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For Teens

Drug Abuse Information

How are drugs harmful to people?

Drugs can be harmful to people in a number of ways. Even people who experiment or use drugs just once are in danger of health complications or bad reactions. Likewise, drugs heavily affect judgment and decision-making. This means that people who are under the influence of drugs have an elevated chance of engaging in risky, questionable behaviors. For example, a drunk or high person might attempt to operate a vehicle while under the influence. As a person continues to use drugs over several months or even years, their risks for various health problems rise. For example, they are more susceptible to certain cancers, diseases, and full-blown addiction. Once an individual is addicted to their drug of choice, the drug becomes his/her highest priority. The addiction will also begin to affect the person's home, school, and work life.

Are some teens more susceptible to addiction than others?

During a person's teenage years, their bodies and brains are undergoing many changes. At this time, the brain is rapidly developing, and it is rather different in comparison to an adult brain. If the teen brain is exposed to drugs while it is still growing, the overall developmental process can be hindered. Decisions made by teens tend to differ from decisions made by adults. In fact, teens are more likely to take risks than adults. This can be good in certain cases; teens need ways to discover who they are and what they want out of life. However, certain risks can be incredibly dangerous. Research has shown that teens who experiment with drugs have an elevated chance of developing problems with abuse and addiction later in life.

Is there such a thing as a "gateway drug?"

This question is actually quite difficult to answer. One common misconception is that people who smoke marijuana will eventually go on to abuse harder, more dangerous drugs. There is no evidence available that supports this common claim. However, almost any person who abuses drugs other than marijuana is guilty of having used marijuana at least once in their life. It would make sense that some would assume the marijuana usage essentially opened the door for abuse of other drugs. For some people, it's possible that marijuana did play a part in being introduced to other drugs. Researchers believe that increased exposure to drugs, strong relationships with drug users, and preexisting problems that encouraged first-time drug usage can all contribute to a person's likelihood for trying new drugs.

Does using drugs while young ruin the rest of your life?

Science as unfortunately shown that when people begin using drugs at young ages, their chances of addiction skyrocket. Likewise, they are more susceptible to suffering negative medical and social repercussions. The best advice for teens is to never begin using drugs. If you have tried drugs already, and even if you regularly use them, keep in mind that stopping early will help you avoid addiction and other extremely harmful outcomes.

Can taking drugs cause mental illness?

It has been known for quite some time that there is a distinct relationship between drugs and mental disorders. People who regularly abuse drugs commonly suffer from various types of mental illness. Additionally, studies have shown that those with mental illness(es) are more at risk for using and/or becoming addicted to drugs.

It's not fully understood why drugs and mental disorders share such a close-knit relationship. However, scientists have a few theories as to why this is. They are as follows:

  • Abuse of drugs can actually create mental illness symptoms. Over time, the brain will suffer functional and structural damage from drug abuse and addiction.
  • A mental illness can spawn drug abuse and/or addiction if a person uses a drug to self-medicate. For example, many people with depression or anxiety use alcohol to self-medicate and force chemical changes in their bodies.
  • Both mental disorders and drug dependency can both simultaneously occur due to common triggers. For example, the brain might possess underlying deficits, or it may have been exposed to trauma or stress early in its developmental process.

Is depression an excuse to abuse drugs?

Depressed individuals will often search for answers in drugs as a means to find euphoria and happiness. However, drugs are nothing more than a harmful, temporary solution. In actuality, using dangerous drugs only worsens the problem at hand.

While under the influence from drugs, an individual will likely feel better than they normally do without them. However, once the high is over, the individual will return to their ill state. In fact, they will likely feel more depressed, sick, or sad than before they used the drug.

As drug abuse continues, the high will become less prominent and the "bad feelings" after the drug wears off will worsen. If you or another person is suffering from depression, seek medical help immediately. There are many ways doctors can treat depression and help you avoid drug abuse.

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