Teenage boys and girls are still in the stage of developing important life skills and their identity. They are highly impressionable and some of them begin teens begin to experiment with drugs to fit in or gain friends. This is unfortunate because they may end up with a life-threatening habit. Therefore, it is critical to prevent it from happening at a personal, social and community level. That can be done by providing a firm foundation and clear ideas on the perils of addiction.
The goal of prevention is to attempt to stop teenagers and adolescents from partaking in substance abuse, whether its alcohol, opioids or cocaine. There are several factors why adolescents get into trying and using substances. One of them is coping with distressing mental and emotional conditions, such as depression, anxiety, broken relationships (family, friends, and romantic relationships), poor or declining health, difficulty maintaining self-esteem, grief, loss or trauma, problems making friends and feeling isolated, etc.
In addition to that, teens may also use illicit substances because of peer pressure or in an attempt to belong or blend in. They are unaware of the consequences of such acts of substance abuse on individuals and their loved ones, including legal trouble, prolonged substance abuse, poly-drug use, contracting infections and unwanted pregnancy.
While teens from all backgrounds abuse harsh and addictive chemicals, some teenagers have a higher predilection for substance abuse. These include those suffering from mental disorders such as depression, or those who are moving or transitioning and may end up feeling isolated. They then may turn to a substance to distract themselves from their problems.
In general, the earlier they begin, the greater the likelihood of them developing and maintaining a substance use disorder later in life. They develop tolerance to the substance early, which often leads to a dependency within as little as a few weeks or months, which ultimately leads to a full-blown substance abuse disorder by the age of 20. They also tend to transition to a stronger, but more deadly substance. Also, teens with chronic pain conditions, especially those who have taken prescription opioids for relief, and are at an increased risk of developing an addiction. If there is a family history of drug abuse.
It is very important to identify the early signs of such behavior among teens and stop it in the ranks. What is even more important is prevention, and prevention of drug and alcohol abuse starts at home. Parents or guardians should build a rapport with them and then talk to them about the evils of these habits and how to stay away from them while they are young as this creates a strong foundation for awareness. It is important for parents to set good examples themselves by having a drug-free behavior. Parents need to continue to strengthen their relationship with them and build trust so that children feel safe and are able to confide in them in pressing times where they could turn to drugs.