Why Is the Risk for Teenage Drug Addiction So High?

An estimated half of teenagers in the United States have misused a drug at least once in their lifetime. Hallucinogens, tranquilizers, and opioids are among the most common drugs abused.

Left untreated, drug misuse can lead to long-term teenage drug addiction. It can then affect them throughout adulthood and even lead to life-threatening situations. Indeed, drug overdoses have become a leading cause of child mortality in the U.S.

But why are teenagers more likely to try drugs in the first place? Why are more and more of them getting hooked on illicit substances?

Below is a guide exploring the answers to those questions, so please read on.

Teen Drug Use Alters Brain Maturation

The prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, isn’t fully developed until one reaches the age of 25 or so. This portion of the brain responds to situations with good judgment. It also helps people be more aware of their life decisions’ long-term consequences.

As the teen brain isn’t mature, teenagers are less likely to make rational decisions. Unfortunately, this also makes them more likely to take risks, including drug experimentation.

Even scarier is that teen drug use sets teenagers up for long-term addiction. This is because illicit drugs can alter the brain, especially its reward center. As a result, teens on drugs are more likely to prioritize drug use to reexperience that reward.

The more and longer teenagers use drugs, the more damage their brain sustains. This further impedes their young brains’ maturation. From there, the risk of long-term teen drug abuse can rise exponentially.

Increased Susceptibility to Mental Illnesses

In a 2022 report, 15% of U.S. youth aged 12 to 17 said they had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. That translates to over 3.75 million tweens and teens.

That alone is a huge problem, but what’s even more worrisome is that mental illness is a risk factor in drug use. This, coupled with their still-developing brains, increases their risk of teen drug addiction. Conversely, drug use can make them more likely to develop a mental illness.

It’s also vital to note that drug use and mental illness share similar symptoms. For example, according to this teenage drug rehab center, mood swings are common signs of drug use. Likewise, mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, can also cause mood swings.

While it doesn’t mean that teens with mental illnesses use drugs, they’re at a higher risk of doing so.

Environmental and Societal Factors

Because of their still-developing brains, it’s easier to influence teens than adults. As a result, they get swayed to do what they do for fear of being different. They also yearn to become part of their social environment.

The problem is if they join an environment with delinquents or drug-using peers. Their wanting to belong may make them agree to try illicit substances. From there, they may get hooked, leading to teen drug abuse.

Teenage Drug Addiction Is Preventable

Preventing teenage drug addiction starts at home, with parents talking to their teens. They can also help keep their teens off drugs by being role models and not using drugs themselves. Monitoring for mental illness symptoms and treating them ASAP can also help.

For more educational reads on health and wellness, check out the rest of our blog posts now!

Last Updated on January 27, 2023

Usama BIN Safdar
Meet Usama Bin Safdar, a wordsmith hailing from Faisalabad, Pakistan. With over 5 years of experience under his belt, he's a master at weaving words to create content that's not only informative but also engaging. He's a deep-diver when it comes to SEO, and as the Founder of SoftwareBench, he helps businesses and individuals navigate the digital landscape with ease. Follow Usama for a journey into the world of SEO and digital marketing, where every word is crafted with precision and passion.

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