Adolescent drug and alcohol use is a continuing issue in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in recent years an average of 300 teenagers entered drug and alcohol treatment programs each day across the nation. From 2005 to 2010, one in 10 teens used prescription medications illegally. Teen drug and alcohol treatment is important to the future of teens who use.
Sixty-four percent of adult substance abusers started using drugs or alcohol as teenagers, according to Dr. Elinor F. Mcance-Katz of the Common Wealth of Virginia University. A human brain does not finish development until a person is about 24 years old. Brains of adolescents are immature and associated with impulsiveness, bad judgment and not being able to understand the consequences of actions. These factors place teenagers at increased risk to experiment with drugs and alcohol and to become addicted.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol produces cravings for the substance. Such cravings can become overwhelming and at times uncontrollable, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The craving triggers a compulsive need to seek drugs or alcohol for the purpose of satisfying the craving. Drug use begins voluntarily, but for some, an addiction begins, and use is no longer about feeling high but about avoiding withdrawal symptoms. Addicts often commit crimes such as shoplifting merchandise to sell for the purpose of funding their growing addiction costs.
Risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse include legal problems, loss of trust by family members and friends, medical problems and even death, and mental health problems. Illegal drug use or excessive use of alcohol typically interferes with the ability to maintain obligations to family, friends, work and school.
As the addiction progresses, the addict becomes more withdrawn, which reduces his self-esteem. Feeling worse about himself makes him want to get high, and the vicious cycle gets a foothold. These and other factors reinforce the teen’s desire to maintain drugs or alcohol use to avoid such consequences.
Several forms of drug and alcohol treatment are available, according to the NIDA. Residential treatment requires the adolescent to live at the facility for 28 to 365 days and undergo an intensive treatment regime.
Intensive out-patient programs require attendance in group therapy five to seven days a week. During the sessions, usually led by a certified counselor, members discuss life issues, coping skills and addiction. Regular out-patient programs require less-frequent attendance.
Twelve-step programs meet in thousands of locations throughout the nation. Such concentrate on accepting powerlessness over drugs and alcohol, and turning to a higher power.
Successful treatment of teenage drug and alcohol abuse provides many benefits. Once the adolescent becomes clear-headed and sober, she can again move forward in life with school, college or work plans and learning to build valuable relationships. Treating addicted teens helps to protect society from injury/fatal wrecks, burglaries, thefts and other crimes.