Preventing Teenage Substance Abuse



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Drugs are innately risky; whether the results are mental trauma, addiction, overdose, or a wealth of other negative side effects, even the most conscientious individuals have to treat them with extreme caution. With these adversities in mind, it only makes sense that young adults are some of the most susceptible to potential substance addiction.

Using a lifestyle-altering substance while finding out one’s own identity, aspirations, and preferences is a recipe for disastrous results down the road; adolescents who begin substance use and abuse at a young age are more susceptible to addiction in the future.

Whether as a parent, mentor, sibling, or friend to a teenager, being able to prevent further dangerous experimenting is an important step to take — for their current and future health.

Effects of Drug Abuse

The dangers of drugs are especially pronounced for young adults. As their judgement may be weaker than that of an adult, they are more likely to perform actions that may attract the attention of the law.

Conditions of drug abuse can be dangerous in the short and long term for adolescents. Some common ones include:

  • Accentuated stress

  • Decline in school performance

  • Dependence on drugs

  • Depression 

  • Difficulty socializing or maintaining relationships

  • Feelings of isolation

  • Risky behavior

  • Self-esteem issues

  • Unsafe sexual activity

Deciding on the best preventative measures is something the loved ones of an affected teen may want to do.


Methods to Discourage Substance Abuse

Depending on what your family member’s relationship with substance abuse is like, there are a couple of options as to how a discussion should go. For example, it is never a bad idea to bring the idea up early in adolescence. In 2018, 27.1% of 8th to 12th graders used an illicit drug (according to the Addiction Center), and the age at which teenagers begin to try illegal substances has been steadily declining.

Creating an early awareness of the potential addictiveness and dangers of drugs at a young age is an important step to take as a parent; it also allows for a strong bridge of communication between parents and children for a very confusing topic. 

In some instances, it may be necessary to directly address the potential drug usage of your own child. This can be an undoubtedly emotional time for both sides, so deciding upon the best way to communicate without causing emotional distress is crucial.

Here are some important steps worth taking, no matter the nature of their relationship to drugs — if they use them or not — including:

  • Listening to their point of view. Understanding and empathizing with how they feel is a crucial part of building trust. Instead of trying to scare your loved one (a technique that routinely places more distance between both parties), understanding their emotional aspect is crucial if you want to help them.

  • Be able to talk about your experiences with drug usage. Whether you have interacted or actively engage in some substances, it is critical to be able to build trust with your child by discussing your feelings.

  • Discuss, without intending to “teach”, how drug use may not be good for them. It is an impossible task to completely reason with individuals already engaging in substance abuse, but trying to explain your point of view (especially coming from a place of love) is important. 


Additionally, there are numerous resources available for educational purposes on the downsides of routine drug use. Some are available through your teenager’s school, while others may be more specific to their specific case. 

The role of education also opens up the opportunity for teenagers to receive therapy. If they are reluctant to talk to you or other loved one’s about their substance abuse, it can help them to talk things through with a trained psychiatric professional. 

Ultimately, stopping addiction is the most important step. If further preventative measures seem to be ineffective, it may be necessary to gain the help of rehabilitation professionals. Addiction is powerful, and even those most important to the affected individual may be unable to shake their addiction.

Taking full advantage of the plethora of rehab options available may be one of the best options for a family looking to help their teen going through substance abuse issues. 

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