Parents across the U.S. are understandably concerned about the possibility that their children will get involved in some form of drug abuse. While worries may center on teenagers, you may also wonder if your pre-teen child has any significant risk for drug abuse. Nationwide figures indicate that drug use at this age is somewhat common, but (with one notable exception) still much less likely to occur than in teenagers. Pre-teens can still benefit from drug and alcohol treatments and should seek them out before their addictions worsen.
Benzodiazepines are a category of psychiatric medications that work on specific neurotransmitters in the brain to produce a calming effect. They are used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, seizures and sleep disorders. When taken as prescribed and to treat specific conditions, these medications aren’t typically dangerous, but there is the potential for benzodiazepines addiction when they are abused. Adolescence is an emotionally challenging time, and teens may seek benzodiazepines from the medicine cabinets of parents or relatives in order to escape the stresses of everyday life.
Teen drug use and depression sometimes go hand-in-hand. Some individuals may turn to drugs in order to “self-medicate” feelings of depression. Drugs often provide a powerful feeling of euphoria, well-being or razor-sharp focus. Unfortunately, once these temporary effects wear off, the depression symptoms are often felt more strongly than ever. This leads to a vicious cycle of psychological (and possibly physical) drug dependence as a person attempts to diminish or self-manage feelings of depression.
But teens generally abuse the substances that are easiest for them to get, and for many teens it’s easier to drink their parent’s alcohol than to experiment with drugs. Alcohol numbs the feelings of depression for a short while, providing temporary relief. However, alcohol is a depressant, and its use is never a healthy or long-term solution for depression. In fact, it is illegal for minors to possess or drink alcohol, and Texas drinking and driving laws crack down on its use via sobriety checkpoints.
In a newly released full report, Virginia’s Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) found that 26 teen overdose deaths that occurred in the state between 2009 and 2013 were fully preventable. The state’s CFRT studied the issue in response to the increase in overdose deaths throughout the state and across age groups. The number of deaths caused by poisoning or overdose in Virginia increased by 13% from 2012 to 2013. In addition to the findings that the teen deaths were preventable, CFRT also discovered risk factors and other important facts.
Researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital have recently discovered that the number of children younger than 6 years old exposed to marijuana is rising. Results from their study, published online in the journal Clinical Pediatrics in June 2015, showed a 147.5% increase in marijuana exposure among those under the age of 6 between 2006 and 2013. That rate soared almost 610% during the same time period in states that have legalized the drug for medical purposes.
Additionally, researchers found that the exposure rate in the states that legalized marijuana between 2000 and 2013 rose nearly 16% per year after the legalization. They also spotted a significant jump the year legalization took place. Even the states in which marijuana remained illegal by 2013 showed an increase of 63% among the rate of exposed children 2000 to 2013.
“The high percentage of ingestion in children may be related to the popularity of marijuana brownies, cookies and other foods,” Henry Spiller, MS, DABAT, a co-author of the study and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital said in a news release. “Very young children explore their environments by putting items in their mouths, and foods such as brownies and cookies are attractive.”
Compared to recent generations, teenagers today are increasingly less likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or abuse several kinds of drugs and medications. Still, teens all across the country continue to develop serious substance problems, up to and including addiction. For a number of reasons, substance treatment facilities must find ways to tailor their programs to meet the unique needs of teenage participants. One specific approach that can have significant benefit for adolescents in treatment is music therapy.
Talking with teens can be tricky at best. If they perceive judgment, they’ll shut down faster than you can say “Snapchat.” Using an interview technique called motivational interviewing, professionals and family members can find ways to talk with teens, even about difficult subjects — including addiction — without triggering the shut-down response.
A small but significant number of American teenagers use the illegal stimulant drug cocaine at least once a year. Unfortunately, exposure to cocaine (or any other drug) at this age can disrupt the natural course of brain growth and development. One of the potential consequences of this altered brain function is an increased chance of developing a cocaine addiction and consequently, a need for cocaine addiction treatment. Let’s examine the facts more closely.
Peer pressure and “fitting in” are two of the top reasons many adolescents make the choice to experiment with drugs. Drug abuse among teens is a problem in communities and homes. In a recent study, 35% of high school seniors said that they had consumed alcohol in the previous month while 21% had smoked marijuana and 11% had smoked cigarettes. Half of high school seniors reported that they had used an illegal drug at least one time. The use of smokeless tobacco is also on the rise among teens. The list goes on. How can you help encourage your child to not become part of these statistics? And if your teen has been through rehab for substance abuse, how can you implement proven coping skills for addicts to help them avoid relapse?
Recent studies have shown that the family and school environments can both protect Hispanic teens from and put them at risk for substance abuse. Many factors go into the initiation of substance abuse, including individual factors. However, the latest research is helping to pinpoint how external, social factors affect young Hispanics and may either lead them to substance abuse or prevent them from experimenting. Understanding these factors can help schools and communities develop strategies for preventing substance abuse in young people.