Addiction impacts people of all ages. However, teenagers are at a higher risk due to their mental, physical and spiritual vulnerability. People who battle with addiction experience harsh consequences, sometimes for many years after working towards sobriety. Some of these consequences include significant anxiety, confusion, trouble sleeping, mood disturbances, violent behavior, issues with memory, learning deficiencies, and hallucinations. Avoiding these repercussions is of great interest. Many believe that the solution lies in education and proactive measures among teens and other high-risk populations. Numerous studies have taken place in an effort to better understand teens and their particular susceptibility to addiction, in hopes of improving rates of prevention. Researchers have gained significant insight into the issue as a result.
The Developing Brain
Adolescents are growing and so are their brains. Proper brain development during the teenage years is crucial in planning, organizing, thinking and developing healthy habits and positive reward systems. Teenagers who are still developing these aspects of the brain could be more susceptible to the strong influence of substance abuse, as their decision-making capabilities are not fully matured. Consequently, choosing to begin using substances further stunts brain development and perpetuates the cycle of abuse.
Increased Risk-Taking and Impulsivity
Teens tend to demonstrate heightened risk-taking and impulsive behaviors, which is often in part due to their developing brains. As a result, adolescents have a greater risk of experiencing stress, mental illness, and addiction than adults. Additionally, in adolescents, the part of the brain that reacts with “happy” reward chemicals is even more reactive due to the stage of their brain development. Unfortunately, this often leads to teens acting without thinking and engaging in risky behaviors, as they are operating from a place of wanting to feel good. Consequently, this mindset can often plant seeds that eventually grow into active addiction. In order to avoid this, it’s important to teach teens to consider potential consequences prior to making decisions, as a means of creating good habits and cultivating healthy reward systems.
Proactive Measures for Teens
To help prevent addiction from reaching our teens, we must come together as a community and educate them. Teaching our youth about the consequences of addiction via academic resources and personal experiences can help them understand the harsh realities of addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Providing support and offering resources to those struggling, such as therapy and treatment programs, lets them know that they are not alone and that there is hope for a building better life.
Looking for Help?
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. We know how painful addiction can be and we live by the belief that no one has to face it alone. If you are ready to develop the tools necessary to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. We are here to help. t’s never too late to make a change.