Addiction Treatment for Teen

“The brain region that is very critical in planning your actions and in habit formation is directly tapped by reward in adolescents, which means the reward could have a stronger influence in their decision-making, in what they do next, as well as forming habits in adolescents.” Bita Moghaddam of the University of Pittsburgh

The teenage years are considered one of the most critical stages in a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and social development. It is during these years that one begins to unravel his true nature—his likes and dislikes, passion, behavior, attitude, and the ability to decide wisely.

Addiction in Adolescents

Addiction in AdolescentsOut of their curiosity and impulsiveness, teens and so-called young adults are more prone to getting addicted to new things that are being introduced to them, either by the media, movies, friends, even family members, and of course, the Internet. Oftentimes and especially without the guidance of a mature guardian, these things turn out to be detrimental to their health, especially drugs and alcohol. A research that compared the brain’s response to food reward in adulthood and adolescence revealed why this is the case.

By using lab rats, which are considered relatively similar to humans in terms of impulsive behaviors and risk taking, Moghaddam and her team also found out that teens are more susceptible to stress compared to an adult, which puts them at a higher risk of mental illness or addiction.

However, this does not necessarily mean that all teenagers can become addicts. Some people, particularly those who had a difficult childhood or with a history of physical or sexual abuse, are more prone than others. The following are also considered factors that often contribute to adolescent addiction:

  • Genetic vulnerability
  • Prenatal exposure to substances and alcohol
  • Insufficient parental monitoring and supervision
  • Association with peers who use drugs and/or drink alcohol

Signs of Addiction in Teens

Teens can be generally moody because of the surge of hormones in their bodies. However, there is a significant difference when an adolescent is moody due to puberty and when he or she is behaving differently because of addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), teenagers who act withdrawn, frequently exhausted or depressed, or increasingly hostile might be developing a drug-related problem. Other signs to look out for include:

  • Changing peer group
  • Carelessness or lack of grooming
  • Skipping classes or school
  • Waning academic performance
  • Loss of interest in past hobbies
  • Altered sleeping or eating habits
  • Failing relationships with friends and relatives

Aside from alcohol, adolescents are also prone to get addicted to illicit substances as well as prescription drugs. The NIDA record puts teen abuse of illicit drugs like marijuana and ecstasy at 27.2% in 2014. Meanwhile, prescription drugs are reportedly in third place in the most abused substances, per the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Earlier the Better: Benefits of Treating Addiction in Teens

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (NCASA), 90% of the total number of addicts in the U.S. started using drugs when they were under 18 years old. Because the signs are almost the same with the average teen, parents often neglect or underestimate the seriousness of their child’s situation. However, it is important for parents to not panic either.

Parents should always remember that addiction can be remedied. They just need to try to communicate better with their teen that is most likely having a difficult time with the situation. The key word, listen.

“The most important thing to remember once you discover that your teen is abusing drugs is that there is help available.” National Institute on Drug Abuse

It is highly recommended that adolescents be given immediate treatment for addiction to give them a higher chance at full recovery and returning to their normal lives.


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