Why Prevention Matters for Teens
Preventing teenagers from abusing drugs and alcohol means getting them through a vulnerable time in their life.
Research has shown that people are more likely to develop an addiction if they start abusing drugs at a young age.
The goal of prevention is often just postponing that first drink until the teen’s brain has developed enough to enable responsible decision-making skills. If you think a teen you care about is abusing drugs, reach out to a recovery professional for rehab options today.
Negative Consequences of Teen Substance Abuse
It’s important not to downplay teenage drinking or drug abuse. Some may “grow out” of this behavior, but even those who do are subject to negative consequences of drug abuse that may be long-lasting. These include:
- Mental health problems (including depression and anxiety)
- Strained or broken relationships with friends and family
- Physical health problems
- Academic problems and suspensions
- Ending up in the juvenile justice system
Teens Who May Be at Risk
Statistically, some teenagers may be at a higher risk of developing a substance abuse problem. Recognizing who may be at risk could provide important preventive help for teens who need it most. Common risk factors include teens who:
Are in periods of transition
Going from elementary to middle or middle to high school means teens are often introduced to new pressures and influences. Younger teens may be encouraged to do drugs to fit in with the older crowds, and new social circles could introduce teens who are already using drugs.
Suffer from mental health disorders
Depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns can manifest in children at a young age. In many cases, those who face these issues are more likely to have a substance abuse problem.
Don’t have positive adult influences
Teens who come from broken or abusive homes are rarely aware of the consequences of drug abuse. Additionally, teens who grew up around family or caretakers who abused drugs are far more likely to continue the cycle of abuse in their own lives.
Success of Prevention Methods for Teenagers
Government agencies, community leaders and school officials are always on the lookout for new ways to prevent teenage substance abuse. Although it is still a problem nationwide, rates of substance abuse among teens have gone down over the past decade. This suggests that the preventive measures being taken are effective at reducing, if not getting rid of, the problem. The two biggest things that officials say impact teen drug use prevention are education and parental involvement.
Educating Teens on Drug and Alcohol Risks
The teenage brain is in a state of rapid development, which can lead to erratic behavior. Research suggests the human brain isn’t completely mature until 25 years old, and the most dramatic changes in growth happen during adolescence. Because of this, teens aren’t always mentally equipped to make the best decisions about their health and future.
Educating young people on the potential risks of abusing drugs and alcohol can enable them to make better choices.
Some of the education programs currently in use are designed as three separate segments to target different types of students. These segments are: