During adolescence, a young person goes through biological and psychological changes. In addition to the physical changes that mark growing up, the teenager’s brain is also developing ways to work more effectively. Long-term drug use causes brain changes that can set people up for addiction and other problems. Once a young person is addicted, his or her brain changes so that drugs are now the top priority. He or she will compulsively seek and use drugs even though doing so brings devastating consequences to his or her life, and for those who care about him.
It’s no secret that teenagers can be risk-takers who don’t always recognize the consequences of their actions. Drug and alcohol experimentation is often highest during these critical formative years. Teenagers are more likely to perceive the social benefits of drug use (such as being accepted among peers or feeling more social) than they are to evaluate the negative effects.
In addition to addiction risks, alcohol and drugs pose a serious risk to the physical health and growth of teens. Studies have shown that excessive drinking or drug abuse in teens can result in:
- Delayed puberty and/or negative effects on the reproductive system
- Lower bone mineral density
- Higher levels of liver enzymes that indicate liver damage
- Shorter limbs and reduced growth potential
In addition to the physical risks of teenage drinking and drug abuse, there are many other consequences that could haunt teenagers well into adulthood. Because substance abuse can muddy reasoning and encourage rash decisions, there are many side effects of substance abuse that go far beyond the biological and physiological aspects.
Some of these include:
- Criminal records that cannot be expunged
- Car accidents
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unplanned pregnancies
- Wasted academic opportunities
- Late start in chosen career path
- Damaged relationships with friends and family
If you know a teenager who is showing dangerous signs of drug or alcohol abuse, you can help them get through it. Get in touch with Free State Care in Action to receive guidance on how to support the teenager as well as his or her family. Social workers are trained to provide therapy and guidance to the addicted teenager. Referral to a rehabilitation centre can be done. The family of the addicted teenager can receive support and guidance on how to support the teenager as well as how to assist the teenager in rehabilitating himself. For more information contact Free State Care in Action at 051-4446143.