It can often be difficult for individuals who have never used drug substances to understand why others would ever choose to use these substances, especially if they appear to be generally happy, healthy, and well cared for. The truth is that while the specific reasons for why an individual chooses to use drugs can vary widely, the one common factor most drug use begins with is the individual’s desire to cope with or “handle” some problem they have encountered in their life. For teenagers, this problem can be as simple as curiosity. This means that most teenagers have wrong or missing information about what drugs are or what they do in the body. It also usually means that they are mimicking others around them and that they are definitely not aware of how their actions could potentially cause them to become a drug abuser or addict.
How Teen Drug Use Becomes Teen Drug Abuse
There is no way to be absolutely certain whether a teenager’s initial drug use will lead to further drug use or whether it will be their only drug use. There are certainly some drug substances that are more potent and addictive than others, and therefore, have a greater potential to lead to drug abuse and addiction problems. The fact that a teenager’s brain is more greatly affected than an adult’s brain by the chemicals in drugs can increase their chances of suffering from the various dangers and effects of drug abuse and addiction.
When a teenager uses drugs for the first time, depending upon the drug and the quantity that is ingested, they may feel some form of relief, relaxation, happiness or euphoria. These sensations are often quickly followed by less desirable ones, including headaches, drowsiness, nausea, dehydration, exhaustion, and more. If the individual determines that the desirable sensations were worth the undesirable sensations, they are often driven to continue their drug use. Since drugs are chemical substances that actually affect the normal functioning and patterns of their brain and body, long-term drug use and abuse can eventually lead to serious consequences, such as poor academic performance, health issues, relationship problems, legal problems, and more. It is not unusual for them to socialize with other teenagers who abuse drug substances and to make irrational decisions that put their own and others’ lives at risk–such as driving while intoxicated or participating in unprotected sex.
Another major concern in regards to teenagers abusing drugs is the fact that drugs can interrupt normal, healthy brain development, memory, and the ability to respond well to stressful situations. A teenager’s developing brain is also more susceptible than an adult’s fully developed brain to drug dependence, wherein the brain not only becomes used to the presence of drug substances but actually comes to depend upon them in order to continue functioning “normally.”
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse performed a study in 2011 that found that a shocking ninety percent of those individuals who suffer from some form of substance abuse disorder had begun to use drug substances prior to the age of eighteen.
Preventing and Resolving Teenage Drug Abuse
The most effective way to resolve teenage drug abuse is to prevent it from occurring in the first place and the most effective way to prevent teenage drug abuse from occurring is to educate teenagers on the truth about drugs and their effects. Curiosity may drive teenagers to test out those things they don’t understand, but with factual information about what drugs actually are and exactly how they interact with and affect the body, they are usually able to make the wise decision and abstain from drug use.