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Determining Drug Use in Teens (Part Two)

Drug Use Part Two - The Bergand Group

In a previous blog entry, “Determining Drug Addictions in Teens (Part One)”, we discussed the first two levels of drug use in teenagers and how to recognize their signs and symptoms.  In the second part of this discussion, the third and fourth levels, which are more serious and with greater hazards, are explored in depth to foster better understanding for everyone involved.

The Last Three Stages of Drug Use

The third level in teen alcohol or drug use is considered to begin when the usage turns “excessive.”  In this case, the overindulgence can either be accidental or intentional, both of which have different repercussions and next steps in the process.  The “better” scenario is if the adolescent didn’t mean to imbibe as much as he or she did in this particular instance.  It can still have serious dangers; though the heavy drinking or drug use may not have happened (entirely) on purpose, it’s easy for it to lead to a trip to the hospital.  With luck, the teen realizes after this event that there are consequences to substance abuse and he or she will dramatically reduce use or eliminate it completely to avoid a repeat performance.

In excessive use, the teenager may have purposefully drank too much or experimented extensively with other substances.  People are often drawn toward the state of no inhibitions that comes with an altered state of mind and look past the associated hazards for those hours of “freedom.”  Even if they can’t remember what happened or what they did the night before, they’ll likely regard it as a positive experience because they achieved the desired result of “not having to worry.”

That’s assuming, of course, that blacking out or getting a little sick were the worst things that happened.  If the teen’s binge drinking or drug use was intended to be “in competition” with his or her peers and/or to abandon self-consciousness, then it’s likely that the consumption was much more than it would be otherwise.  It’s possible for the unintentional users to over-indulge, but the chance is higher for those who did it with intention.  It’s a scary idea made more disturbing by the fact that this excessive level of use will likely be visited again.

The fourth level of alcohol and drug use is referred to as “abuse.”  “The first sign of substance abuse is a significant loss of caring about performance, values, reputation, and relationships that previously mattered.”  This can manifest at home and school, in work and in relationships: basically, anywhere that he or she may have shown interest or discipline before.  The abuse stage is much more obvious and hard to be denied by onlookers and those who care for the teenager.  Following that, “the second sign of substance abuse appears. Increasingly bad decisions – educational, familial, and social – begin to be made.”  A lack of concern for occasions and people in the teen’s life who they’d once held respect for may have fallen way, way by the wayside.

Part of the enormous danger with the abuse level of addiction is the cycle that develops: the teen doesn’t care about consequences, which encourage bad decisions, which lead to consequences that he or she doesn’t care about.  It’s extremely difficult for these individuals to rise to other stages and recover from their concerning alcohol and drug use without the help of others when they’ve reached this level.  Even with love, encouragement, and support from parents, it’s really necessary to seek professional assistance before abuse turns into the last level of drug use.

This final tier is “addiction.”  “The most serious level of problem substance use is addiction at which point the teenager has become dependent on a self-destructive substance to survive.”  The teen makes it a priority to seek out the alcohol or drug to which they’ve become addicted and put that drive before everything else, no matter what happens to them or around them.  Physiologically, at this point, the addiction is in both body and mind and cannot be remedied through willpower alone.  The strength of the dependency means that the teen needs the expertise and resources of an addiction recovery center.  As a parent, it’s unhelpful and sometimes counter-productive to say things like “why can’t you just stop,” considering how far the addiction has come and the kind of hold it has over the teenager.

There are a number of tiers to drug use and each needs a different approach.  In general, parents “must insist on adequate two-way communication with their teenager,” but if the usage has become out of control, professional help needs to be sought out.  Treatment is the most effective way to help someone to move from addiction back into a substance-free lifestyle.

For more information about serious alcohol abuse or drug use in Baltimore and Harford County, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, 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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