Teen years are very risky in every individual’s life. People during this period are more vulnerable to attractions including unhealthy habits. Wrong steps at this point not only show negative impact on rest of the life but also may cost one’s life at times. Hence, it is very important to educate teens about the advantages of staying away from unhealthy habits such as substance abuse.
Below is the information on how crucial teenage is, why it is important to stay away from drugs and what are the benefits of staying away from drugs.
Teenage – a critical stage of life
Teenage is a transition period between childhood and early adulthood, where many changes takes place both physically and mentally in an individual. Teens generally consider their peer group to be more important and influential than their parents and guardians. Teens are prone to various risk factors which make them get addicted to drugs. Some of the risk factors include drug abusing peers, easy availability of illicit substances, thrill seeking behavior, etc. Teens need to understand that these risk factors influence them get into unhealthy habits that destroy their lives.
Importance of staying away from drugs
Drug abuse causes serious to severe problems both physically and mentally. Numerous studies and statistics are available regarding the harmful effects of substance abuse. Abstaining from these unhealthy habits not only increases the quality of life but also decreases the chances of medical complications and diseases. Apart from these, a person free from any kind of unhealthy habits will always gain respect from his family and the society.
Benefits of staying away from drugs
Rest of this article brings you benefits of staying away from substance abuse.
Healthy lifestyle: Avoidance of illicit drugs is one of the key factors for staying healthy. Drugs affect the central nervous system very strongly. Substance abuse may also lead to serious health complications, make the person weak and at times completely ruin the physical appearance of the person. Hence, staying away from drugs obviously improves health, and ensures overall well-being, thus facilitating a healthy lifestyle.
Good academics: Substance abuse results in poor academic performance. Drugs slow down the functioning of the brain, which results in poor concentration and less activeness. Drug abusing students struggle to perform academically and attend classes regularly. Whereas, a teen free from drugs and other unhealthy habits not only performs well in his academics but also succeeds in the later stages of life.
Low risk of crimes and accidents: Quitting unhealthy habits, especially alcohol and drug abuse, greatly lowers the risk of involvement in crime and accidents. Under the influence of drugs, a person loses his control on mind and is not aware of what is good and bad. If we observe the statistics of road accidents, majority of them have occurred due to drunken and/or drug abused drivers.
In some cases, if the addicts don’t have enough funds, they tend to do thefts, robberies and shop lifting activities to finance their drug abusing habits. This makes them land in several legal problems. Hence, to lead a hassle free life, one has to avoid drugs.
Bright future: Healthy life style, good academics, crime free profile – aren’t these enough to have a problem free life? Definitely, yes. Today, many schools, colleges and companies are conducting drug testing. It is very difficult for a person to pursue good education or get a worthy job if he fails to pass these drug tests. Hence, a drug free individual can have a positive outlook on future.
These are the key advantages of staying away from substance abuse during teen years. Teenage is exciting, but at the same time risky. The person who successfully spends his teenage by correcting his emotional imbalances will lead a happy life.
The damage caused by substance abuse becomes increasingly challenging to camouflage. You may see the signs in yourself; you may see the signs in someone you care for. The mirror rarely lies. Your reflection will eventually reveal the burden you work so hard to conceal.
Substance Abuse Damages the Skin
For those who are relatively healthy, skin changes are often the first recognizable indicator of substance use and abuse. This may explain why dermatologists are often the first of the medical professionals to recognize the early signs of substance abuse disorder.
For better or worse, your skin is a reflection of what’s happening inside your body. The chemicals fueling your addiction will impair your skin’s ability to repair and heal. The effects are cumulative. While chemical abuse will cause your skin to take on a dull, unhealthy tone, certain types of substances are known to cause specific skin concerns. Some of the common skin concerns include:
. Vascular damage
. Mouth sores
. Skin flushing
Accelerating the Aging process with Stimulants
If you are indulging in any type of stimulant, you potentially expedite the aging process. Your heart beats faster, and your body needs to work harder to keep up with the increased demands. Under the strain of stimulants, your body produces the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol breaks down the collagen and elastin in your skin.
Collagen is the support structure within your skin. Elastin keeps your skin supple. When a body is under the stress of chemical dependency, the loss of collagen and elastin will result in saggy jowls, drooping eyelids, loose skin, wrinkles and deepened folds around your nose and mouth. In fact, stimulant abuse can cause you to look decades older. When you combine the effects of collagen loss with the potential weight loss and malnutrition associated with stimulant abuse, the acceleration of skin aging is even more pronounced
The Scars and Scabs of Methamphetamine Use
The chemical imbalances and dehydration caused by drug use, particularly methamphetamines, can result in uncomfortable and troubling sensations on your skin. You may feel like you have bugs crawling on your skin and below the surface. The sensations can be maddening. You may respond by scratching or picking at your skin. Irritation leads to more scratching and picking. Repeated skin irritation and skin injury will result in sores that heal slowly, or not at all. This cycle will scar your skin.
Sores that are slow to heal, blisters, scabs, and scars are some of the more recognizable skin problems associated with methamphetamine use. Commonly called meth sores or meth mites, these sores most commonly occur on your face and arms.
Since methamphetamines also interfere with blood flow, meth sores can appear anywhere on your body. Methamphetamines destroy blood vessels, interfere with your body’s ability to repair cellular damage and can also cause leathery looking skin.
The Enlarged, Protruding or Damaged Veins of Intravenous Drug Use
Many IV drugs are vasodilators that can also induce vasospasms. That means that IV drugs will cause your blood vessels to expand, but then quickly contract. Vasospasms disrupt your circulation, which results in pain, swelling, skin ulcerations, skin infections and blood clots.
Approximately 88 percent of intravenous drug users will also develop chronic venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency means the valves inside your veins that keep your blood flow moving towards your heart don’t close properly. Leaky valves allow the blood to flow backward into the veins. This results in enlarged veins that can bulge and twist, varicose veins.
Severe venous insufficiency can also result in skin ulcers that are difficult to heal because of the decrease in circulation. This skin on your lower legs can discolor and take on a rough, scaly appearance. This is more than a cosmetic issue. Vein damage increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) and raises your risk of developing a life-threatening pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that travels to the lungs).
Cellulitis as a Consequence of Skin Popping
While most microorganisms living on your skin are harmless, they can cause devastating consequences when entering your body through an injection site. When veins become damaged by drug use, some IV drug users resort to skin popping, injecting drugs under the surface of the skin. Skin popping is linked to an increased risk of cellulitis, a rash-like skin infection caused by staph or strep bacteria. While this form of bacterial infection is not contagious, it forms a tender, hot, red swollen rash that spreads rapidly.
Cellulitis requires prompt medical attention. Left untreated this infection can enter your bloodstream and lymphatic system. Cellulitis can cause chronic swelling of the infected limb, or worse. Although it’s rare, cellulitis can destroy soft tissues, requiring surgery to remove the damage.
Staph and Fungal Infections Due to Immune System Impairment
Substance abuse disorders disrupt your immune system. They make it difficult for your body to fight infections, this can result in an increase in infections that your once healthy immune system could have eliminated before it could cause any problems. You may find yourself prone to staph infections and fungal infections, particularly on your feet, where fungus thrives in the moist environment. If you are prone to psoriasis or eczema, you may find your flares more frequent and increasingly difficult to manage.
Surface Indications of Alcohol Abuse
Skin flushing can be an indication of alcohol abuse. Alcohol is a blood vessel dilator. Alcohol breaks down to acetaldehyde, which can cause a histamine release, which is the same thing that can happen during an allergic event.
With long-term alcohol abuse, you may also notice an increase in spider veins, small, broken capillaries close to the surface of your skin. Spider veins are often the most noticeable on your face, neck, chest, arms, hands, and abdomen. Particularly in those with liver damage.
The damage to your liver caused by alcohol dependency can also cause jaundice, the yellowing of your skin and eyes. This discoloration is an indication that you have an excessive amount of bilirubin in your system. Your liver normally breaks down bilirubin, but the function has been impaired by alcohol. When treated in its early stages, jaundice caused by the alcohol-related liver disease can be improved.
Increased Severity of Breakouts and Acne
Because of the increased amount of cortisol produced under stress; you may also find that your skin reflects the internal struggle by breaking out. Cortisol increases inflammation; acne is your skin’s response to the inflammation cortisol causes. Acne can also be aggravated by the skin picking habits associated with meth use and the simple fact that addiction may cause you to overlook your basic skin care needs.
Drug and alcohol abuse can cause inflammation, malnutrition, and dehydration. It weakens your immune system and damages blood vessels. Addiction adversely affects your body’s ability to heal. Your skin reflects the damage, while your brain, bones and internal organs continue to pay the price.
Restoring your appearance may be enough motivation to get you, or keep you, on the right path to a drug-free lifestyle. It may not. But as you conquer your addiction, you will see the signs of your progress. You can be assured that the improved health of your skin is a visible indication of the healing within.
Many times when a person hears the words “substance abuse” they only think in the terms using drugs, both legal prescriptions and illegal, excessively but it can also include alcohol. It is often seen as an illness or medical condition that will require treatment. Using therapy is one type of treatment that could be effective. Therapy can be either individual or done in a group. During therapy they learn how to identify any destructive behavior that causes then to have this problem. They also learn how to avoid these behaviors. One way to do this is to practice positive behavior using role-playing sessions. They also learn how to use a support system.
Therapy for substance abuse addiction is generally aimed at help you work through denial because many deny that they have a substance abuse problem. They deny that there is nothing wrong with their behavior and that they can stop at anytime on their own using the substance they are addicted too. Unfortunately, this is generally not true and they find they cannot put a stop to using the substance on their own. Because they do not believe that they have a problem they may not even try to stop. With therapy it could help them to see the problem and start taking steps needed to change.
In substance abuse addiction therapy it can also involve learning about the different destructive behaviors and the consequences that result from the behaviors. Therapy may help them recognize their own unacceptable behavior and admit they have a problem. It could also help them see how the behavior is not only damaging to themselves but also what it is doing to others such as family and friends. The therapy’s goal is to help them end their pattern of destructive behavior and replace those patterns with positive ones.
On part of therapy may be role-playing. One example of role-playing is engaging the one with the addiction in exercises while someone else attempts to convince them to use a substance and the one addicted will practice how to refuse their efforts to get them back taking the substance. This is a way for the abuser to practice and build their refusal skills.
A very important part of substance abuse addiction therapy is having a support system. It can be a challenge to battle your substance abuse addiction alone. It also requires commitment to becoming substance abuse free. With support there is someone there to help encourage them to stay on the path to becoming addiction free. Therapy also can include individual therapy in which they will meet with the therapist alone. They also use group therapy that can involve family members or groups of substance abusers that are on the path to being addiction free or already there.
Regular physical activity is important for everyone as it boosts self-esteem, keeps active and energetic and lowers the propensity to serious illnesses. For teenagers, who go through a lot of hormonal changes and hence the issues related to mood and emotions, regular workouts help them deal with the physical and emotional challenges of everyday life. However, according to a new study, teens engaged in regular and vigorous physical activity are prone to develop substance abuse problems.
Members from the Royal Australian and New Zealand School of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) conducted a survey on nearly 3,500 teenagers and concluded that those who worked out for more than four days a week were susceptible to develop substance abuse problem. The researchers analyzed the physical activity of 14-year-old teens and then evaluated their mental health outcomes at 21 years.
Lead author Dr. Shuichi Suetani said that teens who engaged in high-intensity workouts were susceptible to drinking alcohol as young adults. This was found to be true especially for young girls.
Dr. Matthew Dunn, senior lecturer in public health at Deakin University, and Dr. Mark Hutchinson, professor at Adelaide University’s Medical School, found that exposure to alcohol and drugs takes place because of environmental and societal pressures as well.
Dr. Dunn said that there is nothing new when it comes to sports and consequent exposure to harmful substances. He said that multiple sociocultural things could drive a teenager toward drug or alcohol abuse. As per him, if a teenager is a part of a club or a team that receives sponsorship from an alcohol company, there is an understated pressure to drink.
As per him, when an individual is around athletes and peers who abuse alcohol and other substances, one gets inevitably drawn to try these addiction-forming substances. However, when children are under supervision, they are less likely to go astray.
Dr. Hutchinson said that exclusive sports clubs and competitive environments could be the gateway to substance abuse. He is of the opinion that teens who follow the group mentality by mimicking other people’s unhealthy behavior could be damaging their future.
Children are impressionable and do not know how to say no to such advances or make sensible decisions. Moreover, their brains are still in a developing stage, so they can suffer from the consequences in a more serious way than adults. The affected teenagers may ultimately require affordable drug and alcohol treatment at good addiction facilities.
The RANZCP research also established that the serotonin release during an intense workout could be responsible for pushing the teens towards alcohol and other substances but the finding was refuted by Dr. Hutchinson because of dearth of data supporting the view.
Talking to teens about substance abuse
Teenage is a vulnerable time when many young boys and girls are not yet capable of making informed choices and are likely to feel disoriented later. Parents can play a pivotal role in guiding their children about the perils of alcohol and substance abuse. It is important to talk and keep the communication channels open.
Some ways in which parents can address this issue are:
* Get involved in the child’s life without intruding. Set rules for partying, homecoming, friends’ time, play time and other activities. When children know that they are being monitored closely, they are less likely to indulge in substance abuse.
* Parents should remind teens about the deleterious effects of alcohol and substances on physical health, academic and sports performance, social interactions as well as family and romantic relationships.
* Parents should encourage their teens and show appreciation even when the achievement is small. Positive reinforcements can go a long way in keeping them away from negative influences.
* Children should be encouraged to pursue a hobby, try a new activity and volunteer. Their screen time should be minimal and parents should know all the friends and acquaintances their child is mingling with.
Road to recovery
Use of alcohol and other substances can be detrimental to the functional and structural abilities of the brain, especially during the adolescence. It’s a phase full of emotional upheavals and physical transformations that increase the likelihood of indulging in wrong habits. Substance abuse can lead to legal troubles, financial woes, drop in grades, unsafe sexual practices and much more. It is therefore prudent to stay away from substances and seek immediate help when required.
What makes someone decide to take the plunge into the world of chemicals? Is it desperation, anger, loneliness or plain and simple ignorance?
“But why did you do it in the first place?”, a question that pops into your mind every time you see your loved ones struggling with their addiction at a substance abuse treatment facility. It is perfectly alright to ask this question; after all, how would you be able to help end the addiction if you don’t know what started it? Mostly people take drugs because they want to change something about themselves or their lives, alcohol and drugs seem like a solution to them but eventually, the solution becomes the problem.
A lot of researchers have tried to figure out the reason behind the inception of this deadly habit and after talking to several people who have been through the ups and downs of substance abuse, an anti-drug organization Foundation for a Drug-Free World has come up with a list of probable reasons behind why one chooses to walk down the dark road.
. To fit in: “Everyone is doing it”, more often than we realize this kind of statement is the subtle hint of peer pressure. Many young people lack the social skill of making friends or fitting in a group and they would just about do anything to feel accepted and have a cool group of their own. Unfortunately if they come across a group which is already involved in drug/substance abuse, it is more likely that they would also give in rather than taking a stand all to fit in.
. To escape or relax: Everybody has got troubles of their own that they deal with on a daily basis, but sometimes it becomes too much for them. While some of us try to look for a break by going for a vacation or taking a few days off; others choose the high of alcohol, drugs or other substances to take their mind off the problem. It starts slowly maybe once a month but slowly and steadily the person starts getting dependent on the high. Every time he feels pressurized, he turns towards the high looking for an escape and before he realizes it, that temporary high becomes a permanent need.
. To relieve boredom: One of the major factors in drug abuse in teens and young adults is boredom. Most of the time when they have extra free time at hand or no hobbies and interests to keep us occupied, they start looking for exciting things to do and drinking/ smoking up or drugs seems like a good idea. They think that they have strong will power and may quit any time they want to but the sad reality is once you get hooked up you cannot ‘just stop’ without professional help; in fact trying to go ‘cold turkey’ may even prove to be fatal.
. To seem grown up: When teenagers and young adults see their friends or family getting involved with alcohol or drugs, even if it is something as casual as social drinking; they start to think they even they can handle it. It becomes easier for them to rationalize it by thinking stuff like ‘Everybody drinks during the Sunday family get-together so, why I can’t?’ even the modern music and entertainment seems to be filled with references to drugs making the youngsters believe that it’s Okay to try it
sometimes. This ‘sometimes’ pushes them slowly and steadily towards addiction.
. To rebel: Most parents warn their kids and ask them to stay away from drinking, smoking and other substance abuse but more often than not, these warnings have just the opposite effect. Kids start feeling pressurized and try to look for ways to lash out or rebel against their parents. Smoking or drinking starts seeming like excellent ideas to them and they underestimate that this may severely backfire on them and they might end up becoming addicted.
. To experiment: We have often heard that ‘drugs boost creativity’, this, is a lie. In fact alcohol/substance abuse causes just the opposite. It alters one’s thinking capacity and brain functions in such a way that they are unable to focus on anything other the need to get their high. As time passes, their tolerance increases and they start looking for new ways trying to get the euphoric feeling of being high. Most of the time this pulls a person deeper into the darkness of addiction. All this sucks a person dry of their logical thinking and also drains them of their creativity. Their experiment to get more creative backfires on them.
It is very easy for teenagers and young adults to get into the habit of alcohol/substance abuse without thinking about the long-term consequences. What we need to understand is that alcohol or drug dependency hampers one’s normal brain functions and they are unable to see and understand logic the way we do. Hence, it is imperative that we look out for the slightest signs and make sure that we always stay by their side whenever they need support. Fortunately, it is possible to get help at the right rehab and help your loved ones get their life back on track; all you need to do is be alert to the signs.
Why do some drug users become addicted, and others don’t?
Vulnerability to drug and alcohol addiction differs from person to person. If you or a loved one affected has a family history of addiction, had traumatic experiences in childhood, suffer from depression and anxiety, or experimented with drugs earlier, you may be at a great risk of suffering from drug addiction.
How drug abuse and addiction can develop
People who experiment with drugs do so because the substance being abused either makes them feel good, or stops them from feeling bad about a situation they are in. In many cases, however, there is a fine line between regular drug use, drug abuse and addiction.
Frequency or the amount of drugs consumed while in themselves don’t constitute drug abuse or addiction, it can often be an indicator of a drug-related problem.
Signs and symptoms of drug abuse and Alcohol addiction
Although different drugs have different physical effects, if you recognize yourself or a loved one having the following signs and symptoms of substance abuse and addiction, consider talking to someone about your drug use.
* You’ve built up a tolerance to a drug and need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts.
* You take a drug to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms and If you go too long without a drug, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
* You’ve lost control over your use of a drug. You often do drugs or use more than you planned, even though you may want to stop using, you feel powerless.
* You spend most of your time using and thinking about drugs, figuring out how to get them, and recovering from the drug’s effects.
* You have abandoned activities you used to love, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, because of using a drug.
* You continue to use a drug, despite knowing it is hurting you by causing major problems in your life such as experiencing frequent blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression, paranoia-but you continue to use anyway.
Warning signs that a friend or family member is abusing drugs
Drug abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their drug addiction problem. If you’re worried that a loved one might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:
Behavioral signs of drug abuse
* A sudden unexplained dip in attendance or performance at work or school
* Unexplained need for money or frequent recent financial problems.
* Sudden change in behaviors or being overly secretive
* Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
* Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)
* Psychological warning signs of drug abuse
* Unexplained sudden change in personality and or attitude
* Sudden frequent mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
* Unusual moments of hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
* Sudden lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
* Appears anxious, fearful, or paranoid, with no reason
* Physical warning signs of drug abuse
* Bloodshot eyes, unusual larger or smaller pupils
* Sudden weight loss or weight gain or unexplainable changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
* Deterioration of physical appearance and, or personal grooming habits
* Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
* Frequent tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
Recognizing that you or a loved one has a problem is the first step on the road to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, one that takes tremendous courage and strength.
Don’t try to go it alone; If you’re ready to make a change and willing to seek help for yourself or a loved one, you can overcome your addiction and build a satisfying, drug-free life for yourself.
Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential.