are starting to abuse drugs more. The rising trend in substance abuse has not impacted every type of drug, but it is impacting certain substances.
Adolescents are more likely to abuse the following drugs more than any others:
- Prescription Pain Relievers
The rise in substance abuse is primarily within those three categories.
Drugs that remain stable and have not seen an increased rate of abuse include:
- Over-the-counter medications
Budget Cuts in Prevention Methods
A major reason for the rise in drug and alcohol abuse among adolescents is the budget cuts throughout different areas of the country.
Teenagers are not as educated about the impact of drugs or alcohol on the body, so they do not feel that the behavior is dangerous.
The availability of drugs and alcohol impacts the rate of abuse. Certain substances are easy for teenagers to obtain and abuse without taking major risks with the authorities. Depending on the substance and the location, the ability to find the drug can vary.
Prescription painkillers are given to a large number of men, women and teenagers each year. The pain relievers are provided to help fight discomfort from injuries, accidents or illnesses that cause physical pain or discomfort.
Teenagers can easily take the drink or find those who are willing to purchase the alcohol and are old enough for the purchase.
The growing trend in certain substances is related to the ease of obtaining those drugs. When it is easy to find the drugs and it does not present a major risk, teenagers are more likely to try the substance.
Almost half of teenagers who abuse alcohol and have been drunk feel that it is not a great risk to health. Only about one third of teenagers think that drunkenness is bad. The large numbers of adolescents who feel that drunkenness is not risky suggest that teenagers have a false sense of security, safety and confidence when it relates to substance abuse.
The feeling that drugs or alcohol are safe might seem surprising, but adolescents do not assume the substance is more dangerous than the reality. Adolescents are more likely to assume that substance abuse is less risky due to that false feeling of confidence and security.
Still Developing Brains
They are likely to make riskier decisions and engage in dangerous behaviors without thinking it through because that area of the brain is still growing and developing.
Decision-making and problem-solving skills take time to fully develop.
In some cases, substance abuse is directly related to emotions and mental health.
When substance abuse is related to emotional or mental challenges, treatment is a necessity. Identifying emotions or mental health as the cause of substance abuse will ensure that teenagers are getting the right type of help and can move forward. Without addressing the emotional challenges or the mental health concerns, the cycle of substance abuse will continue.
Working for a Positive Future
The rise in substance abuse among adolescents is a disturbing trend. Although the reasons for the increased rates of drug or alcohol abuse are variable, common elements are found in many cases. The limited preventative measures, ease of finding the substance and the challenges of a body and mind that are still developing can make it hard to address the issue. Fortunately, understanding the causes will make it possible to start working on a realistic solution.