Few people make it through the teen years wound-free. During this time, teens are taking their first individual steps socially, romantically, and even intellectually. This can be nerve-wracking for even the healthiest teen. The fears and vulnerabilities of adolescence make it a ripe period for developing mental illness. Studies reveal that one-quarter of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 have a mental illness of some kind on any given day. In fact, long-term research tracking kids from early adolescence to early adulthood (middle 20s) reveals that as many as half of all teens and young adults experience at least one occasion of mental illness like depression or anxiety. Why Kids Suffering From Mental Health Issues Turn To Substance Abuse A study took a look at teens and young adults with mental illness in order to see what percentage of them were involved with alcohol or marijuana. Subjects for the study were engaged through mental health centers called Headspace. More than 2,000 young people coming to Headspace Centers for assessment and treatment of mental illness formed the backbone of the study. The researchers learned that 12 percent of the teens who range in age from 12 to 17 were consuming alcohol every week. Additionally, seven percent were smoking marijuana once per week or more. To learn more about why so many teens are turning to alcohol and substance abuse, we must understand the pressure and responsibilities that teens are undergoing in their daily lives. If we can help them cope with their problems in a more healthy way, we will see a decrease in the amount of alcohol and drugs they use. Teens Use Alcohol To Escape Pressure Researchers have found that there is a circular syndrome where kids struggling with anxiety or depression turn to alcohol or drugs to escape unwanted feelings and pressures. However, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana can also drive mental illness. Pretty soon it is hard to identify which problem is a first cause issue. Teens are likely to get caught in this circle of issues of substance abuse and mental illness. Negative Effects Of Alcohol On Mental Illness Alcohol is a depressant so, not surprisingly, it can cause depression in drinkers. It can also lead to problems with anxiety including panic attacks. Stimulants and synthetic drugs are high-risk addiction drugs. These substances can permanently harm the adolescent brain which is in the midst of significant development until early adulthood. Psychosis is a real risk with some of these drugs. It is impossible to predict who will suffer most severely from drug or alcohol use. Genetics And Addiction It is known that family history can strongly influence a person\u2019s risk of addiction. If a family member has a drug or alcohol addiction, the young person faces a higher chance of developing one. But genetics is not the sole influence and does not perfectly predict problems. Around two or three percent of kids who smoke marijuana will experience severe effects like hallucinations, distressing thoughts, or delusions. But no one knows who will have to deal with these problems and who will not when they decide to smoke. Mental illness is a common problem during the transition to adulthood. Using drugs or alcohol can deepen those problems. The important thing is to seek help as soon as possible. Even serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia can be helped if a young person gets help quickly.\u00a0 Unfortunately, many teens and young adults wait years before they admit their struggles and ask for help. Some never do. Do not wait to get help for your teen. Contact The Right Step at if your teen needs help with an addiction.