Identifying Risk Factors In Your Adolescent

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Did you know that substance abuse is the largest indicator of future addiction for adolescents? Being a teen comes with its challenges, and in today’s society, our teenagers grapple with hardships that we as parents may have never encountered. By maintaining an active role in your teen’s life, you can help identify new risk factors that can increase the likelihood of teenage drug abuse, allowing the two of you to nip any serious problems in the bud and prevent any future need for long-term treatment. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2019 that 15% of high school students admitted to having used illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, inhalants, methamphetamines, or ecstasy. 14% reported misusing some form of a prescription drug, and by 12th grade, about two-thirds of students reported that they had tried alcohol. With a continued increase in adolescent substance abuse, it’s important for parents to understand its short and long-term consequences. Being able to identify the risk factors that may increase your teen’s likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse is one of the ways you can look out for your child. 

Short-Term Consequences

Teens who abuse drugs and alcohol tend to experience immediate short-term consequences. The CDC reports that substance use is directly linked to risky behaviors like unprotected sex and driving under the influence. Students who engage in substance use are more likely to become victims of physical and sexual dating violence. Drug use among teens is also associated with mental health and suicide risks, which many teens can struggle with already.

Looking to the Long-Term 

Continued substance abuse can cause teens to experience lasting long-term consequences. Students who abuse drugs and alcohol can become less motivated to attend their classes, and may allow their grades to start slipping. This can lead to students dropping out of school or even becoming incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility. According to the CDC, long-term effects can include:

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that compared to any other age group, adolescents are at the highest risk for experiencing health-related problems due to substance use.

Know the Risk Factors

Drug abuse can be a gateway that leads some adolescents to experience serious consequences throughout the rest of their lives. Having certain factors present in a teen’s family can increase the odds of drug abuse. These factors include:

  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Family rejection of sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Lack of connectedness in school or community
  • Low academic achievement 
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Mental health issues
  • Lack of parental or family involvement
  • Family members who normalize or glorify substance use

The following social factors can also contribute to the likelihood of a teen engaging in substance abuse:

  • Bullying
  • Unhealthy or rocky relationships with peers
  • Peer pressure to use substances
  • Teen dating violence 

According to the CDC, teens who begin using drugs early on are more likely to suffer from serious substance abuse later in life. In fact, data from a 2019 study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence revealed that teens who abuse prescription medications like opiates have an increased risk of displaying symptoms associated with a substance use disorder at the age of 35. Having a supportive support system in place, both at home and in their personal life continues to be a significant contribution to your teen’s chances of making it through these trials without lasting damage.

How You Can Help Your Teen 

If you have witnessed a dramatic change in your teen’s mood or behavior, or if your teen continues to use drugs regardless of the negative consequences, they may need professional treatment. Research shows that individuals who receive treatment early on have a higher chance of success. As a parent, you are in a unique position to affect your teen’s well-being by continuing to monitor their substance use, and by being a positive influence in your teen’s life.

Explore Your Options for Treatment

Treatment is always individualized, and the best course of action will vary based on the severity of your teen’s substance use. Both inpatient and outpatient treatments have been demonstrated to be successful. In some cases, adolescents may experience withdrawal symptoms which could require an inpatient detox program. This type of program allows your adolescent to be monitored by medical staff who can provide medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms. By contrast, adolescents who participate in an outpatient treatment program may only include individual, group, or family therapy sessions.

Reaching out to a recovery professional can assist you in choosing the best type of treatment that fits your situation. Data shows that treatment continues to be effective across the board. In fact, family therapy was listed as the most effective form of treatment to help reduce substance abuse among teens. If you or your teen is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, don’t hesitate to find someone who can help you.

It’s never easy for any parent to watch their child struggle. Adding in a substance abuse disorder that may leave a parent feeling completely helpless or entirely out of their depth is a place no parent wants to be. When they’re up against a problem like substance abuse, your duty as a parent is to take action to help your teen maintain a healthy and successful life. Being able to identify risk factors on both familial and social levels can help you assist your teen to be the healthiest version of themselves. If your teen is already developing unhealthy habits with substance use, there are resources available to you. Remember that it is never too late to seek help and find the right treatment. Let Everlast Recovery Centers be the ones to help you find the best treatment available for your adolescent. Call us at 866-DETOX-25 to learn more.

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