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September 14, 2022

Preventing Substance Abuse in Adolescents

Is substance abuse among adolescents really a significant problem in America? At Hollywood Hills Recovery, we see far more clients than would like who happen to be under the age of 17.

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September 14, 2022

To us, adolescent substance abuse is a huge problem. Not convinced? What do the data say? According to information provided by the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (2019), there is a significant drug abuse problem among kids 12 to 17. Here are some data of note:1. 8.33% of kids between 12-17 reported drug use in the month prior to the survey2. 591,000 teenagers aged 12-17 reported using an illicit (illegal) drug3. By the time teens reached the 12th grade, 46.6% of them had tried illicit drugs4. 4,777 Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 years old died of an overdose. That represented 11.2% of all overdose deaths in the country. With the current fentanyl overdose epidemic, these numbers are most likely much higher by now. As Americans, what can we do to battle this problem? Let's answer this very important question.

Why Adolescents Abuse Substances

Before anyone can effectively address the prevalence of adolescent substance abuse, it seems necessary to understand why it happens. This idea that kids are innocent and void of material problems in their lives doesn't hold water. The reality is very different as evidenced by this risk behavior list of typical reasons why kids abuse substances:

  • Others in the family have a history of substance abuse
  • Presence of psychological/mental health issues like anxiety and stress
  • Feelings of isolation and low self-esteem
  • Victimized by trauma - sexual/emotional/physical abuse, death in the family, affected by natural disaster

To be clear, you can't fix a problem if you can't isolate the source of the problem. These and other reasons represent a majority of the root causes of adolescent substance abuse in America.

The Consequences of Adolescent Substance Abuse

We have to battle adolescent substance abuse because the short and long-term consequences of this abuse are significant. The list of unintended negative consequences from adolescent substance abuse includes:

  • High-risk sexual behavior
  • Damage to the educational process, or dropout,, which could affect a child's life goals
  • Overdose death
  • Creation of mental/psychological health problems
  • Criminal behaviors, including driving under the influence
  • Long-term social problems

Preventing Adolescent Substance Abuse

As a rule of thumb, adolescent substance abuse will progress into adulthood and get worse if intervention doesn't happen in the teen years. That's why we treat teens in our treatment facility with such fervor. We know what's at stake. We advocate for preventive intervention, to avoid those drug problems down the line Here's the good news. They are significant steps that can be taken to help prevent adolescents from falling victim to addiction due to substance abuse. To be clear, most of the responsibility for keeping kids away from adolescent substance use has to be leveled on parents. Sure, keeping track of kids can be difficult in the teen years. Just the same, parents have to lay down prevention efforts because kids aren't always able to make good decisions.Here are some of the ways parents can implement early intervention to help keep their kids away from substance abuse:

Talk to your Teen: It seems parents have abdicated interactions with their kids to texts and FB messages. Nothing can replace the value of family bonding, sitting face-to-face with your child, and having open discussions about the risk factors of drugs and alcohol use. These discussions must center on participating in the illegal drug trade, the long-term effects of substance abuse, and how to resist peer pressure.

Stay Connected to Your Child's Life: As a parent, you have an obligation to know where your child is going, what they are doing, and with whom they are associating. It's not about trying to control every aspect of their decision-making, it's about developing substance use prevention strategies so you can protect them from bad decisions. Prescription drugs, opioids, and binge drinking have quickly found their way into school settings. While school-based programs are public health and human services that can be found outside the home, it is important that as a parent you too are mentoring them and advocating for their health care.

Set Rules and Deliver Consequences: Forget that woke nonsense about punishing kids. You set the protective factors as a parent and you deliver the consequences when your child tries to skirt the rules.

Lead By Example: Internet aside, parents and family history still influence kids via their own behavior. Do you really have to have a beer or glass of wine every night? The best way to teach your kid to say no is for you, as a parent, to say no. Hopefully, you will never need to send your child to Hollywood Hill Recovery for treatment. Effective prevention programs are often the best in stopping the development of a substance use disorder from even happening in young adults and young people. If you suspect something has gone awry in the well-being of high school students and want information about our addiction treatment service, please don't hesitate to contact our providers for a referral or follow-up.

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