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Teen Drug Abuse and its Effects on the Brain

Teen Drug Abuse and its Effects on the Brain - The Bergand Group

It is common for teens and adolescents to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Whether it is due to social pressure or curiosity, about one in every four high school teens will drink and about one in every sixteen high school teens will use marijuana. Due to their “it won’t happen to me” attitudes, many teens get involved in dangerous and illegal activities. Getting in trouble with the law and doing damage to their bodies can be the side effects of this risky behavior.

Some teens have the power to stop using drugs and alcohol and see it as a passing phase, but teen drug abuse can become an endless cycle. Teens at risk for becoming addicts include those:

  • with a family history of substance use disorders
  • who are depressed
  • who have low self-esteem, and
  • who feel like they don’t fit in or are out of the mainstream

Teen drug abuse often begins because using can elicit feelings of self-worth. When high or drunk, teens feel happy, like they can do anything or talk to anyone, and this may differ from how they feel while they are sober. Many times using is a way to escape from reality – which may include depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

When teens are using drugs and alcohol they make poor decisions. These can include teen pregnancy, unsafe sex, failing classes, becoming antisocial, and even suicide. As a parent, it is extremely important that you discuss these issues with your teens. Open communication and being a good role model are just some of the many ways you can support your teen during this time in their life.

Drugs and alcohol don’t just affect their social life. Consistent use of these can hinder their brain development as well. According to the SAMA Foundation, “They are undergoing an important yet challenging developmental stage in which that are prone to errors of judgment, and sensitive to neurological assault by psychoactive substances. More than any other age group adolescents are at risk for substance addiction, and more than any other age group they risk permanent intellectual and emotional damage due to the effects of drugs.” Altering areas of the brain while it is still developing can lead to problems in the future, such as misunderstanding emotions of coworkers and classmates, and overriding “the brain’s ability to sense rewards accurately in day-to-day interactions.”

Below are the warning signs of teen drug abuse from The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:

Physical: Fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting cough.

Emotional: personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression, and a general lack of interest.

Family: starting arguments, breaking rules, or withdrawing from the family.

School: decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, truancy, and discipline problems.

Social problems: new friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities, problems with the law, and changes to less conventional styles in dress and music.

While some of these warning signs can be clues that there may be a bigger problem, like depression or anxiety, parents need to take action. If your child is displaying some of these warnings signs, you should take them to see a professional. If your child is using, it is crucial that you take them to see a mental health and addiction specialist.

For more information regarding therapy for your teen, your family, or yourself, visit The Bergand Group today. We offer services to help you during you or your child’s recovery, including family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, and addiction psychiatry. Our staff works with patients to identify all factors that are involved with their addiction. We believe that identifying the issues at hand offers patients a more in-depth look at where the addiction stems from and creates a higher success rate of recovery. Our board-certified staff will tailor a treatment plan for your family’s individual needs.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore, MD our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehabilitation and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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