There is good news in the fight against teen drug addiction. The 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) annual survey indicates that past-year use of any illicit drug was the lowest in the survey’s history for eighth graders, while past year use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is down from recent peaks in 10th and 12th grades.
The MTF survey, taken annually since 1975, measures drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders each year. Under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the survey is conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. While the general trend is that drug abuse among teens is declining, there is still much to do to protect the nation’s youth from drug abuse.
Here are the figures from the latest report, which polled 45,473 students from 372 public and private schools:
- 1 in 16 high school seniors report daily use of marijuana
- 22.8% of 8th graders report using alcohol
- 43.4% of 10th graders report using alcohol
- 61.2% of 12th graders report using alcohol
- 4.8% of 12th graders report abusing prescription opioids
- 6.7% of 12th graders report abusing amphetamines
- 4.3% of 12th graders report abusing hallucinogens
While these numbers were admittedly less than they have been in years past, they are still a reminder of how far there is yet to go in the fight against teen drug abuse and addiction.
If you are a teen who is currently using, or you are a parent whose child is abusing drugs, there are some things you should know.
1) Teens are more likely than adults to become addicted.
Medicine.net explains: “Individuals who begin using drugs as juveniles are at greater risk of becoming addicted compared to those who begin drug use as an adult due to the immaturity of the teenage brain, particularly of that part of the brain that controls impulses.”
2) Teens who abuse drugs are at increased risk for multiple serious health issues.
The type of health concerns a teen will have from drug addiction varies according to the type of drug abused. For instance, inhalants can cause permanent brain damage, stimulants can cause heart attacks or strokes, and sedatives can cause respiratory failure.
Abuse of any type of drug can lead to impaired judgment, unprotected sex, increased anxiety or depression, and even suicide.
3) Some common risk factors that contribute to drug abuse in teens include:
- Low parent supervision or communication
- Family conflict and unresolved tensions
- Inconsistent parental discipline
- Family history of alcohol or drug abuse
- Low impulse control
- Low self-esteem
- Emotional instability
- Lack of perception regarding the risks associated with drug use
4) Signs to look for if you think your child is addicted to drugs are:
- Sudden change in personality and friendships
- Changes in school grades
- Becoming verbally or physically abusive to others
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Secretive behavior beyond what is common to teenagers
5) Help is available for teen addicts and their families.
If you are a teen with a drug problem or a parent whose child is an addict, know this: Help is available. Teens who enter into substance abuse treatment or drug and alcohol rehab can regain control of their lives.
The best way to approach teen drug addiction is as a united family. Families who participate in cognitive and behavioral therapy together can successfully aid an addicted teen to start down the road to recovery.
However, even if you are a teen whose parents do not provide support, you can still benefit from drug rehab on your own. In rehab, you can learn life skills that will help you cope with the effects of kicking your drug habit and with the issues that caused it in the first place. In other words, you can learn how to heal.
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