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Teen Drug Abuse: Understanding And Treating Teen Drug Abuse


Teen drug abuse can be referred to as adolescents participating in the use of illegal substances. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teenagers are being introduced to substance use as early as age thirteen. Whether or not we know the underlying issues that cause teens to partake in such activities, we do know one thing: The rise in teen drug abuse has become an increasingly prevalent issue among many families worldwide.


Teens may use drugs for many reasons. Some may feel pressured by peers, others may just be curious. Although the underlying issues of teen drug abuse are not set in stone, there are quite a few possibilities that lead to substance abuse.

Peer pressure is real. The victims that fall to peer pressure are usually those who feel incompetent. The youth that is different. Circumstances that allow these teens to succumb to peer pressure often result in negative outcomes. Initially, drug use caused by peer pressure occurs when one individual is acting overly persistent towards another. The individual on the receiving end may often think, “If I do this I’ll be cool,” and so they do, not fearing the consequence.

In some circumstances, the prey is left unscathed. While in others, the biological makeup of the person does not allow them to function without the substance. This end result is considered drug abuse.

Curiosity, on the other hand, may or may not have killed the cat. Teenagers are curious; they often have this newfound knowledge that they are invincible. Which is untrue, by the way. They think, “I can do anything I want now that I’m older.” With no fear, the rebel kicks in and finds himself in a spiral of fun new experience until one day he or she wakes up “sick” from the disease of addiction.


It’s inevitable that teens are going to party, regardless of their parent’s standards or rules. I can attest to this statement. Although my parents never set a ground rule of thumb, they did make it clear on what I should and should not be doing at my young age. The question is, did I follow this rule? And the answer is no. I didn’t.

As an early teen, I engaged in so-called “dangerous” activities. I drank alcohol and did every drug I could get my hands on, no consequences to follow. I thought it was fun because I was partying with my friends. Everyone was doing the same thing I was doing, so I thought, “What is so wrong with this?”

Later, I realized everything was wrong with that. I started “partying” during the week instead of just on the weekends, which ultimately led to me failing classes, missing school days, not being able to wake up or even function like a normal teenager would. I began betraying my parents, leaving my house at all hours of the night. I was stealing from my family and driving illegally and under the influence. By age seventeen my life was in shambles and I was running amok. This is what ultimately landed me under the category of teen drug abuse.

Dependence on a substance creates an illusion that every action taken must be taken for or around the drug. The willingness to live depends on the drug. If the individual is not under the influence of the substance, the individual just exists until they get what they “need”.

More often than not, teens become addicted to a substance accidentally and are unable to recognize the signs before it’s too late.


Teens themselves will most likely be the last to realize they are addicts. Usually, the parents or guardians are the first to discover this. In rare cases, both teens and parent are in denial and have no clue of the harsh reality their teens are facing.

It’s easy for an addict in recovery, such as myself, to tell when another individual is abusing a substance. For people with limited knowledge of drug abuse and its symptoms, determining if their teen is using drugs can be a difficult task.

Some of the signs to be aware of that may lead to the discovery of your teen’s drug abuse include:

  • Lethargy
  • Strange behavior
  • Constriction or dilation of the pupils
  • Mood swings (depression, anxiety, agitation)
  • Inability to function normally
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Lack of motivation
  • Skipping school
  • Legal troubles
  • Disinterest in hobbies or activities
  • Dishonesty

Although each individual may express drug use in different forms, the symptoms listed above are the most common effects of drug abuse in teens.


Once you’ve recognized that your teen is struggling with addiction, it’s time to consider the different types of treatment available and choose the most effective program for his or her individual needs.

Determining the proper level of care and program begins with assessing your teen’s history of substance abuse by asking a few questions:

  • How long have they been using?
  • Which substance are they dependent on?
  • Will this be their first time in treatment?
  • Is there a history of substance abuse in the family?
  • Are they a danger to themselves or society?

Types of treatment include detox programs, inpatient rehab, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient, and outpatient care.


Dealing with teen drug abuse may seem like a daunting task. Always remember to keep in mind that it is possible to approach your teens in a manner that allows them to feel comfortable enough to be open and honest about their struggles ultimately leading to a successful recovery. It is not uncommon for families faced with this discovery to be lost. Addiction not only affects the addict but also everyone around them, including family and friends.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction call Pathway to Hope at (855) 757-2128 or contact us online. Trained medical staff are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have related to substance abuse.


Bertrand T

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