An addiction in a friend or family member is difficult no matter what the situation. When that friend or family member is an adolescent, however, the difficulty and sadness may increase many times over. Parents who find themselves in this situation, especially if the kids are college-age or close to it, can be torn between letting the teenagers go and a desire to help and coddle the kids like when they were younger. What they may not realize is that their children are battling the situation, too, and they need all the allies they can get.
Anyone can become addicted at any time in their lives, but the adolescent period is perhaps the most dangerous time in a person’s life. However, it’s teens who are the most vulnerable, not only to social pressure to experiment with addictive substances, but also more vulnerable to the damage those substances can cause. Their minds and bodies are still developing, so teen drug use can progress into addiction faster than in adults. Also because of this development period, addiction can wreak more havoc on the teen brain (which becomes fully developed around 25 years of age), as well as on the adolescent body.
As if this vulnerability wasn’t enough to scare a parent, it turns out that many addicted teenagers get their start in their parents’ medicine cabinets. Prescription drug abuse has increased at an alarming rate in all age groups, but for a teenager with limited access to a car and funds, leftover hydrocodone (a painkiller) from a dental procedure may look like fun. Just because these drugs are available with a prescription doesn’t mean they can’t be every bit as dangerous as the more traditional “hard drugs,” and overdoses can be deadly.
There’s good news: there has been a drop in the use of tobacco among students in grades 8, 10, and 12; teenage use of methamphetamine and hallucinogens has also dropped. Unfortunately, as these have dropped, the abuse of prescription drugs acquired from friends or relatives has steadily increased.
If you are a parent or know one who is torn about how to help their adolescent, please call Right Step at 877-959-4059 today. Addicted teenagers need help, and the sooner they get it the more we can prevent and even reverse the damage done by drugs and alcohol.