The Real Dangers of Teen Drug and Alcohol Use

According to the United Nations 2011 World Drug Report, about 13.7 % of the world’s population use marijuana, 2.4 % use cocaine, 1.5 % use amphetamines, 1.4% use ecstasy, and 6% use opiate prescription drugs.

One other major health problem among youth in the United States is the use of alcohol. Some facts for you to consider:
* It is used more often than tobacco or illicit drugs.
* Approximately 75, 000 deaths per year are related to alcohol consumption and 41% of those deaths are motor vehicle crash related.
* Alcohol and drug use is linked to unintentional injuries, anger, fighting, academic related problems, social, and illegal problems.
* Long term misuse of alcohol causes damage to the body such as neurological, cardiovascular system, hepatic system, gastrointestinal system, and even psychiatric problems such as anxiety, depression, and even antisocial personality disorder.
* Alcohol and drug use contribute to some teens contracting HIV directly or indirectly because they practice unsafe sexual practices while under the influence.

According to a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control in 2009, 21% of high school students (9th-12th grade) smoked marijuana within a one month period. Marijuana is number three of the top five drugs that account for admissions to drug treatment centers. The long term effects are:
* Psychotic Symptoms
* Damage To The Lungs And Heart
* Worsen Lung Infections
* Lower The Body’s Ability To Fight Off Infection Or Illness

Prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse has dangerously soared among teens and is one of the top type of drugs that is commonly abused by 12th graders in the past year. The most commonly abused prescriptions abused are pain killers, stimulants, depressants, anti-anxiety, and tranquilizers. Common used prescription drugs by teens are:
* Vicodin
* Oxycontin
* Adderall

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health approximately 4% of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 admitted to abusing prescription drugs within the month. In 2006, approximately 3.1 million young people used OTC cough medicine to get high. Commonly used OTC cough and cold medicines used by teens are:
* NyQuil
* Robitussin
* Coricidin

According to the latest research 3% of 12th graders used steroids this year. One shocking find is that teens as early as eighth grade are admitting to using them. Teens that use steroids are often using them to bulk up, improve their appearance, or enhance their athletic ability. Some common steroids that are abused by teens are:
* Creatine
* Ephedra

Teens and steroids do not mix because one of the biggest side effects is that they can affect growth. Teens do not finish growing until young adulthood and they end up stunting their growth with the use of steroids. Some common side effects are:
* Sterility
* Aggressiveness
* Acne
* Injury to connective tissue
* Damage to the liver and cholesterol levels
* Hair loss

Inhalants use has been rising over the last decade and are very dangerous. They include chemicals that are sniffed or “huffed” (inhaling vapors) to get high. When chemicals are inhaled, they starve the body of oxygen causing permanent physical and mental damages. Many of the chemicals use that are found in commonly household products such as:
* Paints
* Aerosol Sprays
* Cleaning Fluids
* Paint Thinners
* Nail Polish Removers

There are many other drugs such as stimulants, hallucinogens, and energy drinks that are also putting teens at risk for permanent injury or death. Teens never think they are going to die and often they say they feel invincible. It is common for teens to carry the attitude that “it can’t happen to me” which is why many teens will use drugs and not fear the consequences. They think that the drug use is often a solution to all of their problems but, in reality, it is just the beginning of a path of destruction, sadness, and often death.

Here are some reasons why teens use drugs and alcohol:
* To fit in
* To escape problems at home, in school, or even psychological symptoms
* To experiment
* To feel like an adult
* To rebel against authority
* To relieve boredom

Drugs and alcohol affect the mind negatively by distorting perception, blocking all sensations, blurring memory, destroying creativity, and they can become a doorway to mental illness. Educate yourself on the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse in teens. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

About Elizabeth Rojas Brooks

Elizabeth Brooks completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Southern California, and is currently pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology. Because of her own background, Beth has developed a level of compassion and understanding for the less fortunate, the wounded and the misunderstood. Her journey to recover from her own past has led her to pursue her passion – helping others who have had similar experiences. Beth’s goal is to work in the area of violence and abuse prevention and addiction recovery. She also has a special desire to assist our service men and women who are struggling with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

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