Adolescents may be engaged in various forms with alcohol and legal or illegal drugs. It is common to experiment with alcohol and drugs during adolescence. Unfortunately, adolescents often do not see the relationship between their actions in the present and the consequences of tomorrow. They tend to feel indestructible and immune to the problems that others experience. The use of alcohol or tobacco at an early age increases the risk of using other drugs later. Some teens experience a little and stop using them or continue to use them occasionally without significant problems. Others will develop a dependency, then use more dangerous drugs and cause significant harm to themselves and possibly others.
Adolescence is the time to try new things. Adolescents use alcohol and other drugs for several reasons, including curiosity, to feel good, to reduce stress, to feel adults or to belong to a group. It is difficult to determine which of the adolescents will experiment and stop there, and which ones will develop serious problems. Teens who are at risk of developing serious problems with alcohol and drugs include those:
- with a family history of substance abuse
- who are depressed
- who feel little self-esteem or self-esteem
- they feel they do not belong and they are out of the ordinary
Adolescents abuse a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. The available legal drugs include alcoholic beverages, prescription medicines, inhalants (stickiness vapors, aerosols and solvents) and over-the-counter cough, flu, insomnia and weight-loss medicines. The most commonly used illegal drugs are marijuana (pot), stimulants (cocaine, “crack” and “speed”), LSD, PCP, opiate derivatives, heroin and designer drugs (ecstasy). The use of illegal drugs is increasing, especially among young people or adolescents. First the use of marijuana occurs in the middle school and the use of alcohol can begin before age 12. The use of marijuana and alcohol in high school has become commonplace.
The use of drugs and alcohol is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including the increased risk of serious drug use later in life, school failure, poor judgment that may expose adolescents to risk of accidents, violence, unplanned and risky sexual relations and suicide.
The main signs of teenagers’ use of alcohol and drug abuse may include:
- Physical : fatigue, sleep problems, continuous complaints about your health, red and dull eyes and a persistent cough.
- Emotional : changes in personality, rapid mood swings, irritability, irresponsible behavior, little self-love or self-esteem, lack of judgment, depression, withdrawal and a general lack of interest.
- Family : starting arguments, disobeying the rules, withdrawing or stop communicating with the family.
- In the School : decreasing interest, negative attitude, low grades, frequent absences, lack of duty and discipline problems.
- Social problems : friends or couples involved with drugs and alcohol, problems with the law and the dramatic change in dress and appearance.
Some of these warning signs may also be signs indicative of other emotional problems.When parents are concerned they should take the first step and consult with the adolescent’s family doctor. If the use / abuse of drugs or alcohol is suspected, then the adolescent should be given a comprehensive evaluation conducted by a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other trained mental health professional.
Parents can help their child by providing education at an early age about drugs and alcohol, establishing communication, being a positive role model and recognizing and dealing with problems that arise from the beginning.