Unfortunately, there has been noticed a concerning rising trend of substance abuse among teens and young adults from all over the world. Adolescent substance abuse is rising and spreading today at faster rates than ever before. Regardless of the efforts of parents, communities, and schools in educating teens about the negative effects of substance use, young people are still abusing drugs and alcohol starting at early ages. Researches related to the use of alcohol and drugs among young people show that they are more likely to start using specific types of drugs. Alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, and prescription pain relievers are among the most common substances that adolescents are more likely to abuse. Here is an overview of the most common reasons that lead to adolescent substance use and a few solutions that could slow down the terrifying trend to spread.
An overview of substance abuse
Substance abuse can result in behavioral and health issues that can affect individuals, families, and communities. It is a vicious circle that drags into its negative effects more than just the user. There are several consequences that can affect everyone around the person who is using them. People who are addicted to substances such as drugs or alcohol experience extreme changes in their behavior and their health, which reflects on all the people that they interact with. From a small scale, the users are becoming agitated, nervous, violent as they can no longer think clearly which can affect their family members and friends. Also, from the point of view of the problem on a large scale, substance abuse is strongly linked with crime. The whole community could be affected as it can become an issue of public health and safety.
Teen drug experimentation
Unfortunately, most of the users who have developed an addiction to alcohol or drugs report that they have started using substances under the age of 21. Teenage years are the period of time when young people are more likely to start using substances as experimentation. They are tempted to experiment for various reasons. From curiosity, peer pressure to stress and emotional struggles, young people have their first contact with drugs and alcohol before they turn the age of 21. Fortunately, not all adolescents develop an addiction after experimenting with substances. The ones who only do it out of curiosity to see how it makes them feel are less likely to develop an addiction. Yet, the ones who start using drugs or alcohol because they are influenced to do so by their friends or the ones who are trying to escape from emotional struggles are more likely to develop their experiment into an addiction.
Common risk factors
The most common risk factors that lead to adolescent substance abuse are linked to a combination of social, environmental, and biological factors that contribute to it.
Abuse is a major factor that leads to the development of substance use and addiction. Young adults who are struggling with emotional and mental trauma start using alcohol and drugs. They do it to escape from the real world that has a negative influence on their wellbeing and to numb their emotional pain. Sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional and psychological abuse are highly correlated with the rising trend of adolescent substance abuse.
Social problems such as bullying, negative peer influences, and gang affiliation are other risk factors that influence young people in trying substances and eventually develop an addiction. Bullying victims are experiencing numerous emotional and physical traumas that make them more likely to use substances to deal better with their negative thought or feelings. Also, teens’ friends are extremely important in adolescence. Associating with negative peer groups is a substantial risk factor associated with adolescent substance abuse.
Family problems are also one of the most common factors of risk of adolescence substance use. The parents are the most important role models for any child and teenager. Parental substance abuse, permissive attitudes towards drugs and alcohol, and lack of supervision are increasing the risk for young people to engage in substance use.
The role of the internet in substance abuse
There is no surprise that today’s technology is linked to the rising trend of substance abuse among teens and young adults. Nowadays, we live in the era of connectivity when we all use the internet for socialization, learning, and entertainment. Therefore, the internet continues to be the primary source of information for numerous young people. While the internet is perceived as a positive thing as it contains millions of knowledge about any subject, it can also have a negative influence if the people who use it do not filter the information. Nowadays, teens can easily find information about drugs and alcohol within seconds. Trouble is that the information they can find does not always present the negative perception about substance abuse. Which means that they are sometimes deceived in believing that using drugs and alcohol is a cool trend they should try and follow. Also, the internet has also created a portal for young adults to get in touch easier with people from whom they can purchase substances. Social Media platforms are also extremely influential on young people in many ways. On Social Media platforms, teens and young adults have the opportunity to see information about substances and even photos or posts of their friends who use them presenting them as a fun activity. This is deceiving them into believing that if their friends are doing it, they should also do it.
Recognizing warning signs and finding solutions
Substance abuse is a concerning topic. Every parent, guardian, friend or family member of a teen should pay attention to the warning signs. The first thing to do is to ask the person straight whether they are or not using any type of substances. Pay particular attention to signs such as extreme mood swings, lack of interest in things that used to be important, and a sudden shift in social activities or groups. Addiction to alcohol is the most common substance addiction among young people. parents of teens who are addicted to alcohol should immediately help their child to get specialized treatment for alcohol detox such as the one from help4addiction.co.uk. Also, they should support and help their child during the recovery process instead of focusing on punishment or anger.