What is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month? This event is sponsored by CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The goal is to bring communities together to spread the message that drug prevention does work. Across the nation, organizations and individuals are coming together to share in the activities and promote safe and healthy communities. Their collective efforts are the foundation for targeting the causes of substance abuse and addictions and reduce the adverse consequences before they happen.
During National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, the ONDCP works to bring together parents, youth, government officers, and educators to help strengthen the support systems that serve to deter our youth from drug use. In this way, our young people benefit from improved academic performance and workforce readiness.
Why Should Prevention Efforts be Aimed at Teens?
The younger a person is when they begin abusing drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction. Neuroscientists conducted studies that show that a teenager’s brain is going through a complex stage of development during adolescence. This process usually lasts until age twenty-five. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is responsible for making judgments. In teens, this area of the brain is not fully developed, putting them at risk for an inability to control impulses. As a result, they are more likely to develop addiction issues.
Some of the damages that occur in a teen’s brain from substance abuse can be permanent. The damage can lead to poor memory, decreased cognitive ability, and a lifetime of struggling to perform well in school, at work, and in relationships. Below are some statistics that highlight the prevalence of teen substance abuse:
- Teens abuse alcohol more than any illicit drug.
- Teen alcohol abuse causes about 200,000 ER visits each year
- Deaths from alcohol abuse among teens reached 4,300 last year.
- About 68% of 12th graders admit they have tried alcohol.
- Approximately 37% of 12th graders consumed alcohol in the last month.
- About 23% of 10th graders admitted to drinking in the past month.
- 22% of high schoolers rode in someone’s care who had been drinking.
- 10% of high schoolers drove after drinking.
When you add in marijuana, cocaine, club drugs, and prescription drugs, teens have no shortage of ways to alter the course of their lives with dangerous substances.
Far-Reaching Effects of Drug Use by Teens
Not only do drugs cause brain abnormalities and impaired learning ability. Other consequences can include depleted dopamine levels in the brain causing prolonged depression and destructive behaviors. Substance abuse during adolescence can also result in stunted growth and other lifelong health conditions.
We want to see our young people reach their full potential and become contributing members of society. With campaign such as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, we can reach millions of kids and hopefully save many lives.
How to Know if Your Teen Needs Treatment for Drug Abuse
The longer you teen continues abusing drugs or alcohol, the harder it will be to recover. As parents, you should be aware of the signs of addiction, so you will know if it is time to intervene on your child’s behalf. Some of the things you can watch out for are:
- secretive behavior
- a new group of friends
- staying out later than usual
- drug paraphernalia
- lack of interest in hobbies other activities
- poor hygiene
- weight changes
- mood swings, agitation, aggression
- lying, stealing
- poor academic performance
- erratic sleep patterns
- suicidal thoughts or attempts
Of course, some of the above signs could be an indication of other conditions or problems the child is going through. But, it is wise to be aware of the symptoms of drug abuse as a proactive measure. No one wants to be in a position of wishing they had been more observant and could have prevented some of their child’s suffering.
Learn More About Teen Substance Abuse
At Awakenings Rehabilitation, we can help you determine if your teen is in need of professional addiction treatment. Contact us today if you would like more information about our programs.
Our addiction treatment specialists are dedicated to helping individuals recover from drug abuse. But, we are also advocates for substance abuse education and prevention. The National Substance Abuse Prevention Month is one of many campaigns that is saving teen’s lives as well as adults. Let’s all do whatever we can to support these events.