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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Adolescent Drinking Could Cause Severe Problems in the Future

It may seem unlikely to you that your child could have a drinking problem, but young adults are vulnerable to developing substance misuse issues – and when adolescents get addicted to alcohol, the consequences are often dire. What makes adolescence such a sensitive time, and is there anything you can do to prevent your teen from heading down a self-destructive path?

Adolescence Is a Critical Time for Preventing Substance Abuse

The earlier teens begin experimenting with adolescent drinking, the higher the chances they will develop a substance misuse disorder later in life. Drugs rewire the brain’s reward pathways, which can lead to addiction and other behavioral health problems. If you’re a teen’s parent or guardian, you have a pivotal part to play in reducing their risk of developing a drinking problem and the various mental and physical health issues that accompany it.

For teens and adults alike, risk of alcohol abuse increases sharply during stressful circumstances. Many teenagers undergo tumultuous life events like moving, having their parents get divorced or starting at a new school. When children graduate from middle school to high school, they may face a dizzying new array of life challenges, including unfamiliar social and academic situations. For many students, this transition coincides with the time they initially get exposed to underaged drinking.

Substance Use Interferes With Teen Brain Development

During adolescence, many teens flirt with risky behavior as they begin testing their boundaries and accepting more responsibilities at home and school. The desire to have new experiences and fit in socially is healthy, but it may also make teenagers more susceptible to adolescent drinking. No matter how responsible you think your teenager is, research has shown that the rational, decision-making part of the brain does not fully mature until around age 25. An adolescent’s ability to display good judgment might go by the wayside when friends pressure them to drink in social settings.

Because teens’ brains are still developing, adolescent drinking has a higher potential to disrupt brain function in areas that play essential roles in memory, learning, judgment and behavior, which could cause severe problems later in life. It’s not entirely surprising that teens who drink often struggle at home and academically, and can develop mental health problems such as depression at greater rates.

Since alcohol lowers inhibitions, adolescent drinking could also lead teens to do illegal or dangerous things like:
  • Driving under the influence
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Experimenting with harder drugs
  • Skipping school or work
These risks could have a ripple effect that leads to ramifications like sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, a criminal record, a worsening substance use disorder, job loss or expulsion from school.

What Can You Do About Adolescent Drinking?

As children transition into young adulthood, they may start acting secretive or stop doing previously enjoyable hobbies. While these are expected parts of adolescence, they could also be warning signs of a teen’s struggle with addiction. Keep the lines of communication open, and ensure your child knows they can come to you with any questions or concerns. You may want to role-play a few scenarios to give them practice in politely turning down a friend who offers them a drink.

If you’re concerned that your child may have a substance use disorder or a mental health challenge such as anxiety or depression, ask your family doctor. You may also want to research young adult addiction treatment facilities like Hope Academy to get your teen the specialized help they need to avoid severe problems in the future. Contact us today to learn more about what we provide.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

College Students Turning to Drugs to Cope With Pandemic

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide. As case levels and death rates in America continue spiking to alarming levels, many people are craving a return to normalcy and seeking new ways to occupy the time they used to spend visiting with family and friends and attending large gatherings like concerts and plays. After nearly a year of self-quarantining and avoiding unnecessary trips outside the home, news of two viable vaccines is a ray of hope. However, delays in the vaccine rollout process might mean it could still take many months to achieve the “herd immunity” necessary to return to business as usual.

For the last several months, mental health experts have been sounding alarms about the pandemic’s long-term psychological effects. Chronic stress, coupled with grief and the mental health issues associated with isolation, could leave long-lasting societal scars. Many health professionals have shared their worries that these factors may also contribute to an increase in substance use disorders, as people increasingly turn to drugs as a coping mechanism to relieve anxiety or alleviate boredom. College students are one demographic that’s uniquely vulnerable to this issue.

Drug and Alcohol Experimentation Is Rising During COVID-19

Even before the pandemic emerged as a major public health threat, binge drinking and drug use was a prevalent problem on college campuses from coast to coast. Substances like alcohol, marijuana and prescription stimulants such as Adderall are readily accessible on many campuses. College also provides a more permissive environment where students might choose to use their newfound freedom and independence as a justification for engaging in risky behavior. Widespread lockdowns drove many people to buy and sell drugs online, making these addictive substances even more easily available.

Once using and drinking becomes part of college culture, students might not realize they’re developing a problematic relationship with drugs and alcohol. If getting drunk or high is the typical way you and your friends spend your nights and weekends, your tolerance will continue increasing, and you’ll be increasingly in danger of progressing to a substance use disorder. The pandemic also makes it less likely that many people will seek the necessary help for addictive tendencies and any co-occurring mental health conditions, thus compounding these problems.

Drug-Free Ways to Cope With the COVID-19 Pandemic

What can you do to stay safe and avoid falling into the cycle of substance abuse that has affected so many college students? Here are some tips for coping with the stress, isolation and idle time that have characterized the pandemic.

  • Limit your news consumption: While it’s essential to stay abreast of evolving community health updates, it’s not productive to doomscroll through your newsfeed every time you feel bored. Only allow yourself to check daily headlines at specific intervals, and set a timer so you don’t spend too long staring at your screen.
  • Keep up with your physical and mental wellness: Incorporate exercise, a healthy diet and mindfulness activities into your daily life. A 30-minute walk outside can elevate your heart rate and provide a mood boost that carries you through the rest of your day.
  • Start a new hobby or revisit an old one: Self-quarantine is an ideal opportunity to spark your creativity. Activities like journaling, painting and needlework can turn formerly unproductive hours into a healthy habit you look forward to doing.

Seeking Young Adult Addiction Treatment at Hope Academy

If you’ve been struggling with substance abuse issues and have made it a priority to get clean and sober in 2021, Hope Academy is here for you. At our California drug rehab center, we work exclusively with young adults who want to learn how to make healthier life choices. Reach out today to learn more about our services and how to verify your insurance coverage.
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