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“Drug and alcohol abuse, even though it is at an all time low, is still a problem among teenagers. According to preventteendruguse.org, “Substance use poses serious negative health consequences for all age groups. The developing brains of kids are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol and other drug use, which can lead to lifelong problems.” A personal experience of drug and alcohol abuse would be in the life of a young female named Savannah, who started her addiction at the age of ten, and ending it six long, grueling years later.
Teenagers around the world today, are becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, at the worst both. They are risking their futures by even considering the thought of trying such harmful substances and should be educated about the risks of doing drugs and drinking alcohol. The main questions when it comes to this topic are, how do drugs and alcohol affect a teenager’s social life, how does it affect their health, should addiction be talked about by parents, why do teenagers get into drug and alcohol abuse, and what are ways to help prevent teens from abusing drugs and alcohol?
How it works
The use of drugs and alcohol in the life of a teenager can put their social and academic life at risk. A student that has been under the influence of drugs and alcohol has a higher risk of dropping out of high school or college. According to a study that was performed, most students that take part in substance use tend to skip class just to do drugs and drink, which then leads them to dropping out of school. Not only do drugs and alcohol cause higher dropout rates, but they also cause a chance of lower academic achievement. According to Dr. Ginny Schwartz, a coordinator of Academic Support, when one gets intoxicated, it has negative effects on concentration, memory, and attention, for forty-eight hours. This indicates that if one is to be under the influence on a Friday before finals the following week, their studying on Saturday and Sunday will be put a risk. Alcohol, is a negative factor in seeing that if a student is to drink, their “blood alcohol levels the next day, affecting whether or not they even get up for class and, if they do, the quality of how information is processed and stored.” Drug and alcohol abuse is also the main reason why teens later have a lifelong struggle with addiction.
There is a true story of a young girl named Savannah that depicts how she got addicted to drugs and alcohol at the age of ten. Her parents were addicts and her mother was the reason as to why her addiction began. Her life was in a constant rollercoaster from the moment this began. She lived with her mother and sister, and after the police found her, she was taken to her father where her life only got worse. One moment in her life, after being taken in by her grandparents, describes that she snuck out and got extremely high. The next morning, she woke up in a park and went to the bathroom, seeing her reflection. This is what she said, “That’s when I saw my reflection in the mirror and nearly jumped out of my skin. My eyes were sunken in, I was black and blue , I had cuts all over…I didn’t recognize myself.” Her life went on from there, she was picked up by the police, and taken to rehab. It took her a year before she finally admitted that she was an addict and that was because she had people there to support her, maybe you won’t be so lucky. Overall, the use of drugs and alcohol has, in fact, paved the way to a difficult life, seeing that it is complicated to stay on track of school and your life while being addicted.
Drugs and alcohol not only affect a teen’s personal life, but can also cause them to start living an unhealthy life as an addict. Drug and alcohol use have a largely negative psychological effect on the teenage brain. When a teen is under the influence of drugs, the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine which causes high waves of pleasure to be spread throughout the body. Once a teen begins doing this, they will slowly start to loose pleasurable feelings in other activities such as eating and relationships, because pf this, a teen is more likely to become addicted. Another factor of drug and alcohol abuse is a dramatic change in a teenager’s personality. Some main signs of drug use are, spending time with questionable friends, falling grades, not as social, not as happy; moodier, sudden weight changes, constant use of credit cards, and money or possessions suddenly go missing. The teen’s body is also a large victim of these substances being abused.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), long-term drug abuse can affect: the kidneys, the liver, the heart, and the lungs. In addition to the numerous mental health issues that spring up as a result of long-term drug addiction, there are also a number of issues affecting the physical health of the individual who is abusing drugs over a sustained period of time. This puts the individual at an elevated risk for overdose and even death. In summary, drug and alcohol usage can not only gravely affect a teen’s life but their health as well, for if their addiction is in tact for too long, death is imminent.
Some may wonder whether parents should talk to their teens about addiction before their teen years, the answer is yes. Parents that talk to their child about this topic help their teen stay away from drugs and alcohol more than parents that don’t talk about it. When parents do not talk to their child about alcohol and drugs, still sends them a message on the subject. Children do not always have the correct information about drugs and alcohol, therefore, parents should talk about the use of these harmful substances to their children to prevent the possibility of these substances being used. Therefore, it is better to talk before children are exposed to drugs and alcohol. When children are talked to, honestly and directly, when it comes to drugs and alcohol, they are more likely to respect the guidelines given. Parents have a strong influence in their child’s life when it comes to the choice of experimenting with drugs and alcohol. A parent’s relationship with their child is the most important part of a child’s adolescent life and when parents hold a nurturing environment for their child, which is how children start worry more about their parent’s concerns when it comes to drugs and alcohol. In conclusion, drug and alcohol addiction should indeed be talked about before it is too late to help the child.
There are multiple reasons as to why teenagers seek relief in drugs and alcohol. Those reasons spanning from social, to health reasons. One reason, is the influence of those in the teen’s life. Adolescents see lots of people consuming different substances. They see drinking alcohol from their parents and other adults, smoking cigarettes, and sometimes trying other substances. Also, the social scene of a teenager often revolves around marijuana drinking and smoking. Sometimes friends urge each other to have a drink or smoke pot, but it’s just as common for adolescents to start trying a substance as it’s readily available and they see all their friends enjoy it. They see drug use as part of the normal adolescent experience in their minds. Secondly, teens do drugs out of complete boredom. Teens who can not tolerate being alone are prime candidates for substance use, having trouble keeping themselves busy or wanting excitement.
Not only do they get something to do with alcohol and marijuana, but these substances help fill the inner void they feel. They also provide a common ground for interacting with like – minded teens, a way to bond with a group of children instantly. Lastly, the teen could be going through a lot and had decided to escape their problems through self medication. Some adolescents abuse prescription medicine, for example, to manage stress or regulate their lives. Others abuse prescription pain relievers and soothesizers to cope with academic, social or emotional stress. Sometimes they abuse prescription stimulants (used to treat hyperactivity disorder with attention deficit) to provide additional energy and the ability to focus when studying or testing. As a conclusion, teens should talk to their parents whenever they are having trouble so they can prevent themselves from becoming addicted.
Another commonly asked question, is how can we help prevent teens from drinking using drugs? There are multiple ways, but the three most affective will be named. First off, parents should discuss reasons why drugs should not be used. “Scare tactics should be avoided. Emphasize how drug use can affect the things that are important to your teen — such as sports, driving, health and appearance.” Another thing to do is to establish certain rules and consequences. “Explain your family rules, such as leaving a party where drug use occurs and not riding in a car with a driver who’s been using drugs. If your teen breaks the rules, consistently enforce consequences.” Lastly, be ready to discuss your own experience with drugs in your past. “Think about how you’ll respond if your teen asks about your own drug use. If you chose not to use drugs, explain why. If you did use drugs, share what the experience taught you.” In conclusion, parents should take responsibility in teaching their children about these topics so they can be protected and have a better future.
Even though, as previously claimed, drugs and alcohol are bad, they can also be good in many ways. “If you’re a light to moderate drinker,” according to the Mayo clinic staff, “and you’re healthy, you can probably continue as long as you do so responsibly.” Another positive factor of drinking, according to the Mayo clinic staff, alcohol reduces the chance of developing, and dying from, heart disease. The positives of drugs, according to multiple self medicating teenagers, it makes them happier and helps them forget about their troubles at home and school. However, addiction is very common after just a sip or try. Alcohol and drugs should not be tampered with for there is a higher risk of a teen becoming addicted rather than an adult, the health issues are also very serious to the developing brain of a child and should be protected instead of exploited.
Drugs and alcohol are very dangerous and should be talked about before a teen is exposed to these substances in a negative manner. Parents should take the time to explain to their child why they should stay away from such harmful behavior. Teenagers, before you accept the offer of trying drugs, or any other substance, you should think of the future consequences such attempts could bring you. Expulsion, lower grades, depression, and worst of all, addiction. Drugs and alcohol should not be messed with and if you were raised knowing that, do you really know the harm of such substances?
In closing, teens, stay away from drugs and alcohol no matter what you are going through. Go to your parents and talk with them. Parents, be ready for any questions or concerns your teen has about this topic , do not push them away or give them short answers with no meaning. Addiction should be talked about for if it is talked about, avoiding it and it’s risks are far simpler.”
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