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Teenage Drug Abuse: Types And Reasons

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The teen years are a time of rapid growth, exploration, and onset of risk taking. Taking risks with new behaviors gives teens the opportunity to test their skills and abilities and discover who they are. But, some behaviors have risks, such as drug abuse. Abuse is defined as “the use of a drug to experience psychoactive effects instead of for its medical indication.” 23 percent of teenagers have consumed alcohol by 8th grade. Teenagers just do not understand the consequences of drug abuse.

One of the main problems with teenage drug abuse is addiction. Once a person has any addiction of some sort, their addiction becomes one of their main priorities. Depending on how addicted someone is, depends on how much time and money someone is willing to put aside for their drug.

One way to prevent teen drug abuse is to stop it when it first starts. There are many signs teens show when they start to abuse illegal drugs. One of the most obvious signs is the smell of smoke on their breath or on their clothes. This is most prevalent for Marijuana users because the odor is so strong. Another physical trait that you can look out for is bloodshot eyes. Bloodshot eyes are common symptoms of intoxication from several drugs and is caused by blood vessels in the eyes that expand. Some of the drugs that fall into this category are alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. When a teen randomly starts to have poor hygiene and/or a diminished personal appearance, they might have started to abuse illegal drugs. If that is the case, then that means that their drug addiction has gotten to a point that their physical appearance is not one of their top priorities anymore.

If a teen all of a sudden is having unusual secretive behavior, then they might have started abusing illegal drugs. They might like to keep to themselves and stop hanging out with their normal friend group. When a teen is isolating themselves, and not telling anyone why, that might be another sign. One last sign is unusual tiredness. Substances such as alcohol and marijuana can cause drowsiness. Many other drugs that make people stay awake for long periods of time, such as cocaine or amphetamines, will also likely cause sleepiness after their effects wear off and a person has been deprived of sleep.

Not only can drug abuse in your teen years have negative effects on your body/ physical wellbeing, but put your professional and social future at risk. Getting caught with any type of illegal drug puts you in the risk of going to prison. If you get lucky, you might only get a fine. Another possibility is that you obtain a criminal record. If you have a criminal record, the job opportunities for you are very slim because most companies do not want to put their companies on the line for a drug addict. Another output is a sexually transmitted disease or unwanted pregnancies, which both come from making the wrong decision while under the influence.

The most common drug that is used and abused by teens is alcohol. This is due to the fact that there is not much exposure on the effects of underage drinking. According to the American Medical Association, 'Tobacco Control' has been receiving between 400 million and 900 million dollars a year to promote anti-smoking activities but not anti-alcohol commercials? Approximately 20 percent of 12th graders reported binge drinking in 2014. Nearly 40 percent had used alcohol in the last month. Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows down various sections of the brain and the central nervous system. Some of its effects are not being able to control your behaviour and your bodily functions, like thinking, talking, walking and even breathing. Teens are also more likely to binge drink because their impulse control hasn’t fully developed yet. Heavy or regular drinking during the teenage years can lead to lifelong brain damage, impairment to brain function, and it can put teens in danger of alcoholism as an adult.

A close second to the most abused drug by teens is marijuana. Similar to alcohol, teens assume that marijuana usage has no risks; Most high school seniors do not think occasionally smoking marijuana has any form of risks. More than 20 percent of teenagers have reported that they used marijuana in the last month. Teens who smoke marijuana are more likely to drop out of school, then teens who do not abuse drugs. Although 10% of teens that use marijuana get A’s in school, Marijuana usage as a teen also puts you at an increased risk of having mental health issues. It has been observed that there is a link between various mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, and the usage of marijuana. If a teen is impaired by marijuana (as well as any other illegal substances), they cannot drive. otherwise they are putting themselves, as well as everyone else in the car in great danger. While you are under the influence of marijuana, your reaction time, coordination, and concentration are very strongly affected which makes driving extremely unsafe. 1 in 6 teens who have used marijuana multiple times become addicted. That means that it’s possible that they make multiple unsuccessful attempts to quit but their own body would not let them.

Another commonly abused drug by teenagers is OTC (Over The Counter) drugs and prescription drugs. Over the Counter drugs are so popular for teens because they are less expensive and easily accessible. Nearly 40 percent of teenagers who abused prescription medication got the drugs from their own parent’s medicine cabinets. A person of any age can purchase Over the Counter drugs and there is also no limit on how many you can purchase at a time.

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There are seven types of drugs. The first type is stimulants, which mainly impacts the body's central nervous system. This drug increases the activity of the central nervous system and the body, drugs that are pleasurable and invigorating, or drugs that have sympathomimetic effects. Stimulants increase your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and blood glucose level, which causes a feeling of “speeding up”. Stimulants can be snorted, consumed as food and drink, or, most common, in the form of a pill. The primary reason that doctors would prescribe stimulants for a person would be if they had ADHD, narcolepsy, or asthma.

The second type of drug is hallucinogens. Hallucinogens are drugs that alter a person's state of mind. One kind of hallucinogens are Dissociative drugs. Dissociative drugs can cause users to feel out of control or disconnected from their body and environment. The other kind is classic hallucinogens. While you are under the influence of either drug, you will experience intense mood swings, feeling sensations that you think are real but are not, and you might hear sounds that are not actually there.

The third type of drug is depressants. Similar to stimulants, depressants also mainly affect the central nervous system. Depressants on the other hand, slow down the central nervous system and the messages going between the brain and the body. As an addiction to depressants worsens, insomnia, weakness, and nausea are all possible withdrawal symptoms. Confusion, dizziness, fever, and difficulty urinating are all effects depressants have on its users. Some long term side effects of depressants are depression, chronic fatigue, breathing difficulties, sexual problems and sleep problems. Some examples of depressants are alcohol, opiates(Heroin and Morphine), and benzodiazepine.

Another type of drug is inhalants. Inhalants are unlike most other illegal drugs because they can be found inside of your own house. Inhalants starve the body of oxygen and force the heart to beat irregularly and more rapidly. Some examples are cleaning fluids, gasoline, hairspray, glues, etc. Most inhalants affect the central nervous system and slow down brain activity.

Cannabis is the fifth type of drug. It might not be as harmful to your body, but you can still develop an addiction to marijuana. A large majority of marijuana is grown here in the United States which is convenient for most users. Since marijuana is so easily accessible, it is an ideal drug to get addicted to. Those who smoke or ingest marijuana may build up a tolerance to it over time, meaning they need to use more to experience the same effects, which is where the addiction comes in.

The sixth type of drug is opiates. The main usage of opiates is to treat pain. Substances like opiates are highly addictive and and put all of its users at risk of opiate addiction. Some of the most common opioids that are found in prescribed painkillers are dilaudid, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl, as well as the illicit drug heroin. Common side effects of opioid usage include sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, physical dependence, tolerance, and respiratory depression.

The last kind of drug is dissociatives. Dissociatives are drugs that alter the brain’s receptors for the chemical glutamate, which plays a substantial role in cognition, emotionality, and pain perception. Dissociatives tend to make its users feel as if they are watching themselves from outside their own bodies. Side effects of dissociatives are immediate and start to kick after its first use. Some of them are depression/ anxiety, suicidal thoughts, speech difficulties, and many others.

Being a teen is never easy, especially if you are battling a drug addiction. Teen years are a struggle for everybody and it’s when everyone begins to distinguish themselves from others. Although for some reason drugs may be perceived as cool or trendy, it is never okay to abuse drugs. So if you suspect that a teenager may be experimenting with drugs, then the best thing to do is to try to talk to them and find help. Battling an addiction is difficult to do alone, whether you are a teen or not.

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Teenage Drug Abuse: Types And Reasons. (2021, September 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from
“Teenage Drug Abuse: Types And Reasons.” Edubirdie, 08 Sept. 2021,
Teenage Drug Abuse: Types And Reasons. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Feb. 2024].
Teenage Drug Abuse: Types And Reasons [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 08 [cited 2024 Feb 23]. Available from:
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