General of the subject

What is the use of substances in adolescence?

Many teenagers try alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Some teens try these substances only a few times and do not use them again. Others can not control their impulses or cravings for these substances. This is known as a substance use problem.

Teens can try a number of substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, household chemicals (inhalants), prescription and over-the-counter medications, and illegal drugs.Teenagers use alcohol more than any other substance. Marijuana is the illegal drug that teens consume most often.

Why do teenagers use drugs and alcohol?

Teens can use a substance for many reasons. They can do it because:

  • They want to fit in with their friends or in certain groups.
  • They like the way he makes them feel.
  • They think it makes them more adults.

Teens tend to try new things and take risks, so they can take drugs or drink alcohol because they find it exciting.

Teens who have family members with problems with alcohol or other drugs are more likely to have serious problems of substance use. In addition, adolescents who feel they are not connected to their parents or are valued by them are at greater risk. Adolescents with low self-esteem or emotional or mental health problems, such as depression , are also at greater risk.

What problems can cause the use of substances in adolescence?

The use of substances can cause serious problems, such as poor school performance, loss of friends, problems in the home and lasting legal problems. The use of alcohol and drugs is one of the leading causes of death or injury in adolescents related to car crashes, suicides, violence and drowning. The use of substances can increase the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV , due to unprotected sex. Even the sporadic use of alcohol by a teenager increases the risk of future problems with alcohol and drugs.

Even casual use of certain drugs can cause serious health problems, such as an overdose or brain damage. Nowadays, many illegal drugs are made in home laboratories, so their intensity can vary greatly. These drugs may also contain bacteria, dangerous chemicals, and other unsafe substances.

What are the signs of substance use?

It is important to watch for signs that your child may be using alcohol, drugs or other substances. Some of the signs include:

  • Red eyes and ailments, like feeling too tired. If your teenager often uses over-the-counter eye drops, he may be trying to disguise the redness of his eyes caused by smoking marijuana.
  • Loss of interest in school, low grades and failure to attend classes or school.
  • New friends who care little about their families or school activities.
  • Rags or papers soaked in chemicals, which may mean that your teen is inhaling vapors. Other signs of this are the presence of paint or other stains on clothing, on the hands or face of your teenager.

What should you do if you discover that your teen is using alcohol, tobacco or drugs?

If your teenager consumes alcohol, tobacco or drugs, take it seriously. One of the most important things you can do is talk openly with your teen about the problem.Insist on him doing the same. Try not to use harsh or accusing words. Give all possible support during this time.

In most cases, a hostile and angry face-to-face encounter takes your teen away from the family. If you do not know what to do or if you feel uncomfortable, ask a pediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist for help .

The type of treatment your teen needs depends on the level of substance use. For example, if your teen has tried drugs or alcohol only a few times, talking openly with him or her about the problem may be all you have to do. But if your teen has a substance use problem, then it has to be seen by a doctor, a counselor or both. If your teen is dependent on a drug or alcohol, you may have to do a detoxification treatment or a treatment that replaces the substance with medication. The medicines give better results if they are combined with personalized or familiar psychological counseling, or both.

Re-using substances, what is called relapse, is common after treatment. It is not a failure on the part of your teen or the treatment program. The recovery of a dependent state is difficult and takes time. Know that there may be setbacks that your teen will have to overcome step by step.

Can the use and abuse of substances in adolescence be prevented?

In order to help prevent the use of substances:

  • Talk with your child well in advance about what you expect from their behavior regarding alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. If your teen thinks you will allow him to use substances, he is more likely to try drugs or alcohol.
  • Keep your teen busy with meaningful activities, such as sports, church programs or other groups.
  • Wait for your teenager to follow the rules of the house. Establish reasonable consequences for the behavior that must change and cause the consequences to be met in a systematic way.
  • Continue talking with your teenager. Praise your teenager even for the little things he does well.
  • Get to know your son’s friends. Having friends who do not use cigarettes, alcohol or drugs may be the best way to protect your teen from substance use.

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