Many do not understand drugs and how they work on the body. As a result, teens often do not believe that recreational drug use can lead to teen addiction in very little time. Teens need to understand what drugs do in the body and how an addiction starts.
Start by thinking about something that makes you happy. When this occurs, your limbic system kicks in and you feel pleasure naturally. You work to increase these feelings and have them occur again. The same thing occurs when you take a drug for the first time. The body receives a natural flow of neurotransmitters, just like the high you get from a good event. The problem with this is that the brain responds to this unnaturally high level of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are carried throughout the body by dopamine. Dopamine receptors decrease or make less dopamine and neurons may die when an illicit drug is used.
When this happens, it makes it harder for the user to experience pleasure. Life loses its joy without drugs and the person needs the drugs to keep dopamine at a normal level. Over time, the amount of drugs needs to keep dopamine levels up increases and an addiction may start. The problem with this is that one can never predict how many times a person can take a drug before this process begins. Many factors are involved. As drug used continues though, it goes from being a voluntary choice to one that is compulsive. With teen addiction or any addiction for that matter, the user can no longer control his brain functions. He is unable to think clearly or live without drugs. The drug now controls his behavior.
Although many believe that teen addiction is a choice, nothing is further from the truth. An addiction is actually a disease of the brain. The brain is designed to have us seek out things that give us pleasure or a reward. The drug makes the brain function in such a way that only the drug can give us the pleasure or reward we so greatly need. It becomes a physical need rather than a conscious decision. This is what makes it an addiction.
Signs of Teen Addiction
How can one tell if a person is suffering from teen addiction? Often this can be hard to determine, but if you suspect either you or someone you know has an addiction, you need to ask yourself some basic questions? Answering yes to one question means help is most likely needed.
- When you want to relax, fit in with others or feel better about yourself, do you turn to drugs or alcohol?
- Have you ever gotten into a vehicle with someone who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Have you ever driven while under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
- Have you ever forgotten things that you did while using alcohol or drugs?
- Do you use drugs or alcohol when no one else is around?
- Have you gotten into trouble when using drugs or alcohol? This may be at school, with family or legally.
- Have others suggested that you cut down on alcohol or drug use?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it is time to speak to a professional. They can help you to determine if teen addiction is at play. You may be too close to the situation to accurately judge the extent of drug use and possible abuse.
Treatment for Teen Addiction
Teen Addiction cannot be cured, only managed. Medication may be needed to do this and behavioral therapy is often recommended. This type of therapy works to change the behavior of the addict. Although no two treatment plans will be identical. A treatment plan is developed based on the drug or drugs the person is abusing, his or her specific circumstances and any other diagnoses the person may have. A good teen addiction treatment plan will be based on thirteen principles.
- Addiction is both complex and treatable. It affects brain function and behavior.
- Treatment must be based on the individual's needs.
- Treatment must be easily obtained.
- Treatment must look at more than just the addiction. It must encompass every area of the addict's life.
- The length of treatment is critical.
- Counseling and behavioral therapies are the most common forms of addiction treatment.
- Medications are often needed during treatment and are usually combined with behavioral therapy.
- A treatment plan must be continually assessed and modified to ensure it meets the changing needs of the addict.
- Addiction is often accompanied by other mental disorders.
- Detoxification is not a cure, but a step in the treatment process.
- Involuntary treatment is just as effective as voluntary treatment.
- Drug use must be continually monitored as lapses during treatment are seen.
- Treatment programs must look for infectious diseases and counsel addicts on how to reduce their risk while also helping them to change behaviors that increase the risk of spreading or contracting these diseases.
One must always remember that Teen Addiction is a chronic disease. Although you will occasionally come across an addict who has managed to quit "cold turkey", these cases are very rare. Most though will need long term treatment. Many have to go through a rehabilitation program more than one time. Medications may need to be changed and treatment plans adapted to changing circumstances. A relapse does not mean that you should give up hope though. It's just a sign that modifications need to be made to the treatment plan in place. Setbacks are very common and one just needs to remember that this is true with any disease. The key is taking these setbacks in stride and working to make any changes that are needed.
Teen drug use can be a predictor of future drug use so it should be taken seriously. Marijuana statistics show that those who start using marijuana at an early age have much higher rates of cocaine and heroin use later in life. For this reason, teen addiction is not to be considered a stage or a part of growing up. Get help immediately so the teen can have a better chance in life later on.