Overview of Teenage Drug Addiction

In this Overview of Teenage Drug Addiction we learn about what the stages of drug addiction and drug abuse are. This article also talks about which drugs are commonly abused by teenagers and what effect each drug has on the teen.

Teen drug abuse and addiction are becoming more prevalent these days, and it is important to understand a little bit more about substance abuse, and the kids of drugs students are using. It can also help to have a good idea of what is involved in addiction.

What is drug addiction and abuse?

One of the most basic items related to drug abuse is addiction. An addiction is when the body has developed a dependency upon a substance. Teen drug addiction happens when the student’s body craves - and may even need - the drug in order to satisfy an irresistible urge. Addiction is also characterized by tolerance. This means that a teenager needs more and more of a drug in order to feel its effects. If enough tolerance is built up, eventually one’s life can be threatened by overdose.

There are five stages of drug abuse, as identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders circulated by the American Psychological Association. These five stages of drug abuse include:

  1. Access to drugs. In this stage, there is no use of drugs. However, the teen is aware of the drugs, and knows how to get them.
  2. Experimentation. A teen may start using the drug at this stage. He or she may be satisfying curiosity, or using drugs on occasion or in social settings to enjoy a “buzz.”
  3. Increasing frequency. This stage takes the teenager beyond experimentation. He or she begins using the drugs with increasing frequency, and begins to develop signs of an addiction. The student actively seeks the means to obtain drugs.
  4. Regular usage. Teen drug abuse at this stage is characterized by the beginnings of a disruption in normal activities. The teenager begins to become preoccupied with how he or she will get the next dosage of drugs, at the expense of hobbies, school, relationships and other aspects of life.
  5. Addiction/dependency. This final stage of teen drug abuse is very serious. Drug abuse becomes the norm, and the teenager only feels as though he or she is functioning at a regular level when the drugs are in the system. Risk-taking behavior also increases at this stage, as the teen becomes willing to do anything to get the next fix.

Commonly abused drugs by teenagers

Some drugs are more common than others in terms of use by teens. Teen drug abuse of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana is most common. However, there are some other drugs that have their own popularity amongst teenagers. Here are some of the classes of drugs that are used - beyond alcohol, tobacco and marijuana - by teens.

Cold medications: These cause a slight “buzz” when taken in great quantities. Cold medications like Benadryl, NyQuil and Sudafed can be taken in a number of ways. However, many teenagers do not realize that they can be dangerous because they are mostly over the counter medications. However, they can result in health problems - and even death.

Inhalants: Such common household products as ammonia, cleaning products, aerosol products and gasoline are used as inhalants. The use of these products is referred to as “huffing.” This practice is a popular way to get a “buzz” because the products used are easily accessible. However, lung damage can be caused by these actions, and some teenagers have immediate and deadly reactions to the chemicals they are inhaling.

Stimulants: Stimulants come as illegal drugs and also as prescription drugs. Illegal stimulants include cocaine and methamphetamine. Other type of stimulants include ADD and ADHD medications, like Ritalin and Strattera, as well as over the counter wakeful aids like No-Doz. These can speed up the heart and cause other problems - especially when taken in large doses.

Prescription narcotics: Illegal narcotics such as heroin are not very popular amongst teenagers these days. However, prescription narcotics are gaining in use. This is because they are easier to get, and are perceived as being less dangerous. The more popular are pain prescriptions like Vicodin and Oxycontin, as well as codeine.

Club drugs: These are drugs meant to enhance the senses while at a party, especially at clubs. Drugs like Ecstasy provide sensory stimulation through vision, sound and touch.

Steroids: These are performance enhancing drugs, often taken to help students gain an edge in sports. However, these can stunt development, as well as cause other problems that can remain evident throughout life.

It is important to be aware of the possibility of teen drug abuse and addiction, and do your best to guard against it so that your teenager is as safe as possible.

Sources: - medicinenet.com

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