There are many symptoms of drug abuse, but some of the most common signs your teen is abusing drugs are:
* Problems with the law, such as DUI, breaking curfew, stealing, etc.
* Problems at school, such as excessive tardiness, poor grades, suspension, etc.
* Mood swings
* Loss of interest in favorite activities
* Drug paraphernalia
* Violent behavior
* Poor hygiene
* Missing money
Effects of Drug Abuse on Teens
Drug abuse at any age can cause serious health effects, but teens who abuse drugs are at particular risk for negative consequences. Teens who abuse drugs are more likely to struggle with addiction later in life and have permanent and irreversible brain damage. Some other common negative effects of teen drug abuse are:
* Emotional problems. Drug abuse can cause or mask emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia. In fact, among teens with major depression, 34.6 percent report using drugs. Unfortunately, drug use can also increase the severity of these emotional problems. For example, teens that use marijuana weekly double their risk of depression and anxiety.
* Behavioral problems. Teens who abuse drugs have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and violence. According to a recent survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, teens who abuse drugs are more likely than teens who don’t abuse drugs to engage in delinquent behaviors such as fighting and stealing.
* Addiction and dependence. Studies prove that the younger a person is when they begin using drugs the more likely they are to develop a substance abuse problem and relapse later in life.
* Risky sex. Teens that use drugs are five times more likely to have sex than teens who don’t use drugs. Teens that use drugs are also more likely to have unprotected sex and have sex with a stranger. This leads to higher risks of STDs, teen pregnancy and sexual assault.
* Learning problems. Drug abuse damages short-term and long-term memory and can lead to problems with learning and memory later in life.
* Diseases. Teens who abuse drugs with needles increase their risk of blood-borne diseases like HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis B and C.
* Brain damage. Drug abuse among teens can result in serious mental disorders or permanent, irreversible damage to the brain or nervous system. Brain damage among teens who abuse drugs includes brain shrinkage; impaired learning abilities; amnesia and memory problems; impaired reasoning, perception and intuition; increased or decreased socialization; and changes in sexual desire.
* Car accidents. Teenagers who abuse drugs are more likely to be involved in car accident-related injuries or death. One study showed that 4 to 14 percent of drivers who are injured or die in traffic accidents test positive for THC.
Teen Drug Treatment
If you know a teen who is abusing drugs, don’t wait to intervene. The sooner your teen gets help for drug abuse, the more likely they’ll be to avoid the long-lasting consequences. Fortunately, there are many different teen drug rehabs to choose from. The most effective teen drug rehab, however, may be a residential treatment program. Here your teen will have access to 24/7 supervision and care, detoxification, dual diagnosis treatment and a variety of holistic treatments based on their individual needs. Talk to a medical doctor about your teen’s symptoms and determine which type of drug abuse treatment is best for your teen.
There are various reasons why people experiment with drugs and continue to use them even when the negative consequences are visibly clear. Some the reasons include escaping reality, fitting in, relieving boredom, rebelling, and experimenting. Regular drug use leads to drug abuse and addiction, a cycle a drug abuser is unable to break even though they exhibit the will-power to reform. Although the first choice to take drugs is voluntary, the drugs contain chemicals that alter the working of the brain ensuring an addicted person is unable to exercise self-control and desist from taking drugs.
Drugs contain chemicals that interfere with the brain’s nervous system disrupting the way nerve cells send, receive, and process information. The drugs cause the disruption by either imitating the brain’s chemical messengers or by over-stimulating the production of neurotransmitters by the nerve cells. For example, drugs such as heroin and marijuana contain chemicals that have a similar structure as neurotransmitters. The similarity in structure allows the drugs to prevent brain receptors from producing neurotransmitters naturally activating nerve cells to send abnormal messages.
Hard drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, can cause nerve cells to overproduce natural neurotransmitter, or prevent the natural recycling of the brain chemicals. The excess neurotransmitters especially dopamine disrupts body functions such as motivation, movement, emotion, and feelings of pleasure. Consequently, the overstimulation of the brain reward system affects natural behavior linked to survival as well as euphoric responses to the drugs. As the drugs take hold in a person’s life, they may find it difficult to meet daily obligations such as keeping up job and school performance and neglecting family and social obligations. At this stage, the ability of the individual to stop the drug use is compromised. A user is said to be addicted and what started off as a voluntary choice turns into psychological and physical need.
Nonetheless, drug abuse is breakable with the right treatments and support. Disruptive effects can be counteracted to allow the addicted person to regain control of their life. The first step in breaking harmful drug abuse starts with the addicted individual admitting they have a problem, or are willing to listen to their loved ones who see and experience the negative effects of the drug abuse. In case, the person does not break the drug use; changes occur in the brain chemical circuits and systems. With long-term abuse, the brain attempts to compensate for the abnormal reward systems leading to impairing of the cognitive functions.